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COUNTY: Smyth County
LOCATION DETAILS: The incident happened on Glade Mountain on an old forest road no longer accessible by vehicle, about 25 minutes after the gate.
[Investigator (MM) Notes:
GPS coordinates for locaiton on Glade Mountain where the creature was spotted: 36.844870,-81.391063
NEAREST TOWN: Atkins
NEAREST ROAD: Kiawana Road
OBSERVED: I was walking to a hunting blind on the first day of muzzle-loader season. It was dark and I was using my flashlight to guide the way. When I veered off the forest road and onto a logging road, I saw a dark mass about 40 yards in front of me. At first, I thought I had walked upon a bedded bear. I stopped and pointed the flashlight in its direction. The dark object went from horizontal to vertical, turned away from me, and walked into a laurel thicket, making very little noise. It was solid in color and very tall.
ALSO NOTICED: 35 years walking to my hunting areas...I have never felt fear or apprehension until this incident
OTHER WITNESSES: Just me!
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 20 minutes before sunrise
ENVIRONMENT: Heavily forested with hardwood and some pine. Several water sources (small mountain creeks) in the area. Many old logging trails are around.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Dan Kegley:
I spoke with the witness by phone a few days after his encounter. He is a very credible middle school teacher. He has hunted on Glade Mountain for 35 years, having grown up at the northern foot of the mountain.
On the morning of the encounter he took his normal route, driving westward along a Jefferson National Forest Road. He parked his vehicle and began walking to where an old logging road branches off. The main road dead-ends further west and there is no other access to this forest road.
He walked about a mile and a half westward on what he calls an old skidder trail to his hunting blind. The area was logged 50 years ago.
His stand is remote enough off the road that years have passed since he last saw other hunters in the area.
This was a perfect morning for black-powder deer hunting. About 50 degrees. A three-quarter moon was dropping to the horizon, and he walked into a 4-6 miles-per-hour breeze. The moon was bright enough that he could see, but he occasionally shone a flashlight on his path.
Some distance in the moonlight fell on a dark shape across the road.
“Had the moon not been three-quarters full, I wouldn’t have seen it. I thought at first it was a hunter. It was a dark mass, and then I thought I was walking up on a bear.”
He shone his flashlight about 50 yards down the path, and could tell the shape lay horizontal across the road. A hunter, he said, would have flashed a light or otherwise revealed his presence.
Soon the horizontal shape became vertical and very tall. The witness is 6’3” and 230 pounds. The shape was taller “and much more broad than I am,” he said.
“I could make out that it was on two legs. A bear can stand that tall, but not walk like that on two legs." That is what the dark figure did as it turned away from the witness. Until that point he thought "maybe it’s going to charge me.’”
“It walked about 20 yards down the path and turned left” out of sight, he said.
“It moved a long distance very quickly. I would have to jog or run to cover that distance. I cannot believe something that size could move without noise. And it was almost silent when it left. A bear makes a hell of a noise leaving.”
The whole 20-second episode, especially the creature’s nearly silent and upright departure, left the witness startled.
He put a cap on his muzzleloader, preparing it to fire, for safety. “I was baffled, confused,” he said. “It made my hair stand up.”
After considering skipping hunting that day and going home, he walked on toward his stand. After passing the place where the creature stood up, he came to the point where it turned left.
From a laurel [Rhododendron] thicket off the trail came a “sound like someone clearing their throat for six or eight seconds,” he said.
Heading home later in the day and passing the encounter site, the witness observed the creature had walked up a steep slope that morning, something most fleeing animals avoid. The laurel thicket it entered was higher than his head.
There was no sign of the creature, except for disturbed leaves on the ground, “messed up every four or five feet.” He looked for hair on the laurel bushes but found none.
“It’s something I can’t explain,” he said. Never much interested in Bigfoot, he used to “poke fun” at his wife for watching television shows about the creatures.
“It has made this skeptic rethink what is possible. Two weeks ago I would have laughed. I’m not saying I’m a believer. I can’t explain it.”
The witness saw little detail of the creature. “I couldn’t tell the length of its arms or how hairy it was. I did not see its eyes but it was one solid color, and I could tell it had a rear.”
The witness said the encounter was on a north-facing slope with abundant fox grapes and laurel. Two small streams lie 10 minutes from the sighting location back toward where he parks.
There was no odor.
Note from Matt Moneymaker:
There are Rhododendron forests all over this mountain. See the plant images below from Glade Mountain. The bigfoot in this case fled into a thicket of this stuff.
About BFRO Investigator Dan Kegley:
For 23 years Dan Kegley worked at small-town Virginia newspapers in positions including reporter, news editor, editor, photographer/darkroom technician, and general manager until 2012 when he departed journalism for a position in Smyth County (Virginia) Circuit Court. He began in the criminal division, became the records vault supervisor in August 2015 and is a master deputy clerk.
For several springs in the mid-1980s, Kegley worked as a student with Dr. Steven Hopp at Emory & Henry College in ornithological studies of the vocal behavior of white-eyed vireos relative to phases in the nesting cycle. Following graduation he conducted a statistical analysis of the variation in daily volunteer counts at hawk-migration count stations along the Blue Ridge and published that work in the journal of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. While a student, he worked one summer at the 4-H Center at Abingdon developing outdoor education classes for campers and public-school students centered on Project Wild, a curriculum sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He has participated in the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Kegley is a past president of the Archeological Society of Virginia and has particular interest in early North American prehistory when humans were most intimately connected to their natural world on this continent. He had two papers published in the ASV’s Quarterly Bulletin about his work on a prehistoric village site and a historic location slated for demolition.
He completed the Holston Rivers Chapter Virginia Master Naturalist Program in the spring of 2013, and is a National Weather Service Certified Storm Spotter.