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COUNTY: Coconino County
LOCATION DETAILS: This happened just below the Arizona Snowbowl in Hart Prairie on the San Francisco Peaks. I had hiked up slope from FR 151 which is a fairly well maintained and popular forest road. Hwy 180 goes from Flagstaff to Valle on the way to the Grand Canyon and FR 151 intersects with the hwy about 5 miles past the paved Snowbowl Road.
Specifically, I had started hiking right next to the Nature Conservancy's preserve straight up slope towards the lower end of Snowbowl. I heard the howls at the edge of an Aspen Grove about .25 mile up slope from FR 151.
NEAREST TOWN: Flagstaff
NEAREST ROAD: Hwy 180
OBSERVED: On a cloudy, cool day I went for a hike at Hart Prairie on the San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff, AZ. It was August, but the monsoon season was in full effect and it was a cool day for Arizona. I hiked up slope from FR 151 towards the Snowbowl Ski Resort. The area has springs and so the plant diversity is high and the wildflowers were at their peak. Being a cloudy, cool day I kept an eye out for wildlife which would normaly bed down at midday in August, though I did not see anything other than various songbirds and raptors.
I had been in the area maybe two hours but as I like to wander around slowly (I see more that way) rather than "hike" from point A to point B at a quick pace, I had not covered much ground in that time. I was at the edge of an aspen grove when I heard a loud howling from up slope and a little to the east of me in the direction of the ski resort. My first thought was that it was a foreign tourist goofing off.
Because Snowbowl has a paved road to it and the views are awesome, tourists from all over the world on their way to the Grand Canyon stop at Snowbowl and many hike around as it is a beautiful and inviting area. So I thought I was hearing a human. But I wasn't so sure after the next howl- I was really puzzled. The sound seemed somewhat human-like and the volume, though quite loud, wasn't too extraordinary- I could possibly howl that loud, though it would be hard to do without real strain and the sounds I heard were almost casual- no hint of any strain. But it seemed to be an unusually weird sound for a human to make. Almost as if the human had a deformation of some kind which distorted the sound. This was why I thought of a "foreign" tourist first, because of the weirdness of the sound. I heard about a half dozen calls and it was clear that whatever was making the sounds was coming in my general direction at a rapid pace. By this time, I was sure it was not a human but a large animal.
I was at the edge of a clearing and I waited at that spot expecting to see whatever was making the calls. The first howl was maybe 250 meters away and the final one maybe 75-100 meters away. Then it stopped and I never did see anything. I did not hear it moving through the woods and did not notice any smells. It is possible that whatever it was smelled me as the air was gently moving up slope towards the animal. I think it probable that this was the reason whatever it was stopped moving towards me and vocalizing.
I waited a minute or so after the final vocalization and then I went up slope in the general direction I had last heard it but did not see anything or any indication of a human or animal. My curiosity was at a peak and so I made a real effort to find whatever it was and spent another hour circling the area looking for signs of a large animal passing through.
I have listened to the recordings on this site and I did not make a match between the sounds- though there were some similarities between what I heard and the calls from Washington State and the 'Ohio Howls'. What I heard was not nearly as drawn out and evenly toned as the Ohio recording, but was similar. A deep to mid-range 'howl' with a little variation in the tone somewhat similar to the Snohomish recording. Each call lasted maybe 3-4 seconds and was seperated by various lengths of time from maybe 5 seconds to maybe 15 seconds. Some of the recordings on this site, if I heard in the field, I might describe as having a 'monkey' quality to them- distinctly animal-like. The Ohio recording does not really have that quality and neither did the sounds that I heard. At the time I only thought of a human at first and then I was merely puzzled and could not classify what I had heard.
I have thought about this incident since it occurred trying to put some explanation to it. I do not think it was a human for a couple of reasons: The sound, though it had a somewhat human-like quality, was not at all the type of sound a human would (or perhaps, could) make to communicate to another- say two or more people in the woods who are separated and walking along and vocally maintaining contact with one another. The volume of the sound would have required real effort for a human to achieve and I couldn't imagine a human being able to howl like that and walk around a mountain at that elevation at the same time- and it was traveling fast. Nor did it have any element of humor about it if it was just some high spirited tourist having fun. And there was only one caller, not two or more people hootin and hollering to each other. The call was somewhat somber in tone and there was no hint of excitement or emotion about it. Also, a human walking through those woods would have made a great deal of noise and I would have heard or seen a human when I went looking after the last vocalization. I did not see any humans during that day though I went right to the base of the ski resort and could see the parking lot.
At the time, the sounds did not spook me and I never got that unexplained adrenaline rush and surge of fear that I have gotten on more than one occasion in the wilderness or ocean. I am quite familiar with the wildlife in this area and have heard and seen just about everything except a mountain lion. It certainly was not an elk, bobcat, coyote, dog, or cougar. It might just possibly have been a bear- I have had several close encounters with bears and have heard their vocalizations. But bears do not, to my knowledge, vocalize in such a regular, loud way. Because I heard 6 or 7 howls, I had time to really hear the sound and think about it. To me it sounded most like an ape, though I only thought of this much later.
What I heard was not much of an incident. I puzzled over it for a long time. I am reporting it here because a sasquatch is the best possible answer that I can come up with, though I did not come to that conclusion until months after the incident. So I did a web search on bigfoot and found this site and the recordings. Another puzzling thing though- if it was a sasquatch, that area is quite popular with people and when I go there, I usually do see someone else. That area could be easily avoided by an animal. Despite the abundance of wildlife as a potential food source, why would a sasquatch travel through this area at midday in the summer , howling? The whole incident is weird...
ALSO NOTICED: Nothing unusual
OTHER WITNESSES: no others
OTHER STORIES: No- I have not.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: midday, cloudy and cool with little wind.
ENVIRONMENT: Open meadows surrounded by mixed conifer forest and aspen groves, the elevation is about 9200 feet. Hart Prairie is unusual in dry Arizona in that it has many springs and is a moist area which naturally attracts wildlife. This area is just down slope from the Arizona Snowbowl and the Nature Conservancy has a preserve on part of Hart Prairie. Species diversity is rich compared to most surrounding areas. However, there are many more people at this spot compared to the rest of the Peaks, including several homes and the ski resort.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator TF Zamiski:
This witness has a background in wildlife biology. I spoke with him by phone on 1/12/08. This is a rather long and detailed report. There are no additional details to add but I will offer a few comments.
This general area has been mentioned before during other investigations. Knocking and vocalizations have been reported.
The witness points out that there are springs and abundant wildlife in the area.
Through his own research he can only offer a sasquatch as a best possible source of the vocalizations. The sound seemed to come from a large animal unlike any vocalizations from known animals in this area.
About BFRO Investigator TF Zamiski:
Tim is semi retired. He attended the 2006 Arizona Expedition and the 2006 Wisconsin Expedition. Tim helped organize the 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 Arizona Expeditions and the 2011 New Mexico expedition. Active Investigator since 2005.