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COUNTY: Del Norte County
LOCATION DETAILS: Off Highway 199 just south of the Oregon border. Also Avenue of the Giants off Hwy 101 Humboldt County California.
OBSERVED: A friend and I went driving to camp in Oregon on Hwy 199 in the fall of 1985. We didn't want to stay at a pay site so we pulled off on a side spur road in dense forest and set up a tent. We had our two malamute cross dogs with us who had been by our sides in many backcountry adventures.
As we set up our sleeping bags in the tent the dogs began growling very menacingly with the hair up full on their backs. We thought there might have been a bear around and worried that they would take off after it and be difficult to catch. We left them outside anyway and crawled into our bags to sleep.
Then the dogs began whimpering and trying to claw their way into the tent. We nervously let them in and not long afterwards began to hear howling; first just one voice but then followed by many voices. I would estimate that the sounds came from about 100 yards away. It was reminiscent of hearing a coyote pack or wolf pack but these were not canine voices. They ranged in pitch from "childlike" to adult male and higher female voices. It sounded like a really loud frat. party in the middle of nowhere on a stormy blustery night in the dark. It sounded like the people were talking very loud yet howling at the same time. I've had many experiences hearing coyote packs and this was not what I heard. I have no further explanation. We braved through the night and got the heck out of there in the morning.
The second "experience" I had at Avenue of the Giants was with the samefriend while we were hiking a trail there. It was again the fall of 1985 about a month later than the first. We had a map with us and decided to cut a loop short by going crosscountry through the dense redwood forest.
Not long after we got started, the dog we had with us (same as one of the dogs previous) lunged out full on his leash and began dragging my friend up a steep incline. We reached the top and noticed large foot shaped impressions (maybe 14-18 inches long and 8-10 inches wide) in the duff below. Above us on the length of ground the dog drug us through, braches were snapped off clean up to 10 feet high on the trees. We made our way back to the main trail with no further incident.
ALSO NOTICED: The most striking thing was the odd behaviour of the dog(s). Anyone who has owned a malamute knows they are very bold dogs that basically aren't afraid of anything especially when there's more than one. When the dogs (near Oregon) tried to claw their way into the tent, it sent shivers up my spine and I must say I didn't get much sleep that night. Again, with the incident at Richardson Grove, the dog actually stood up on its hindlegs and "walked" while lunging forward up a steep bank dragging my friend who weighed about 170 lbs with it in its pursuit of the thing that left big footprints. Never had that dog do that before or since in spite of many wilderness adventures, bear, elk, deer etc. encounters.
OTHER WITNESSES: One witness besides myself.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: First incident was about late October 1985. Second incident was early December 1985.
ENVIRONMENT: First incident it was dense mixed forest of madrone, fir etc near a small creek at a low elevation, maybe 1000 feet, off Highway 199 about 10 miles south of the Oregon border.
Second incident it was mature redwood forest just off the Avenue of the Giants near Richardson Grove, CA off Hwy 101; again at a low elevation.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Robert Leiterman:
Follow up from the Richardson Grove Encounter. I was assigned to Richardson Grove State Park (Southern Humboldt County, CA) for two years, June 97 to April 98, and I know that place pretty good. John and I decided to split up J.'s two sightings. I took the one at Richardson Grove and John took her other encounter off hwy. 199 (Del Norte County, CA). So between the two of us, we got the goods.
The following is what was shared: On 11-16-99, I called J. at the witness's residence to follow up on the November 27th, 1985 encounter at Richardson Grove State Park. It was a drizzly, late afternoon, the day after Thanks Giving. It was 3:00 p.m. when the witness and a friend decided to take their dog for a walk up the “Woodlands Trail”.
The witness was about ½ way around the 1.6 mile loop trail when the dog picked up a scent, from the forest shadows above them and then began to lunge up the side of the embankment on his hind legs, pulling strongly on his leash. The witness said they had taken the dog into the forest many times before, but this time felt that the dog behaved unusually strange. It was at that time they began to hear the loud crunching of the leaves and the braking of the branches, coming from the top of the slope above them.
From where they were standing along the trail, couldn’t see up the slope towards the disturbance because of the forested topography. They decided to curiously follow their dog a “short ways”, approximately 10’ to 12’ up a steep embankment and then to the top of a nearby ridge, approximately 20’ to 25’ above the trail. The noise of the disturbance had stopped prior to their cresting the top of the small ridge. They thought for sure they would run into a bear when they reached the top, But what ever had made the noise was gone by the time they arrived.
They were surprised to find that the lower branches on several of the nearby trees had been freshly broken off up to 10’ above the forest floor. The diameter of the branches varied in size from very small to 3” to 4” in diameter. The witness said it wasn’t the tops of younger trees that you hear about in some of the reports. These were the lower branches that had been broken off at the base of an older tree. On the top of the small ridge, in the forest duff just bellow the broken branches, they noticed some disturbance. When they examined them closer, they noticed the disturbances were actually foot impressions. The impressions appeared to be approximately 16 “ in length.
They cautiously followed the impressions a “short ways” farther up the slope. Along the way they noticed one or two of the large impressions looked very much like a human footprint. The witness claimed to have seen bear prints before, and was very sure that those were not from a bear. The witness had never seen any prints like those before. The witness noticed that the impressions did not have any claw marks, in the easier to read, softer soil. It was then that they decided to work their way, cross-country, back to the other loop of the trail and head back to their camp.
“Why wait until now to report it?” I inquisitively asked. The witness said I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors and has seen some very strange things before. At that time in the witnesses life, didn’t feel the need to report it. It was a younger daughter who encouraged the witness to report the encounter to the B.F.R.O. Web site. The witness thought we would like to know. Respectfully, Robert. End report.