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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Possible Bigfoot Encounter in Hoosier National Forest, Indiana

The following account was referred to me by a reader in Indiana:

I distance hike when I can. Sometimes this means getting up early, or staying out late, to get as many miles in as possible. Sometimes, walking in the pitch dark with a low light headlamp gets spooky.

I grew up in the woods of this area. I’ve slept under our canopy of stars more nights than I can count. I’ve trekked thousands of miles of trail, river bank, lake shore, ridge, bottoms, bogs, and creeks. I’ve hunted the game. I’m establishing this because it’s important you understand what I heard, seen, and smelled about all this region has to offer in the way of wilderness.

My scariest experience though happened at about 0430 in the morning in Hoosier National Forest, Indiana. It was late spring, so the first morning light wouldn’t be visible in the tree tops for another 30-45 minutes; another hour past that until sunrise. I was on mile five.

I’m in a low bottom that’s wedged between two steep ridges. The trail I’m on was narrow, muddy, and completely hemmed in by thick underbrush, young maple, and old oak growth. I’m focused on the small light from my headlamp, just one step after the other, zoned out. Then I heard a loud CRACK! And I froze solid. This is the part I have trouble describing. 0430 in springtime means I’m the only thing making noise. No birds chirping, nothing. Dead quiet.

Mid-step I froze. When fight or flight kicks in you have these immediate instinctive thoughts. The thought that instantly flashed in my mind as I stood there balancing myself into silence was, “If I hear that again, I’m turning around, and I’m going back the way I came in a hurry.” Why? Because that sound was not a branch breaking. It wasn’t deadfall. It wasn’t a widow maker. I was damn sure I had just heard something intentional. Hearing it twice, well, that meant get outta here. To describe it as best I can, it sounded like a decent sized wooden stick being violently whacked against a smallish tree. More a fungo bat sized stick, than a baseball bat. The distinction in my head being that this sound was a crack, and not a thud or thump. And I have described it as, “explosive,” in the past because it was so sudden, and so terribly loud. I had the sense that it was about fifty yards directly in front of me, and it was loud, and clear.

Now, as I stood there, completely spooked, I realized the soon-to-be worst part of my situation. I knew where the sound came from. And I knew where the trail went. In about thirty yards, I was going to come to a 180 degree turn and start up the ridge going away from the creek. This meant, as soon as I got the courage to move towards this noise, I was going to have to turn my back to it, and get up that ridge. This made me very nervous. My heads somewhere between meth fiend murder, and Bigfoot bludgeoning.

Minutes pass. I just breathe my foggy breath into my glasses, and listen. Nothing. Dead quiet. I’ve got about 20-30 minutes until first light. I crank up the headlamp, and start to slowly creep to the 180 turn. When you wear a headlamp in the woods at night, every tree branch in front of you casts a big black moving shadow on the trail. It didn’t help. I get to the turn, and quickly make the bend. I’m moving pretty fast at this point. Trying to be quiet. Taking tiny, shallow breaths so I can listen while humping it up the trail.

And then I smell it. A stench hits me that I can’t describe. I just imagined wet, rotten, death. I’ve actually worked scenes where humans have expired in a past life as a firefighter. This was like days old decomposition, but it just smelled, strange.

I kept walking fast. By the time I made the top of that ridge, I was huffing, and the first light was showing. I didn’t stop moving until full light was out, and the birds were chirping.

I’ve heard it all in our woods. I’ve smelled it all. I’m telling you, I don’t know what the hell that was. Deadfall, and especially leafed out branches, make a lot of noise on the way down. I’ve heard it many times. RB

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