My first visit to Bluff Creek was in 1994. A good friend and I went on a naive and fruitless quest to visit the Patterson/Gimlin Filmsite. Having no idea whatsoever as to where to find the site, I chose a location just upstream from a tributary of Bluff Creek called Bigfoot Creek. I reasoned that perhaps the creek got its name from the famous 1967 footage. I was wrong, but that first excursion to Bluff Creek made me fall in love with the area, both for its historical significance as well as its natural beauty. (I found out many years later that supposedly Bigfoot Creek was named thusly because that’s where bigfoots would go to fish steelhead.)
I have gone back to Bluff Creek almost every year since that first expedition, and have learned a lot about the area and its historical locations over time. I finally located the Patterson/Gimlin Filmsite in about 1997. The pond on Onion Mountain where Bob Titmus cast his famous hand cast was located in the early 2000’s. The location of the 1958 Jerry Crew casts that gave American English the word “bigfoot” was found and visited in 2013. There are many secrets still untold in the Bluff Creek drainage, so I will continue to return there for probably the rest of my life.
Over the years, my trips to Bluff Creek were usually in July or August since I was an elementary school teacher and had summers off. This year, I elected to visit in October, which has a historically high frequency of events associated with it. The PG Film, Jerry Crew cast, and several other footprint casts were all taken in October. Bob Titmus used to spend a month or more at a time at Bluff Creek in October every year. If it’s good enough for Titmus, it’s more than good enough for me.
Since bigfooting does not guarantee bigfoot results, it’s always best to go for reasons other than those that are bigfoot-related. To those ends, I arranged to meet friends for this trip. Tom Yamarone, James “Bobo” Fay, and Terry Smith would be my camping companions on this expedition. With these gentlemen, I was sure to enjoy my time in the woods.
I arrived first at Aikens Creek Campground, our rendezvous spot, in mid-afternoon. In less than an hour, my companions started to arrive. By four o’clock, all members of our party had arrived. We were leery about camping in Louse Camp because we were so close to October 20th, the 48th anniversary of the Patterson/Gimlin Film, and we didn’t really want to run in to other bigfooters. We were all looking forward to spending a couple nights with bigfooting buddies in a spot that was and still is special to us all. This trip was for old times’ sake just as much as it was for research.
We gambled on Louse Camp, and were overjoyed when we found it vacant upon arrival. No activities were on the agenda for Friday, so we mostly just made camp and hanged out. Later in the evening, two other bigfooters showed up and stayed on the fringes of the camp. They were young men in their early 20’s wanting to visit the PG Film site. They turned out to be cool and non-invasive, so we hung out with them periodically until they left on Sunday morning. Personally, I saw a lot of myself in them. After all, I started visiting Bluff Creek in my early 20’s in search of the PG Film site. You gotta start somewhere.
Saturday morning brought rain, but luckily we were expecting it. After a breakfast, Tom, Terry, and I went uphill to the east. Bobo elected to hang out and nap in camp since he was feeling slightly under the weather. To help with Bobo’s rest, I took Monkey (Bobo’s dog) along with me. Xochitl (my dog) was with me, so she would have another dog to hang with and do dog stuff..
My group’s destination was Laird Meadow, about halfway up the mountain to the east of camp. Back in October of 1963, Roger Patterson cast two footprints on the road in this area. There were plenty of reasons to make this our destination, plus the spot was just a short drive away.
On the way to Laird Meadow was another destination I wanted to visit. Tucked away along an old forgotten road near Laird Meadow is a small pond hidden by a thick covering of brush. I believe it was here that in 1982 that Bob Titmus cast a handprint of a sasquatch he was tracking. The creature entered the water and scraped its hand across the pond’s muddy bottom and left a long streaky impression. Titmus drained this pond with the help of others and cast the hand print. The original cast, a rare treasure indeed, is on display in the Willow Creek/China Flat Museum.
The water level was low in the pond, so footprints were obvious along its fringes. Bear and deer had visited the water hole in the past week, but no sasquatch prints were observed.
Laird Meadow is really a series of small meadows extending to the north and south of the road. There are usually many animals in the area, and the wet meadows give some chance of footprints being recorded. It’s always good to know what kind of animals are around, so muddy spots should be checked for not only bigfoot footprints, but those of bear, elk, coyote, cougar, or humans. In this case, deer, elk, and bear prints were observed.
Bushwacking through Laird Meadow left me soaked to the bone. Though it was only misting lightly, all of the plants in the area were covered with water drops from the accumulation of precipitation. I had forgotten about the walls of manzanita that one must plow through to get to the good tracking site: a dry pond with lots of exposed silty substrate. Bear, elk, and deer prints were all visible there. At this point, the rain started to come down in earnest, so I made my wet way back to the vehicles and met up with my companions who took their own paths and didn’t want to get so wet.
Once back in the warm cars, our caravan made our way back to base camp. We explored an overgrown and abandoned logging road along the way before making a quick stop at Notice Creek Landing. This is where I had my first definitive sasquatch experience with my ex-wife also being a witness. I went over the encounter with Tom and Terry and showed them the road where I found possible footprints a few years after my initial encounter.
When we returned to camp, Bobo was feeling better and was up and around. He informed us that he heard “rock clacking” from downstream in the creek after we had left that morning. He initially thought it was us, but soon realized that we were gone. No answers to the clacking, nor anything else unusual was heard.
Later that afternoon, I walked downstream from Louse Camp on what was once a road, but is now a moderately flat, overgrown trail. It was clear that I was not the only thing using this trail. Bear prints criss crossed the path every which way.
I made a few whoops and claps as I walked down the valley. I never heard any animal noises above the sound of the nearby creek. Eventually, dusk made me turn around and make my way back to camp. I always make sure I have plenty of time to make my way back to camp before dark falls. I was once forced to walk alone several miles in the dark down the riverbed of Bluff Creek due to a stupid timing mistake on my part. It is not an experience I am hoping to repeat, so safety and timing are always forefront on my mind when hiking alone.
We stayed close to camp that night, choosing to remain under our rain tarp rather than walk the muddy roads in periodic showers. I eventually headed to bed a little before midnight hoping to rest enough for a full day of hiking on Sunday.
After coffee and breakfast the next morning, the group decided to split up. Bobo decided to head home since he wasn’t feeling well and he lived so close. Tom and Terry wanted to go to Orleans for supplies.
Our young bigfooting friends in the camp next door needed to drive back to Ventura that day. I had nothing particular to do, so I was eager to see what happened. I like having no plans. After all, a jar is only useful if it’s empty.
By mid afternoon all of the various folks went their various ways, and I decided to head to the Patterson/Gimlin Film site. After all, the anniversary of the film was in just two days, and this was my only chance to get there on this trip. Xochitl had never been there, either, and I definitely wanted to bring her there.
I drove up the forest service road to the east until I found the turn off down to the creek nearest the film site. Back when I first started visiting the site, one could drive all the way down to the creek bed, but at some point in the last ten years the forest service built a large berm to stop vehicles from driving the road. There is a nasty rock slide on this road that has claimed two of my tires over the years and almost claimed a few bigfooters’ lives. A bit further down the road is a huge washout that assures that the road will never be driven again by any vehicle.
It’s a bit of a walk downhill from where one has to park, but after a thirty-minute walk that crosses the creek several times, I made my way to the film site. Once at the site, I found three game cameras left there by the Bluff Creek Project, so I smiled and waved as I passed them hoping to give them something to laugh at when they check the SD cards. There is a water bottle containing a notebook hanging on one of the cameras as sort of a guest book, so I wrote my name along with Xochitl’s with the date of our visit.
Sunlight can disappear quickly in deep, narrow canyons like Bluff Creek. Still, I judged I had enough time to hike downstream to an area where Jerry Crew found footprints in the creek bed back in 1958. This location is just a little upstream from where Jerry cast the famous footprint on a logging road above the creek that same year. I took home video of that area for my personal files. (I might use it as B-roll in the Jerry Crew segment of the upcoming Bigfoot Roadtrip 2, but it’s good to have whether I use it or not.) I was able to visit this other Jerry Crew site and walk up the hill to my vehicle before dark.
The group’s last night in Bluff Creek was spent feasting, playing guitar, and enjoying the company. I headed to bed around midnight, exhausted from walking through the uneven terrain all day.
My friends were up earlier than I was and were almost done packing by the time I climbed out of my tent. We hung out a bit before they drove away leaving Xochitl and I alone at Louse Camp. I took my time getting things together before leaving. I was in no hurry to leave. I love it there. I wanted to soak in the sounds, smells, and sights of Bluff Creek before I had to leave.
I still had a long day ahead of me. I scheduled a visit with Steven Streufert at Bigfoot Books. He is intensely interested in Bluff Creek history, and I wanted to chat with him about Jerry Crew and other topics. We ended up having lunch together and talking way too long. I didn’t leave Willow Creek until after 5:30 pm.
That night, I found a camp along the Smith River. I wanted to shave a couple hours of driving off my trip back home to Portland, OR. I spent a short night sleeping before getting up before sunrise. I was greeted by a lovely conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and Mars in the eastern morning sky. It was a perfect ending to a great trip.
To see more photographs from this expedition, click on the gallery below: