I sat down with the others and we talked as the woods grew dark around us. A short time later, a car with only running lights on came into the camp from the entrance side. It parked and Matt got out. He came over to our camp with us and joined us by the fire. Kris and I did a lot of listening that night as the three squatch veterans sat around the fire reminiscing and discussing tactics and the running of the BFRO. It was one of only two times I ever saw Matt let his hair down and relax. The brisk Californian fell away as we talked and he became just another guy; it seemed to me that this was the real Matt and that other guy we normally saw was a mask or facade.
We heard a muffled stick break on the swamp side. Matt said, “That’s a palm break.” When we looked at him quizzically, he elaborated, “When they need to break a stick but don’t want it to make a lot of noise they hold it in the palm of their hand and break it.” It sounded plausible, but I wondered what evidence he had for that claim. Had anyone ever see them do this?
I didn’t get to ask any more questions, for at that time were heard three soft howls, from three locations, two towards the entrance and one from the center area between us, Century 21, and Entrance camp.
Matt exclaimed, “Those weren’t bigfoots; they’re too quiet.” He got on the radio and demanded to know who had made those howls. No one answered. He called again, still no answer. He called Robert on the radio and asked him to check the entrance camp and look for intruders. He got up, got in his car and went to Century 21.
Not long after that, someone called on the radio that they had just seen a black bear moving from entrance camp toward our camp. We sat around our camp in tense silence; everyone’s’ nerves were on edge, and the air felt electric, like the calm before a storm. It felt like something momentous was about to happen.
After about a half hour, we heard a snuffling sound from the trail to the entrance. Something was coming toward us with a soft shuffling gait. When it got to within sight of us, it moved to the side and went around camp through the woods. It was low to the ground and obviously a quadruped. We decided that it was the bear the others had seen. Its sounds dissipated as it ran off.
Matt drove up coming from Century 21. He didn’t stop but instead, waved, and continued on toward the Entrance camp.
We went back to talking and enjoying the campfire. It was a beautiful June evening, the stars were out, and the setting was perfect. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I do remember how engaging and friendly Patty and Caroline were. I learned a lot about the workings of the BFRO and other expeditions they had been on that night. Kris and I likewise shared our stories from when we were young and other things we had done. An hour seemed to slip by without notice.
Suddenly my radio interrupted us, squawking to life with Robert’s voice, “We just had a large rock thrown at us.”
“Where are you?” came Matt’s reply.
“We’re on the back loop trail heading towards Century 21.” Robert replied. “We’ll be there shortly.”
Another voice chimed in then, “This is Entrance camp, we’ve been watching two sets of red eyes, back near the gate, looking at us. They seem to be coming from behind the brush near the gate.”
“Ok,” Matt replied, “Keep an eye on them. I’m on my way to Century 21 to meet Robert.”
As I was listening to the radio, Caroline, Patty, and Kris all sat up and looked toward Century 21. “Did you hear that?” asked Kris.
“Yeah,” Patty and Caroline both said.
“What?” I asked having heard nothing over the radio.
“There were three rock knocks that came from over there.” Patty said.
Just then, the radio squawked to life again, “This is Century 21, we just had three rock knocks just outside of camp.”
“Great,” came Matt’s reply. Play games or something and don’t everyone look off into the woods. Do you have something you can play catch with?”
“No.” they replied.
“Andy, can you and Kris bring one of your Frizbees to Century 21?” Matt asked over the radio.
I looked at Kris and said, “Sure, we’ll go right away.”
We jumped up and grabbed our red lights and a glowing Frizbee. The ladies wished us luck and we headed down the trail, our red lights glowing on our foreheads, dimly lighting the path before us. We moved down the path very quickly, well aware that there was a rock-throwing sasquatch in the vicinity. It wasn’t a long walk, but I remember glancing off to the sides a lot, being very nervous as to what could be watching us from the brush. Finally, we rounded a bend and could see the light of the Century 21 campfire. I had all I could do not to run up to it and the people clustered around it talking.
Just as we reached the camp, we saw a flash of lights coming from behind us. It was Matt coming up from behind us in his car. He parked and walked up to the people with Kris and I. Robert was there talking to the Century 21 campers.
“So Robert, what happened?” Matt asked.
“We were walking the outer loop trail from Entrance camp to this one,” Robert began, “We weren’t using lights at all. When we got to a spot about 100 yards from camp here, a large rock was spiked down to the trail immediately in front of me. It came almost straight in at about a forty five degree angle. It wasn’t arched in, as I didn’t hear it hitting any brush on the way in. I think the sasquatch was standing just to the side of the trail and spiked it at my feet.”
“How big was the rock,” someone asked.
“About the size of a football,” the guy who’d gone with Robert answered. There was a sort of nervous shuffling then as we all started looking around for sasquatches carrying large boulders to hurl at us.
Robert continued, “We stopped for a bit but could see nothing in the dark, and I didn’t want to turn on my red light and scare it, so we continued on and radioed the event in to you. Just as we got to this camp, we heard three rock knocks come from back down the trail.”
“Very good,” said Matt, “I’m glad you are safe though, I don’t like it when they throw big rocks at people. I want everyone to stay in camp from now on.”
Just then a voice came over the radio, “We just had a large rock thrown at us; what do we do.” It was a family that had camped at the entrance. One of their group was handicapped and couldn’t move very fast. We all looked at each other nervously.
Matt called on the radio, “Where are you?”
“On the loop trail. There are things moving in the brush around us.” they replied sounding frightened.
‘Dammit,” Matt swore. He got on the radio, “I’m coming to get you. Stay where you are. Everyone else get back to your camps and stay there.” He jumped in his car and started down the outer loop trail toward the family.
“We’d better head back,” I said to Kris.
“Yeah,” he said, switching on his red light. I did likewise.
“Hold on there guys,” Robert said, “Don’t use the lights. Also hold them in your hands, not on your head. In New Mexico, we had a squatch take the camera out of someone’s hand with a thrown rock. The camera had a light on it. With these squatches throwing rocks, you don’t want them throwing them at a light on your head.”
“You walk without any light?” I asked incredulously.
“Yep,” he answered, laughing a bit, “You’ll be amazed at how much more you can see without the lights. Just trust me. Hold the lights in your hands and only switch them on when you need to see the trail in front of you, when it gets rough.”
We spent a few more minutes discussing this concept with him, and we finally were convinced and decided to try it his way.
We took our lights in our hands, switched them off, wished the guys at Century 21 good luck, and then turned to face the dark trail.
Continued in Squatch Crazy, Part 10.