Two things happened yesterday. First, the BFE was inundated with new readers. We hope you enjoy your visit and urge you to dig through the archives, there is some good stuff hanging out from the early days buried in there.
The second thing that happened is we received a couple of comments drawing our attention to the announcement that the Sunday guided tour at the Ohio conference had been cancelled. Some of those comments were a bit cynical, connecting the difficulty with charging a fee that we pointed out before with the violation of the profit motives of the head carnival barker. Basically saying the motivation ends when the money dries up. That could be a reason. We also suspect a bit of the bad third grade teacher approach when the entire class is punished because of the misbehaviors of lil Johnny.
But we have yet another contribution to the bettering of bigfootery we call; No Tour? No Problem. Having mobilized many of our crack staff to scour the net, dust off saved files, tap the minds of some of our informants and document the personal knowledge of the stringers, hangers-on and other malcontents of the BFE (after all two of us spent most of the week before Bridge Day last fall in the park meeting some people – which we will eventually get to once less pressing matters are addressed), including our fabulous clairvoyant’s feet which are often on that ground, we plan to produce a self guided tour that readers can print out and enjoy at their own leisure this weekend or sometime in the future. Best of all it is free, and worth every cent.
Once we started the virtual process of gathering together and gleaning through the information we were quite surprised at the volume of stuff we have to share. This will be a multi-day process, so check back for edits as we build the Bigfootery tour for Salt Fork State Park. We realize we are under some time constraints and we will do our best for you, our readers, to have a nice tour ready for you to print by Thursday night. We are going to take a balanced approach to the tour, we will give some attention to both sides of an event from a believer’s and a critical thinker’s viewpoint. If you are not open to alternative explanations, simply black out the line of thinking you do not wish to consider and proceed upon your way. Let’s begin.
We will start with a link to the pdf file for the state park. It will help those who have not visited and also build the general knowledge of those that believe they know the park. It should open in a new window, keep it handy for reference.
And now some disclaimers. We do not warrant this information. Do not read this information and drive. Do not drink, read this information and drive. There are locals that enjoy playing jokes on the “bigfoot researchers” and at least two suits that make it into that park at times, they can be a hazard. There are dangerous places in terms of cliffs, large rocks and deep ravines in the park. Obey warning and closure signs, approach breaks in the horizon line with caution. It is our opinion that these hazards grow exponentially in the dark, especially if you do not know where you are at. There are coyotes in the park and, at least in the late fall and into the winter, there was evidence of a cougar. All of the above can lead to injury up to and including the loss of life. Ultimately you are responsible for your own safety, use good sense and do not embarrass bigfootery by needing a heli-evac.
Now we can begin the free self guided tour, worth every cent and just as good as guidebooks that you might consider buying this weekend.
Stop 1 – Ranger Station
Our tour begins at the main entrance which is US 22 and ODNR 1. About 1/2 mile on the right side of the road you will see the Park Office. Pull in as this is where our first bigfoot story can be told. Proceed to the east side of the building and notice the corner window. Shortly after the official opening of the park there was an incident at this ranger station. The story goes that an employee working the radio at the station was tracking radio traffic from another ranger who was monitoring the movement of a bigfoot that had crossed the road northwest of the station and was heading into the flats area between the lake and the station. The ranger said it was heading in his direction. A few moments later he looked up to find a large face, what he said was a bigfoot, staring in the window at him. He instinctually struck at the face in the fight or flight mode, breaking the window and understandably getting some serious cuts. The current Superintendent will acknowledge he has heard this story and add that employee no longer works for them, with a chuckle.
Those that want to believe, or “know”, will look at this incident and some other reports from the same day and say this is amazing series of events. Proof positive that bigfoot at least in the early 1970′s roamed the park.
But one of our stringers did some more work on this particular story approaching it from a critical thinking mode. He suspects that the incident was a practical joke on a rookie ranger gone bad. The whole bit about telling the guy it is headed your way (planting a powerful seed) and then moments later something peering at him in the window is quite coincidental. BTW, if this is the case, half of the days bigfoot events are explained at that point.
Just some food for thought as you walk back to your car. But before you go, check out the osprey nest stand and pause to look out over the lake, you might just see the bald eagles fishing.
Much more tour to come.
And we are back with: STOP 2 – Marina
As you safely exit the ranger station you will want to go right on ODNR - 1 and look for the next road to the left leading to the marina. We are taking you to the marina as Salt Fork has a strong history of sightings by people fishing and boating, the marina is where some choose to tell their story while others choose to keep the experience to themselves. You can rent boats here, a bit pricey, but a way to explore the nooks and crannies of the lake if you do not own a boat yourself. We do not think they allow the boats to stay out very late after dark so you might not get the best time for bigfoot spotting. We suggest you bring along a boom box and play recordings of children playing and laughing, it might get them interested. Now is a good time for a bathroom break and maybe pick up some snacks for the rest of the tour. We have no critical thinking explanation for the fisherman’s tales, other than some fishermen are known to weave a tale and perhaps the suit wearers are comfortable messing with fishermen given the low chance they would be able to give chase.
Stop 3 – The Beach
This stop is optional, not much happens here but we have heard one impressive story, from two sources at that. The story involves a seasonal maintenance person during the summer of 2004. This young man was a first in worker and one of his assignments included policing up the beach area of trash with a special emphasis on bottles and cans. One morning he was out by the peninsula toward the end of the beach. Depending up lake levels, this sometimes becomes an island. That particular morning he happened upon some rather large footprints that led to the water’s edge where he could make out the prints, two smaller indentations about one foot into the water and two half circular looking troughs just short of the water. You have heard of the Skookum Cast, now you have read the story of the Salt Fork Butt Print. Return to your car but be careful not to step in the goose poop, it does not smell but it is slippery. If you forgot your snacks you have another chance before starting into less developed areas of the park.
Stop 4 – Campgrounds
Stay on ODNR 1 and look for the sign and next road to the left for the campgrounds. There is a little visitor’s parking lot on the left before you reach the control/camp store building. You can either head over to the store for snacks and bigfoot kitsch or simply stay in your car as this is a fast story. The story we are about to tell involves a rumor that the campground was closed once because of a flurry of furry bigfoot sightings. This eventually led to a feud between Joedy Cook and Keating, but they eventually patched things up in the interest of mutual exposure and making money. A reasonable chronicle of the event can be found at this link. The critical thinker part of us has to notice that it is another rumor about the park, they seem to take root and grow, thanks to a lot of BS fertilizer. Be careful of the BS fertilizer, it does stink and is very sticky, but onward and up as they say. Get back on ODNR 1 still heading roughly north.
Stop 5 – The Lodge
At the next left head toward the lodge. The lodge certainly has its’ share of bigfoot stories. They range from children out playing in the area, to people looking at the woods from the balconies to a rumor of a dumpster diving bigfoot. But one story that few know about comes from the contractors that built the lodge in the early 70′s. We have a stringer that knows someone who did a lot of early investigation in the park that predates all of the “bigfoot researchers” who have visited the park. He relates a story of tracking backwards and finding some of the people who worked for the GC and a sub who built the lodge. These workers did report some odd things, including a burn barrel that they used to use to get rid of lunch leftovers. Our first thought was coons, but they reported the barrel was often moved tens of feet from where they would leave it. Two of the workers also reported an actual sighting one evening on a Friday night when they stayed late and polished off some beer they had brought in a cooler, but perhaps that was the hops playing some tricks on them. If the driving tour has resulted in you wanting to stretch your legs we have another tip on a secluded meadow and beach down by the lake, it is a hike through rough terrain over hill and dale and not to be approached by the usual “Bigfoot Researcher” in tennis shoes. Actually, our stringer says he does not recommend it at all, but what the heck we are in a sharing mood. Go back out the drive at the lodge and head back to ODNR 1. On the right is the golf course, go park in the lot. Sneak into the woods to the south and west of the parking lot, head south and west and after less than one half mile you will find a nice meadow/cove/beach. Enjoy but remember the walk back is seriously uphill and you have more stops to make as we head into the sasquatch vortex of Salt Fork.
This may be all for now, virtual staff meeting and Sam Adams is a calling.
Back again in the hope of finishing up the tour guide. We now head into bigfoot grand central, a place where trail cameras abound and the anticipation of having a bigfoot encounter runs as strong as a five-year old waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Stop 6 – Picnic Area
Follow the lodge access road back to ODNR 1 and head left. At your next left is an access road to the picnic grounds, follow the road, bearing right all the way to the back, pull into the parking area before the turnaround loop. Look to your left and you will see a ditch beside the parking lot, there was a single, well formed track found there in late 2006 – Keating hyped it mightily at his conference toting a 8×10 glossy around with him. The print was after the event that led off the interest in this area,a person, we shall call him Mike, and his wife came forward with a sighting report in the late summer of 2004. Long story short they were eating at that picnic area, decided to take a hike afterwards (if you go to the back-end of the picnic area you will see an obvious path) and spotted something at the edge of the utility cut about 30′ or so into the tree line. The cut will be noticable, just look to the left as you face away from the picnic area, it was spotted at the base of the hill you are standing on. After watching they retreated and were screamed at. Now backtrack to the track find. Days after this event a “bigfoot researcher” lady claims a nighttime silhouette sighting in the same picnic area – bigfoot fever – that plays nicely into the Salt Fork bigfoot promotion machine. Also while in the same parking lot, if you head toward the turnaround loop you will see a path leading off to the right. This path is notable as it was the site selected for the MQ bigfoot mask lure gag that came up empty and an arch over the trail that is reportedly periodically pulled apart and put back together. That’s about it for this area, add in some odd recordings, sorry for the brevity boredom is setting in. Back to the car, back to ODNR 1, take a left, before you reach our next destination you will see the Horseman’s Camp, source of some of the noises and jokes that make “bigfoot researchers” go gaga.
Stop 7 – Handicapped Picnic Area
This picnic area gets it name from accessible paths and bathrooms (although that is pushing it). It is the next left after getting back on ODNR 1. If there is a ground zero for bigfoot research in the park this may be it. We suspect it is popular because of shelters, bathrooms and a pole light to make the researchers feel more secure. Reportedly, for the last three or so summers you practically needed a reservation to join the hordes “researching” this location. Some of the highlights include a catsup print (follow the path to the left), a bad smell and flying branch, a shelter which may or may not be made by jokers (follow the path to the right and into the woods), another print find, some more questionable recordings and a night sighting, although one person now goes on the record to say he has not seen a bigfoot ever. Another WTF situation. This place is a great spot to get caught up in the expectation of having and encounter and then misreading a common event to confirm your expectation. Back in the car before bigfoot fever grabs you.
Stop 8 – Hosack’s Cave
Take the access road back to ODNR 1 and take a left and proceed down the hill. Keep an eye out, this section has a few road crossing type sightings. Over the bridge and now look for the road to the left, the entrance to Hosack’s. This area has also had a few print finds, odd recordings (including a possible language tape) and some sightings. A radio personality who hosted an outdoor show once had a sighting here when things became so hot another researcher talked the rangers into controlling access to the area – much to some other researcher’s consternation.
Stop 9 – Bonus
You really cannot stop at the bonus point, just turn left coming out of Hosack’s and start-up the hill. Two winters ago there was a sighting part of the way up this hill before you exit the park. A first time “Bigfoot Researcher” visited the park and reports seeing a bigfoot standing on the right side of the road partially up the hill. This bigfoot is so obliging that it sticks around long enough for the car to go up the hill, turned around and come back down the hill, see the drives and get an estimate on how long it takes you to do the same thing. Amazing. This person reports almost continuous activity when she visits the park, she is either a bigfoot magnet or a bigfoot goofball. We tend to favor the latter and consider this a prime example of the hu ha that transpires in this park.
And that’s the end of your free tour. We hope you agree it was worth every penny.