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Michigan Upper Peninsula Expedition 2012.
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jsherman
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 Posted: September 6th, 2012 09:47 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

BFRO Michigan Upper Peninsula Expedition 2012.
August 16-19th

Organizer: Caroline Curtis

Throughout this report I will avoid using the attendees names but will occasionally refer to investigators by name where appropriate. Dates used will correspond to the day in which a night activity began rather than using midnight for the sake of continuity. Place names have been changed. A special thanks to Kevin and Steve for adding their notes and photographs. Vocalizations recorded and more photos will be added at a later date.

The expedition began a month before the trip when Caroline and I scouted the area to be investigated. We had previously found reports from the area and along with the availability of state land and the pristine nature of the nearby Seney National Wildlife Refuge, we believed that we had a good location to begin. We were to meet at base camp, set up and then explore. I arrived early and so plotted GPS points to various two-tracks that looked promising.

The first night we travelled down a two track just off of M77 toward a boat launch but fund the area a bit too far away for our liking. We did however employ some call blasting utilizing vocals I had captured from central Michigan but to no known effect. When we arrived at base camp something very large ran across the river from the near shore. No prints, other than deer, were visible in the morning.

The next day we travelled to the “River Campground”. We walked the trail a few miles north along the river and found it well marked with blue paint but still a bit tight. After lunch we set out for the more southerly “M Camp (MC).” By this time we were hot and tired. We found numerous river overlooks and two-tracks. After walking down one I decided to give a tree a hard rap with my walking stick. Immediately we got a loud knock back. It was not an echo and we were elated. Finally we had something apart from anecdotal evidence to share with the people we were going to lead up here. We decided to have a snack of S’mores at MC. I lit a fire and Caroline and her boys began roasting marshmallows. I walked down to the boat launch to listen to the river that would just underneath campsite #1 where we were located. A wooden bridge allowed me to walk over a load creek to the trash bin I was looking for. At this point I heard a stick snap. It was loud and seemed to come from across the river. It happened again. I assumed it was the boys adding wood to the fire. Then I heard what sounded like two rocks hitting one another. Three times. This sounded more like it came from the creek I had just crossed, maybe from under the bridge. I walked rather quickly to the fire and Caroline asked if I was making the noises. I made sure my recorder was going, it was, and I grabbed my parabolic mic to scan the shore. I paid particular attention to an exposed sand bank on the other side where it seemed that the snapping had come from. I heard more snapping. It was in the air not partially muffled as if it were a branch stepped into the soil. Something out there was making that noise and moving from north to south along the opposite shore of the river. Caroline took the parabolic and followed it down the shore. Later she returned and stated that she had heard the sound of something walking along the gravel road near where I had been earlier. We were the only people at the camp that night.

We knew we had found and interesting place to investigate.

Wednesday, August 15

I drove to the Upper Peninsula to meet up with Caroline and Mark, an investigator from Ohio. Mark had been at base camp since Tuesday and was already exploring the area. We briefly saw one another while we were scouting waiting for our expedition organizer. I set up two camps one at MC and the other at River Campground in order to use both areas as satellite camps. I then travelled to base camp and met with a few attendees and Mark and Caroline. Eventually we were joined by Dave Johnson-MI who would set up shop in a nearby hotel and create detailed maps covering every area of our operations and Bernie-WI whose expertise and knowledge would be put to the test by the youngest members of our expedition—he passed. Further, Kevin—would arrive after a 12 hour drive and nothing could stop him from joining in. Another experienced investigator, Fred-MI would simply wander in the woods wrapped in his jacket and wait in the dark for something to come up and step on him. Later Tom-MI would arrive and bring with him a howl that rivaled the best any human could produce. Steve-IN brought along his audio collection skills and uncanny ability to see in the dark. Our international (Canadian) investigator Terry was also very helpful.

The earliest arriving investigators went to a local diner to plan for the night hikes that the early arrivers were asking for as well as an introduction to pasties. We decided to break into two groups and head toward River Camp. Mark, Caroline and I led a group down the “River Trail.”

At 9pm we arrived at River Satellite Camp and discussed protocol for radios and making vocalizations only on the half hour. We set everyone’s radios to the proper frequency and turned off the roger beeps. We decided to try a leap frog tactic whereby one group walks ahead and the rest follow and eventually overtake the first group which then sits down and listens. I passed my parabolic to one of the young ladies in my group and led them into the trails. We discussed signs like tracks and tree twists as well as likely areas for cover and water sources. We had only walked about thirty minutes when we were forced to stop in a large clearing. The trail had headed downhill and it had been overlooked. While we were getting oriented the young lady with the parabolic said she heard something that sounded like grunting. This was corroborated by other members of the group. A radio call to the other group verified that it was not them. We all met up and decided to try a Pied Piper Routine. One group would walk ahead and stop. The other group would more loudly walk right past the first group and try to get something to follow it. We would sit and wait. The group that bypassed us went down a path that was uncharted so we met up again. This time at around 11pm we decided to do a howl. We had previously begun to talk about how unearthly quiet it was. There were no crickets or sounds of any kind other than the ones we were making. Caroline’s howl was responded to with a sharp and loud crack very similar to the sound of a percussion block. We radioed Dave at River and he had not made the sound. We were all accounted for. We went to River Camp for a campfire and eventually headed back to base camp and/or Mead where a few of the more adventurous were camping.

Thursday, 16th

It was raining. I was alone at River Camp. So I decided to try to set new waypoints for my GPS and possibly mark the trail better as the blue paint disappeared in the glow of our red headlamps at night. I happened to come on an overlook of the river so I edged closer to the bank and about ten feet below me I saw footprints in the mud leading into the river. This is an area known for Brook Trout so it was most assuredly a fisherman. But the closer I looked the more it seemed different. There was a smaller print next to it that seemed normal sized. I took a picture of the prints from where I was and a video in case I fell negotiating the climb down. The prints were 17.5” and 11.5” respectively. There was only one of each. The larger one was over 6” across. I stepped in the mud and made a similar imprint but not nearly as big. The front area had been degraded by the rain and water so there were no visible toes but it was still an interesting find. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWQAHFdL4m0 The rain began to let up and I was approached at my campsite by a fisherman asking about the river. He noticed a BFRO sticker on my car and asked what I was doing in the rain if I was not fishing. I told him and he eventually left to get into his vehicle. Strangely, after driving away he returned and reversed back into my camp. His wife then asked me what she should do if she heard a howl similar to one from the Animal Planet show Finding Bigfoot? We began to talk and she had heard a series of howls from “South Lake” about 13 miles to the north. I knew the area so we discussed exactly where it had happened and what they sounded like. She then asked me my name and said that she remembered me—apparently we both graduated from the same college. She is now a Biology professor at Central Michigan University. “I know my animals and this was no wolf or coyote.”

It was decided that I would lead a group up the River trail in the daylight to plot the course for a night operation. The crew that joined in that hike was attentive, interesting and open to discussion of trails, tracking and all sorts of bigfoot knowledge. They were a mixture of hunters, teachers, experienced and new. We blazed a trail that had not seen a great deal of foot traffic for a while. We eventually found some very large prints in the moss. One was over 16” and we were able to see where something had made huge strides over the open areas of moss. We determined that it had been before the rain because the moss was broken and not simply pushed down like it was when we walked on it. This was roughly the area where we had heard the knock come from the night before.

Thursday 6pm

General Meeting. We had Coney Island Dogs supplied by one of our attendees. This was a great way to get to know everyone. Caroline brought out her life-sized bigfoot plywood cutout and we discussed what we had seen the night before and organized what we were going to do that night. http://s1212.photobucket.com/albums...12Photos054.jpg
We had maps of the area and a sign up white board so people could choose where they wanted to go and who they wanted to be with. As organizers we tried to have at least three groups out at any time that involved varying degrees of difficulty from long hilly hikes to rides with the R2 car-mounted thermal imaging unit. Mark, Bernie and I led the groups going to River while the rest of the investigators travelled to Mead. Team River found the terrain at night to be very difficult and while the group leader never lost the trail, it was difficult to keep all the groups together. I heard an allusion made to the Bataan Death March at one point so we cut the trail short and headed toward the road. The only point of interest was that a tree had been “pushed and/or broken” over the trail that had not been there during the earlier walk and was noted by multiple individuals.

MC had three groups that went out that night called Campground Group, Road Walkers, and Overlook. At 9:45 members at Campground reported possible “eye glow” with corresponding sounds of movement through the woods consisting of continuous stick snapping similar to what was heard on the scouting trip. One individual stated the following: “Steve [Moon] and I noticed eye glow near the bridge on the road to the boat launch. This happened more than once, but the light/white eye glow was very faint and was at a distance of about 15’ away. We also saw red eye glow when we were hanging around Steve’s campsite. [It] was seen by 3 of four people in our group. On Friday, Steve found tracks in the area where the eye glow was coming from.”
At 10:30 the Road Walkers heard a series of three “bird-like” vocalizations that seemed out of place considering the time. All groups reported that radio contact was difficult in this area.

Friday 11am

Mark and I travelled to “Beaver Road” and followed a two-track toward a clearing on high ground where a smaller creek joins the Manistique. We both noted that the area was an excellent spot for a group of people to sit and listen at night because it offered any animal water, high ground for viewing and two rivers to block pursuit.

One of the groups led by Kevin and Bernie decided to travel to Steuben 45 miles to the west in an area where I had a Class B encounter in 1990. According to one of the participants, “We scouted the area for bf signs. I noticed several branches that formed arches near the roadside. They were all together. I asked Kevin if he would be willing to climb the ridge to see if there were other strange stick structures. We came upon a rectangular structure with a dominant stick pointing toward the road. We followed the direction the stick was pointing and found several small branches stuck in the crotch of a tree…later when we returned to the area we had a possible thermal image.” This woman also described feelings of nausea that occurred both near the stick structures as well as in the areas where she saw “eye glow.” The thermal image was seen by Kevin and he initially thought it was an animal because it was low to the ground. But it began to raise and lower its head and then ducked for cover. When the group began to approach the spot where the image had been they heard a “trill” or soft whistle from behind then and to their right. Furthermore they heard a “plink” sound later possibly identified as the sound two rail road spikes make when struck together. Railroad spikes are common in this area where tracks were often laid by either loggers or members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. When they approached the area of the thermal image they found large scratch marks in the soil as if something large had run off very quickly. Dreadlock-lock like hair similar to the description of the figure in report # 24127 http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=24127 was found and collected at the site by Kevin. This was eventually shipped off to a BFRO hair expert for analysis.
One group headed to Beaver Road and found prints that were cast by Steve Moon. The father and two sons looked for trails that large animals might use and came across the prints. “Keeping our eyes open for broken branches higher than normal paid off for us.”

Caroline took a group of individuals to South Lake to investigate the reports of howls the night before.

5pm

General Meeting. We had a pot luck dinner and a presentation about field recording that was well received. Vocals from Michigan, including those that will be heard on the Michigan episode of Finding Bigfoot got the attention of the entire campground. We broke into groups that focused on Mead.

Caroline led a team that cooked bacon at the boat launch. Another group travelled across the main road to the east on a two track. Mark and I followed a trail near a bend in the river we called Ninja darts because I threw sticks at him. Radio contact was difficult at times so we were glad we had established the every half hour vocalization rule. At Mead around 10:00pm one of the group, who had his recorder going, made a tree knock and was answered by three beautiful and clear return knocks. After all groups were accounted for it was evident that the three knocks were not made by any of our members.

12:15 am

The group had begun to disperse back to their camps and Mark and I were getting into his truck when we heard a long and loud howl. It was off of the time schedule and it was heard and recorded by numerous members of the group. Right at that time another member who was staying at Mead came running up and asked if we had heard a huge log breaking and a crashing near the river. We had not but others had. Throughout the night there had been multiple instances of eye glow seen from the boat launch area as well as sounds coming from the forest and across the river. Caroline described one such sighting in the following manner: “I saw two red eyes for about two seconds. I blinked and blinked. Finally I convinced myself.”

At this point our vehicle headed toward base camp. Just before turning onto the road away from MC we saw four red headlamps coming our way with obvious haste. Here one of the participants takes up the story.

“About an hour and a half after sitting around base camp not hearing/seeing much of anything going on, the "four lost boys" decided to go for a bit of a walk down River Road with the intention of making some howls and/or knocks from atop a ridge overlooking the river about a mile down the road. We walked down the road without any lights on and found the forest to be suspiciously quiet. That was until we made a few knocks with our wood block. Immediately after making a few wood knocks we heard what sounded like 15-20 coyotes go absolutely crazy in response. At first they were definitely a good distance away from our location, but they quickly became frighteningly nearer to us. Deciding it was in our best interest not to come across a pack of hungry coyotes, the four of us decided to turn around and begin our walk back to camp. Walking in a straight line across the road, the four of us walked slowly, without lights on and heard what sounded like something "stalking/escorting" us from within the tree line to our 8 o'clock. We each heard what sounded like sticks breaking from just behind us. It sounded a lot like something was walking through branches and twigs were snapping off of trees as it plowed through them. We decided to test our "stalker" by coming to an unexpected and immediate halt. Rick called out the pace and had us stop at the count of three. Just as we came to an immediate stop with near military precision we heard what sounded like something large stumbling to a stop with three shuffling type steps. At this point, a couple of us otherwise very "macho men" were nearly forced to hand in our "man cards." We decided to carry on with a bit more haste back towards camp. However, after walking about 100 or 150 yards, we composed ourselves and in an attempt to provoke whatever was still trailing us the other three guys convinced me to attempt a whistle-type sound as a means of seeking a response. As I took a deep breath and prepared myself to provoke the creature, I turned 90 degrees to my left and out of the corner of my eye I witnessed what I described to be an incredibly large black mass consisting of the suspected creature's shoulders and head move from behind one tree towards another closer to us. All that I was able to see was the creature's profile as it was outlined by the bright stars and navy blue sky breaking through the forest. I distinctly recall seeing stars disappearing as this "mass" moved in front of them while others appeared from behind it. Within half a second of seeing this "moving mass" I jumped backwards about five feet, yelled, "Oh! Poop!" (I didn't say poop...but I'm keeping this at a G-rating). I scrambled to turn on the red LEDs of my headlamp, explained in stammering, broken words what I witnessed to my fellow "lost boys" and began moving with significant haste towards the relative security of the large group of people at the base camp. After seeing the mass and yelling a few choice expletives we did not hear anything trailing us any longer. I suspect it was pretty sure the "gig was up" and that it had been seen so it peeled off to the forest.

Back at base camp, we shared the experience with the group and heard additional noises in the forest around us. I was more than ready to get out of there so I wasn't taking very many mental notes of the activity that followed the experience on the road. I was admittedly nervous to wander too far off into forest in a small group even the next night. Whatever it was that was following us on the road Friday night startled us quite a bit.”

Saturday.

Steve Moon led investigators to an area he had found filled with possible stick structures. http://s1212.photobucket.com/albums...exstructure.jpg
Kevin, Mark and I took the “Lost Boys” back to the area of their encounter. We had identified the place prior to picking them up on the basis of their description which lends to the credibility of their story. We recreated the scene and took measurements and looked for possible evidence. What they said was plausible based on the topography of the area.

While this was going on other members walked along the creek to look for signs of activity near where the branch had broken and “been thrown in the river,” A few intrepid individuals swam across the creek and investigated possible prints along the shore. We then went and scouted new areas around the river as is was decided that this was the area with the greatest amount of activity. We isolated eight different locations and stationed people at each site. We coordinated radios so that we could relay information over longer distances with Caroline in charge of the MC area and Dave in patrol in his R2 equipped vehicle. One group headed east near the stick structures, Fred Greca sat alone along a suspected trail near where the sighting had occurred. Mark took the Ninja Darts river bend. A group sat at Overlook #1, another at Overlook #2, one group with Kevin Zorc at Overlook #3 (Mattress) and I led a group to the tip of the spear at Overlook #4.

Immediately Overlook #4 had movement across the river. We pulled out the parabolic and could hear something moving slowly along the bank. Occasionally locals would fire off very high quality fireworks and that was a treat. We heard occasional howls in the distance and wood knocks behind us to east. The parabolic microphone began to act strangely and was producing feedback “like a Geiger counter” when pointed toward the river and the sounds we were hearing but not when pointed away. This has not happened to this piece of equipment before. We also lost radio contact with everyone but Mattress Group. Strangely, they could hear our transmissions but we could not hear theirs. At one point I walked away from the group to pick up Mark who was inbound as we had lost contact with Mattress Group. A whoop howl was heard and my radio request for confirmation led us to believe no one else was in the area to the south east where the sound had originated. At that point the remainder of Overlook #4 heard a “Swish, swish, swish, sound and then a huge splash,” They described it as if something had been walking in the water then jumped in and was heading toward them. Twig snaps and “something moving around us like footfalls,” was unnerving for the group. One member said she saw glowing white eyes in the distance. A scan with night vision showed nothing. We started a fire and sat around enjoying the heat. We heard a long and beautiful howl that Mark and Caroline immediately recognized as coming from Tom Kimball. We decided it was time to pack it in. Group Mattress had already left as had everyone else.

During the night Steve Moon and Tom Kimball were sitting at MC. “Tom Kimball and I topped off our Sunday morning by sitting on the bridge over [the] Creek, facing away from the river. It was about 1:30 a.m. I think. During our conversation I made some animated gestures with my hands. When I did so I observed two blue eyes glowing at me at one O'clock, and about fifteen or so feet out. They were faint, tiny little eyes that appeared to be about three inches apart at the most. About a minute or two after that another identical set of eyes appeared a few feet further away, probably at about twenty feet, a little to the left and just beyond the first set. We both heard what sounded like a handful of small rocks being tossed in the water directly below us, twice.”

On returning to base camp one individual had what she called a “Hmm moment.” When she shut her truck door she heard “…from the vicinity of the campsite next to mine and very close to my own tent what sounded like a bear issuing a huff/warning growl followed by the soft cracking of a couple of twigs. Not feeling overly brave enough at that point to investigate, I crawled into the relative safety of my tent.”

Sunday.

People began to slowly head home.
Please feel free to add to this document or correct mistakes if you were a member of the expedition. Any errors in commission or omission are mine alone.
Respectfully,
Jim Sherman
MI-BFRO

Our Group:

http://s1212.photobucket.com/albums...oupPhoto-sm.jpg

(Edited by jsherman)
(Edited by jsherman)
(Edited by jsherman)
(Edited by jsherman)
Jim Sherman
BFRO Investigator, Michigan Northern Lower Peninsula Expedition 2011, Michigan Upper Peninsula 2012, co-organizer MI UP 2013.
 
 
ArtinNJ
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 Posted: September 7th, 2012 08:06 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I can only think of one thing to say : WOW !!!!
 
 
PrestonC
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 Posted: September 17th, 2012 09:19 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Oh, man! I wish I could have been there, but I had a two-week old baby at home. A future Squatcher! :-)
Next time, Michigan... next time.
"Adventure is written in the heart of man." - John Eldredge
Expeditions: MN '11, OH '12, MI '13
 
 
Kelli
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 Posted: September 23rd, 2012 12:05 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

It's really odd how I keep finding reports (expeditions or otherwise) that make me go "Oh, *****" because they are so similar to what I've experienced in the woods. *shrugs*
"History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous." --Jean-Luc Picard, U.S.S. Enterprise
 
 
jsherman
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 Posted: September 27th, 2012 10:33 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hi Kelli, you get the "Wow if I would have known what I was hearing then" feeling?
Jim Sherman
BFRO Investigator, Michigan Northern Lower Peninsula Expedition 2011, Michigan Upper Peninsula 2012, co-organizer MI UP 2013.
 
 
Kelli
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 Posted: September 28th, 2012 12:10 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Jsherman: Definitely! That report you wrote about the coyotes in the initial expedition report is incredibly similar to what happened to me at one point. I've grown up with dogs (not one of them surgically de-barked) and I grew up hearing coyotes most nights. The ones I heard just didn't sound like coyotes.....Now I wonder what else I've missed.

I think I know what everything is and then something like this comes along to *really* confirm it! lol
"History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous." --Jean-Luc Picard, U.S.S. Enterprise
 
 
craiganderson
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 Posted: August 9th, 2014 08:55 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

great report. i went on the 2007 expedition to the UP and man that is one squatchy place. it was incredible....
"feel the fear and do it anyway"
 
 




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