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COUNTY: El Dorado County
LOCATION DETAILS: Cronan Ranch public rec area.
American river which was accessed from Pedro Hill staging area
NEAREST TOWN: Coloma/Lotus
NEAREST ROAD: 49
OBSERVED: I was very hesitant to make a report, but was encouraged by a friend. So here it is.
I am an avid equestrian. I am now in my 60ís and ride strictly for relaxation. I trail ride 4-5 days a week. The area I ride is a large rec area called Cronan Ranch. It is strictly for bikes, horses and hiking with miles and miles of trails. No motorized vehicles allowed. The American River borders the rec area.
When I ride I almost always go by the river to give my horses a drink. For hikers/day walkers this particular river access point is the closest to the Pedro Hill trail head parking lot. But still a long walk to the river with the return being all uphill.
In the summer you will almost always find people at this access point enjoying the river. There has been since I have been riding here over the last 3+ years a picnic area with several large heavy duty wooden picnic tables. It is a awesome spot with shade and pit toilets nearby the tables. But it is a tough trek for the average person who might not be fit or small children.
I often ride alone with my dog and lately I bring my other horse along to get exercise. I pony/lead him while riding my horse. Because I am older and ride alone so much I try to be very aware of my surroundings for both predatory animals such as bear and lion but also human predators. The latter is not a strong issue here but still wise to be aware.
On this particular day I went out later in the morning than I normally do, getting to the trail around noon. There were a few hikers coming back to their cars but very few people and cars around this time of day. I rode about a 6 mile ride and did not see another person the entire ride which is somewhat unusual.
I rode to the river to my favorite point for my horses to get a drink where the bank is less rocky. After the horses watered I decided to go over to the picnic area and take some photos. I had bought some new camera equipment that I wanted to experiment with and I thought I would use the tables to set up my tripod. To my surprise the tables had all been removed! I honestly donít know if this is significant to the story or not, but it struck me as very strange because it would have been quite a monumental task to remove these very heavy tables.
So I stood there just letting the horses rest while a took just a couple of pictures with my phone. The first pic I will post will be a picture I took looking towards the river. You will notice the two large trees with the gap looking towards the river. The river is hard to see as there is a small hill/mound between me and the river. This photo is strictly for reference.
After taking the photo I put my phone away and prepared to head back. I had abandoned the idea of trying the new equipment.
As I still stood there facing the river, some movement caught my eye and I turned my eyes toward the movement.
What I saw was ďsomethingĒ that was obviously darting into some cover to avoid being seen. I caught only a quick glimpse but the part of the body was the buttocks and leg as it ran and ducked. It appeared to be reddish brown in color. As we all know our minds are very capable of quickly assessing what our eyes see - or at least attempting to. My first impression was oh it is someone down at the river possibly skinny dipping who didnít know I was there. The reason I thought it was a person was the movement. It appeared to be upright and moved and acted like a person wanting not to be seen. However, I quickly reminded myself it was dark reddish brown, so not likely naked especially with the water in the 40 degree range.
Let me say this..I cannot say the reddish brown was hair. I do not see details like that at that distance to say definitively. So my next thought was oh it must have been a bear. Now from the time I saw this and all these thoughts went thru my head was only seconds. Maybe split seconds before what happened next. Had I only caught this glimpse of whatever it was and that was it? I would have rode on and never thought about it again. But within a second of jumping into this cover which consisted of some low tree branches and brush, I saw a small group of trees that suddenly began violently shaking. The branches or trunks were being pushed back and forth crossing over each other by a good four feet and again, violently being shook.
I stood there watching in shock and wondering what the hell was that! I decided to ride up the trail that paralleled this spot and get to a higher point to see if I could figure out what it was. I kept my eyes peeled for any movement. The area had bushes and large rocks, but I knew if this was a bear it was open enough that I would eventually catch sight of him. It is unusual behavior for a bear to climb a tree for safety, and most bears do not wish to share space with humans. They normally just run or walk away. They do not normally crouch down and hide. So my thought was still that this could still be a bear. After all Bigfoot is not and should not be anyoneís first thought and it wasnít mine. However, when I could not see any sign of anything I was totally mystified and thought that I might backtrack and get closer to the spot and see if anyone or anything was hiding. Because whatever it was I felt was hiding. But since I was alone and unarmed I decided to just leave.
The more I contemplated what I saw the more mystified I was. I came home and told my husband the story and he was also shocked and mystified. So I decided that I would go back the next day and see if I could see any evidence that might explain what I saw.
The area as I mentioned before was very rocky and even my horse at over 1000 pounds did not leave much of a track if any. So I wasnít really expecting to see a track. But to my surprise there was a somewhat sandy area near the sighting and I noticed a footprint that had distinct toes. My first thought was that it was likely a human footprint because this was a popular area and despite the cooler weather and very cold water someone might take off their shoes. But decided to get down and look closer. To my shock the footprint was much longer than my boot! While not very wide it was dramatically bigger than mine. I wear a size 9 (womanís) and I was also wearing boots which are bigger yet. I took a photo but unfortunately photos often donít do justice to the definition that I could see with the naked eye.
After finding the footprint I proceeded to the area where the tree(s) was where it darted into. What shocked me the most was the tree. What I thought was a group of trees was actually one tree. The diameter of the base was at least a foot or more. The tree had obviously at some point due to what appears high water levels during a record storm been under water. The waters had sheared off the top at about the 12 foot level. After the water receded the tree recovered and grew new branches. It was these branches that were being violently shaken back and forth. This was not just shaking the tree. The branches were grasped as though with two hands and flailed back and forth. When it let go of them they snapped back into place.
This animal had to reach the 8-10 foot range at least and brutally strong. While bears are VERY strong and do push on trees, their paws are not very suited to grasp two branches at once and push and pull them apart. Also why would a bear going from running away to immediately stop and shake the tree. Iím not saying that is not possible but doesnít seem probable. I did not see any other evidence and due to the fact that I did not see the head of this thing I stay openly skeptical as I think everyone always should. But that is my story and you can take it for what you wish.
OTHER WITNESSES: No
OTHER STORIES: No
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 2:00 pm
ENVIRONMENT: River edge small to large rock and boulders. Brush and trees scattered along river edge.
About BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
Matthew Moneymaker is originally from the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles, California.
- Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
- Founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization,1995.
- Writer and co-producer of the Discovery Channel documentary "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science", 2001.
- Co-producer of the TV Series "Mysterious Encounters" for the Outdoor Life Network (OLN Channel), 2002.
- Producer of the "2003 International Bigfoot Symposium" (Willow Creek Symposium) DVD set, 2004.
- Co-host of "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet Channel, 2010 - 2017.
- Current Director of the BFRO