Geographical Index > United States > North Carolina > Article # 509
Media Article # 509
Sunday, March 28, 1999
Strange Mountain Creature Baffled Hikers
By Randall Floyd
Strange Mountain Creature Baffled Hikers
Web posted March 28, 1999
By E. Randall Floyd
All Rick and Sandy McHenry wanted was a peaceful weekend alone in the North Carolina mountains.
What they got was hell in the highlands.
They pitched camp in Linville Gorge, a rugged area near Grandfather Mountain. ``We crawled into our sleeping bags,'' said Mr. McHenry. ``That's when we heard it.
It was a ``high-pitched, snarling sound,'' they said, and seemed to be that of a wild animal, a bear, maybe, or a mountain lion. The McHenrys, veterans of the Appalachian Trail and numerous other wilderness outings, weren't afraid - merely curious. Around midnight, the snarling stopped and the weary campers slept. But not for long. An hour or so later they heard the noise again. This time, it seemed closer. "It sounded like it was right outside our tent," Mr. McHenry recalled.
Remembering they were alone in the woods, the Washingtonians suddenly felt a pinch of fear.
"We didn't know what it was," Mr. McHenry added. "It could have been a hungry bear or panther. We'd been warned about bears in the area."
But Mrs. McHenry said the sound reminded her of "two old women fussing up a storm." At one point she thought she heard a baby crying.
"I remember thinking how odd that was," she noted. "What would a baby be doing out there in the wilderness at 3 o'clock in the morning? No way."
The eerie cacophony kept up for another hour or so, then stopped. Thinking that whatever had made the noise had gone, they crawled outside the tent with their flashlights and looked around.
In the mud outside the tent door Mr. McHenry found huge footprints, some more than 16 inches long. A series of smaller tracks circled the tent and led into the woods opposite the bigger tracks.
"We didn't know what on earth had made those tracks," Rick said. "It was big, whatever it was, and there was more than one."
With visions of Bigfoot in their heads, they built a roaring fire and sat up all night, fearful the creatures would return.
Next morning a couple of hikers told them about a similar experience two nights earlier. The McHenrys then tracked down a forest ranger who took their report and promised to investigate. "At first he laughed at our story," Sandy said. "I guess he thought we were making it up. But when we told him about the other couple he said he'd check it out."
Before parting ways, the ranger cautioned them to "be careful." But that wasn't enough for the young couple. They packed and left Linville Gorge.
The McHenrys' story is similar to dozens of others that have been circulating in the region. Local gossip holds that some kind of hairy, manlike beast inhabits the Gorge, a popular but rugged wilderness destination for hikers, campers, fishermen and nature lovers.
Some witnesses say the creature resembles Bigfoot, the legendary monster of the Pacific Northwest, right down to the shaggy hair and gigantic footprints it sometimes leaves behind. Cherokee legends mention the "Big People," a hairy race of giants who once lived among the hills. They supposedly coexisted with an equally mysterious group of "Little People" until the arrival of the first white settlers.
Some old-timers think the "Big People" survived. "I think it's possible that a race of these creatures still inhabits these mountains," said Eugenia Meyers, a free-lance writer from Boone, N.C. "These are the oldest mountains on this continent, much older than those on the Pacific Coast, where most Bigfoot sightings are made. It stands to reason that if these creatures exist, they developed here first, then spread across the country."
More encounters of North Carolina's Bigfoot can be expected, she said, as more people move into the mountains.
E. Randall Floyd can be reached at Rfloyd2@aol.com.
Reference to possible BF in Linville Gorge, NC.
Click here to view the original article