Where to begin? Rochelle and I had taken our kids to the Oregon Caves National Park in southern Oregon. We ate lunch at a picnic table and then took a tour of the caves. The caves were spectacular. If you haven\’t seen them before, they are a ‘must see’ experience. Upon our exit of the cave, everyone usually turns to the right to go back down to the gift store and lodge. We are fresh from Alaska, however, and love to hike in the outdoors (we had just moved from Alaska to Oregon earlier this year). We decided to go left and hike up to see the Big Tree, a Douglas fir with a circumference of 40 feet that is about 800 to 1,000 years old.
We hiked about one mile into the forest up the mountain. As we were hiking up the trail, we noticed a very strong, pungent smell. It was as strong as a skunk, but knew that it wasn\’t a skunk. We were standing downwind of the smell. We continued to hike up the trail as it started to switch back to the right the higher we climbed. There were plenty of tall trees and brush.
Suddenly I heard a faint sound. It sounded like, \”Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!” At first I thought it was the blood vessels pounding in my head because it was a constant sound/rhythm and I\’m out of shape(it was a big mountain and we were constantly walking up, up, up, up). We kept walking up the trail. I heard the sound again, this time even louder. I thought to myself, \”This sound is external – not internal.\” We stopped and I asked, \”Do you guys hear that sound?\” Rochelle, Levi, Hannah, and Micah looked at me and nodded their heads in affirmation. Don\’t ask me why, but we continued to walk up the mountain through the very tall trees and brush.
The sound continued in cycles of five to six repetitions (“Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa”). Louder and louder. Now the sound was behind us. I started putting one and one together in my mind and my biological \”fight or flight\” responses kicked in. I stopped my family on the trail. I instructed them to stay quiet. I hiked up the hill to our left by myself, all the while scanning the woods down the mountain on the other side of the trail my family was standing on.
That\’s when I saw it. I swear I\’m telling you the truth. I saw it come out from behind one tree to the left and walk to another tree to the right. Then it looked back and was watching my family where they stood on the trail. I\’ve hiked through the woods in Alaska numerous times and believe me, I know what a grizzly bear looks like and I know what a black bear looks like. I was actually chased by a grizzly bear on the Russian river in Alaska six years ago. What I saw WAS NOT a grizzly bear or a black bear.
What I saw walked upright on two legs like a human and was much taller than a grizzly bear or a black bear. What I saw (and I swear I saw it, and I swear I\’m not crazy) was Bigfoot (otherwise known as Sasquatch). I swear I saw it. I\’m not lying. I walked fast down to the trail and got my family moving up the mountain. I sure as heck wasn\’t going to go back down the trail where we had come from right into its path. I didn\’t tell my wife or children what I had seen because I didn\’t want them to panic. At this point, the adrenaline was rushing and I was very hyper-vigilant, constantly looking behind us and through the woods.
The sound stopped but I wasn’t convinced we were safe. When we got to a place where the kids could stop and sit on a fallen log to rest and drink some water, I pulled Rochelle away and told her that she wasn’t going to believe what I had seen. She believed me right away. She had smelled the foul odor and had heard the repetitive cycles of “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa,\” and she knows I\’m not crazy. I asked her to keep the kids going and said that I would stay at the back to keep my eyes on what was behind us. I told her that if anything came up from behind us or through the woods from the side of us, I would run interference to protect them. I told her that if this happened, I wanted her to run the kids on the trail, don\’t stop, and don\’t look back. We agreed not to tell the children because we didn\’t want to panic them.
We never heard the sounds again and I never saw anything after that. We finally made it out of the woods about 1-1/2 hours later. We sent the kids into the gift store to look for a gift because we had promised to buy them something if they were good hikers and didn\’t complain. Rochelle and I sat on the bench outside the gift store and talked about the pros and cons of whether or not to report what we had smelled, heard, and saw (I didn’t want people to think we were crazy). Rochelle said it was up to me. I decided that I wasn\’t going to keep this a secret because it was real and I know I\’m sane.
I remembered reading about how the albino gorilla was a myth/legend in Africa for quite some time until someone finally captured one. Well, I\’m here to tell you (and the world) today that Bigfoot/Sasquatch is not a myth/legend. The animal really and truly does exist!!! After we made our decision, Rochelle went into the gift shop with the kids. I walked to the Park headquarters and reported what I had seen to a ranger. I sat in the chair stunned and then I began to cry. All of these emotions that I had been stifling began to surface now that my family and I were safe. You don\’t know how vulnerable I felt being so far out in the woods without the ability to protect my family in that kind of situation.
I told the ranger that I was not crazy. I gave her my business card — I’m a licensed psychologist in private practice. I told her that I have two master\’s degrees and one doctorate degree and that I am an intelligent person. I told her that I know what I smelled, heard, and saw. In between the tears and my shaking, I told her that I had seen Bigfoot. She believed me! She didn’t think I was crazy. She said that there is a lot about our world that we don\’t know and that we are discovering new species all the time. She took my story, Rochelle\’s story, and Levi confirmed what the noise sounded like. I was the only one who had seen Bigfoot because I had hiked up off the trail high enough to see him.
I can\’t tell you what Bigfoot looked like other than he was very tall, looked half-human and half ape, walked upright, and had very dark hair (a mix of very dark brown and/or black hair). It had happened way too quick and all I could think about after I saw it was to get my family the heck out of there. Rochelle and I are willing to talk with anyone. We don\’t believe that it is right to have this kind of experience and to hide it from the rest of the world. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would be interested in hearing the truth. I swear that this is a true story that just happened today (7-1-2000 shortly after 5pm).
Dr. Matthew A. Johnson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, P.O. Box 1801Grants Pass, Oregon 975281,