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A True Story: The Cry of the BigfootJD Adams for Salem-News.com
The Bigfoot legend's close proximity to Salem, Oregon.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Mill City lies in the heart of Oregon's big timber country. I spent the early years of my youth there, exploring old trails that wound through the thick forest to lookouts high atop the mountains. Here Oregon's climate nourishes a towering evergreen rainforest folded into a maze of canyons and ridgetops, where countless streams and waterfalls lay hidden.
Although logging roads bisect much of these wild areas, there is a sense of mystery that pervades much of Oregon's backcountry with soft sounds of wildlife, and sudden silence that floats as thick as morning fog through the trees.
When walking on lost trails where logging camps once bustled with busy families, one can still hear the lonely call of creatures unseen, distant and yet powerful, with a strange quality that will stop you in your tracks with a chill as cold as ice.
My wife and I ventured back to my childhood haunts on one such occasion. The area was denoted by a small circle on an old atlas I picked up at a used bookstore. 'Camp 26' was nestled into Green Mountain near Rock Creek, south of Mill City. It was the site of an old logging camp, now grown over with replanted Douglas Fir, marked only by a white signpost without a sign.
Here and there small rusty pieces of metal logging hardware told a story growing fainter every year. Fragments of cable and pulleys, hooks and bolts.
My wife and I piled them next to a tree as a silent memorial to a proud way of life lingering in the forest like an old tree stump with a buckboard scar.
Despite the replanted trees, now 30-40 feet tall, the meadow retained intangible qualities of the old logging camp. A trail meandered through the site, heading toward a nearby creek that once served the needs of thirsty loggers and their families.
According to my map, a small railroad once penetrated the woods nearby, bringing the huge old growth logs to the waiting mill in the Santiam Canyon. Now, the path of the rails was barely discernable, the rough and random windfall was slowly reclaiming man's laborious entry into this shadowy realm.
My wife and I hiked the path toward the creek. We noticed several trees that had been inexplicably snapped off about eight feet above the ground.
Suddenly an otherworldly cry filled the forest around us. It emanated from higher up the Rock Creek canyon, piercing with a strange timbre that was bestial and somehow human. Long and drawn out, with a middle section broken with unearthly trilling, it faded into a nothingness of echoes from afar.
We looked at each other and knew at once that the message was a territorial warning, that we had strayed into the domain of something beyond our knowledge. My wife and I have decades of wilderness experience, and never have we heard anything like it.
If only our video camera had been on at that time to capture the mournful cry. We explored the area for awhile, then wandered to our van and prepared to leave. Instead we sat and waited for another sign of whatever it was that we heard. But there was nothing. Just that single cry that will last a lifetime.
Later when on the Internet, I stumbled upon a website of Oregon Bigfoot sightings, and learned that others had found signs of Bigfoot in the exact same area, with actual sightings in nearby Detroit.
Locals have stories of mysterious occurrences, which point to the existence of a creature of enormous strength and human-like intelligence. On that day, we later wondered, had the eyes of Sasquatch watched us from the gloom of the forest?
J. D. Adams was born in Salem, Oregon, a descendant of Oregon Trail pioneer William Lysander Adams. As a wilderness explorer, photographer, and writer, he sustains a kinship with the spirit of the Oregon country. JD inhabits Oregon's Silicon Forest as an electronics professional with degrees in Electronics Engineering Technology and Microelectronics. He maintains a Web presence with a signature presentation in genres including travel, history, and technology.
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