Of all the states east of the Rocky Mountains, West Virginia is the one that most resembles the Pacific Northwest to me. Though the mountains there are not as tall as many in the west, they have similar shapes and ruggedness. Deep river valleys are the norm throughout the terrain, and many of these valleys are inhabited by family groups of sasquatches.
Dr. Russ Jones, one of the lead bigfoot investigators on the east coast, brought a 2012 vocalization recording to our attention. He and his research partner Darrin had been monitoring several valleys in the general vicinity of Blackwater Falls State Park with 24-hour audio recorders which they later scan for vocalizations. The vocalizations heard on the show were some of the better hits they’ve gotten. It was agreed by all, including Ranae, that the sounds were not those of coyotes. A distinctive “whoop” vocalization in the recording put the sounds squarely in the character of primate. It seems reasonable to assume that the sounds were made by bigfoots, especially with the history of sightings in the area.
The first night investigation was interesting in that both teams heard some strange sounds. Bobo and Matt reported hearing a distant vocalization, but it was out of range for Ranae and I to pick up. However, I heard a clear wood knock almost immediately answering one made by Ranae. We tried to get another one from whatever made it, but after 40 minutes we moved on. (It appears that we moved on right away on the show, but that’s the magic of editing.)
The town hall “meeting” was actually done on the radio station WCHS with DJ Chris Lawrence. The most interesting report that came in was from Randy Mollomo, a witness that I had worked with before on a footprint find in Blackwater Falls State Park. I had previously analyzed the footprint photograph, but I was thrilled to finally see exactly where he found the print. Randy had been walking off-trail near Canaan Loop Road looking for small streams that might hold trout. While bushwhacking through a thick tangle of rhododendrons, he stumbled across a 5.5 inch footprint in a bare patch of mud. The forest floor in the thicket was covered in fallen leaves and forest debris, so this was the only footprint discovered. The print was deeply impressed suggesting a heavy weight for the track-maker. The location strongly suggests that this was not a human print. There is a raised ridge of mud visible in the photograph behind the third, fourth, and fifth digits. This might have been made by a clenching of the toes upon push-off, which can also be seen in other footprints, including those found at the Patterson/Gimlin Filmsite. Russ and I did an experiment with a small wooden stomper at the site and found that two different modes of track-making would not produce the features seen in the footprint. Based on the location and the details seen in the footprint photograph, I am comfortable saying that Randy found a juvenile sasquatch footprint.
Another interesting investigation on this expedition was at the home of a couple who wishes to remain anonymous. We gave them the nicknames of “Randy” and “Michelle” for the sake of the television show. They are long-term witnesses who have seen sasquatches on at least three occasions on their property which is at the top of a ravine leading down to a small seasonal creek. The first time one was seen, it was only by Michelle. She came home one night at saw a red light next to a tree on the other side of their pond. She thought it was a neighbor with a red flashlight, but when she saw two lights she immediately knew it was eyeshine. She judged the height of the eyes to be about eight feet off the ground based on the tree the creature was standing next to.
The next sighting was of just eye shine off in the woods, but it was by both Randy and Michelle. They both witnessed four sets of eyes at different heights from the ground. One set suggested a figure standing very tall, one not so tall, and two smaller sets were at about the same height. The largest figure was standing some distance away from the other three who were grouped together. Interestingly, the eye shine color in this case was green, not red as in the first encounter.
The most recent sighting Randy and Michelle had was one night when they spotted two sasquatches at about 35 yards away in the brush behind a log with their spotlight. They saw two heads popping up behind the log. Randy said the larger head was leaning back to look over the log, much like someone does to read the fine print in a book. This motion would function to hide the top of the head while putting the eyes over the top of the log to see the humans. Randy and Michelle both noticed the teeth of the larger animal, as well as the hair-covered face and eyes. The teeth being visible is important when taken in context of so many other sightings where the sasquatch is reported to be “smiling” of showing its teeth. The baring of teeth is a common behavior in all great apes, and is done in situations where they are stressed or frightened, such as when being seen by humans while trying to hide. Also important in this encounter was the observation that the eyeshine of the two creatures was amber in color.
(For the sake of television, the editors of the episode chose to combine the first and third sightings into one. That is one of the many reasons I choose to take time to write up field notes on each episode so the information can be accurately recorded by those of my readers taking note of such details.)
Besides having three encounters with sasquatches on their property (amazing, but not unheard of), the most interesting thing about these reports is that each one had a different color of eye shine. The first encounter had red eye shine when indirectly illuminated by Michelle’s car’s headlights. The second encounter had green eye shine, but the creatures were illuminated by an old, low power spotlight. The last encounter showed amber eyeshine, but these creatures were illuminated by a high power, million-plus candle power spotlight that Randy bought after the second encounter. Clearly, the eye shine color of sasquatches is dependent on what kind of light is being used to illuminate them. The million-plus candle power spotlight almost certainly had a halogen bulb, while the older spotlight probably had an incandescent bulb. I have no information on what kind of bulb Michelle’s car had at the time. I think it would be interesting for bigfoot researchers to start taking note of this detail when a color of eyeshine is reported from eyewitnesses. It may not amount to anything in the long run, but then again, maybe it will.
After a freezing rafting trip down the river, we found ourselves in an excellent location for the final night investigation above the New River Gorge. The entire area was shut down to human traffic at night. That, combined with a ranger sitting in his patrol car at the gate, would guarantee that we were the only humans in the area that night. The cliff faces below the spot had many rocky outcroppings providing spots of shelter and warming, as well as easy escape routes for nimble wall-climbers. Despite the snow, there was plentiful sign of deer in the area.
Bobo and I took a side trail back into a small valley with a frozen creek at the bottom. After winding our way along the side walls of the valley, we vocalized and received an excellent reply from back in the direction from which we came. It was about three seconds in length, rose in pitch at the beginning, and fell at the end. The recording sounds much more high-pitched than it did in person, but this often is the case. Click below to hear the sound obtained by my recorder.
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After hearing the vocalization, Bobo headed off back down the trail while I stayed behind to adjust the thermal imager. This proved to be a mistake because Bobo then heard four rapid-fire knocks come from down the ravine, which I missed. He told me about the knocks when I caught up to him, so I went down into the ravine to try to spot the knocker. Despite the snow on the ground, I found no trace of what made either noise. I have to assume it was up higher on the hillside than I was able to look, or further back in the intersecting valley. Either way, we left feeling good about having recorded a sasquatch vocalization.
West Virginia is easily one of my favorite states in which to go bigfooting. With excellent habitat and relatively few people (who are wonderfully kind, by the way), it has very high potential for yielding footage in the future. As always, I am looking forward to another trip to West Virginia in the future.