Campers claim they saw ‘Bigfoot’
By Robin Hutchings
The Valley Press
June 18, 2020

Heavy footsteps came pounding down the steep hillside about one second apart. Earlier there had been a stench in the air described as "dirty, heavy". The sound of breathing was loud and deep. Light from a passing car broke the night, silhouetting a creature estimated to be about 12 feet tall.
It wasn't a human and it wasn't a bear. The two men who were there said it was Sasquatch, also know as Big Foot, the will-o'-wisp creature who has tantalized people in California, Oregon and Washington for hundreds of years.
Dave Wilhelm 20, of Everett, Washington and Ben Lawson, 22, of Santa Cruz, said they met up with the he-she-thing Tuesday, June 9 at about 2 a.m. The Place was off Granite Creek Road east of Scotts Valley in a rural residential area.
"I had always passed off Big Foot stories," said Wilhelm "Now I'm totally positive that they aren't bears and they aren't human."
Locals say the pair's experience is unprecedented in the history of the Santa Cruz Mountains. But even if there have been no other sightings, Wilhelm and Lawson say they will always know that they met Sasquatch, and that the creature meant them no harm.
Sasquatch is an Indian name given to the elusive "wild man of the woods" with giant ape characteristics. Some consider the creatures to be mere legend; others believe they're real and as bright as a man. Most of the reported sightings have been in remote wilderness areas along the Pacific Northwest ranging into British Columbia.
The two described their night adventure to the Valley Press last Thursday, but with some reluctance. They had made pact that they would tell no one but their friend, Rocky Lapioli, and his father Harry, new owners of Curly’s Barber Ship in Bolder Creek. It was Rocky who convinced the two to share their story. “No way I was going to say anything, “ said Wilhelm. “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.”
Wilhelm and Lawson had been camping around Santa Cruz for the past 10 days, they said, to save money for a move to Los Angeles. They had come down from Washington, and were visiting Lawson’s friends and family in Santa Cruz before heading down south to look for jobs as chefs.
They said they spent several nights on New Brighton Beach and then spent a couple of nights at the site near Scotts Valley. “We were just trying to find a place that looked safe and out of the way,” said Wilhelm.
The site where they were camping is a relatively flat, grassy area about a third the size of a football field. On one side is Granite Creek Road; on the other is a steep hillside some 200 feet high covered with trees, dense brush, ferns and poison oak. There are several homes nearby, situated on three to five-acre lots.
Lawson said that when they arrived late Monday-“straight and sober”- he noticed a “garbage” stench in the air. “It was the kind that makes you kinda sick to your stomach”.
They threw their sleeping bags on the ground and then zipped them up. They later speculated that the zipping sound might have triggered their visitor to investigate.
A dog across the street started barking. “He was going mad,” Wilhelm said. Ben said the dog hadn’t barked at them when they arrived. Almost simultaneously, they heard the footsteps.
“They were very, very loud,” Wilhelm said. “It was like they were spread about 10 feet apart-about a second between them. It came down that mountain fast…really fast.”
“Both of us heard the footsteps up on the mountain, but neither of us said anything.”
“We knew it wasn’t human. It was too dark for a human to come down like that. It was too steep. It came down too fast and it had two feet,” Wilhelm said.
“We could hear the branches breaking underfoot”.
“Both of us were thinking ‘Sasquatch’ but didn’t want to say anything/” Lawson later joked.
The footsteps stopped about 20 feet away, in the bushes. “I was scared to death,” Wilhelm said, “but Ben didn’t sense any danger.”
“I knew he was watching us, but I didn’t sense any violence,” Lawson said.
The creature remained there about 10 minutes, all the while breathing heavily. “It was the loudest breathing I’ve ever heard. A sound like I’ve never heard before. I’ve never heard a sound like that before. I’ve never heard a sound like that before in my life,” Wilhelm said, shaking his head.
“It was a painful sounding breathing…real hard sucking in,” he added.
The creature also made a type of flapping noise, Wilhelm said, like a cow shaking its head.
But the smell was gone. Then he moved, following the woods towards the roadway- a point with full view of the men’s sleeping site, they said.
“Who’s out there?” Lawson said he yelled. There was silence. “Please just answer us”, he pleaded. Again, there was no answer.
“It sounded like he sat down, like he was getting situated,” said Wilhelm. The two had not yet seen the visitor, but soon had their chance.
A small foreign car wound its way up the road, and Wilhelm said he started anticipating seeing the creature.
As the car passed, its headlights outlined a figure about 12 feet tall, Lawson said, Wilhelm said he didn’t see it.
“That’s when I got scared,” Lawson said. The “Sasquatch” didn’t flinch from the light “We decide to take off. We got up on our knees and then he took off,” Wilhelm said.
“He ran up about 10 steps” (Wilhelm says he thinks he moved about 100 feet up.) All the while they could hear him breathing.
Wilhelm and Lawson said they ran to their car and headed back to New Brighton Beach at a good clip. “There was no way we were going to sleep there,” Lawson said.
“Then we both said it at the same time-‘Sasquatch’” he added.
The next morning Wilhelm and Lawson confided to the Lapioli’s.
“It was really funny. My father started chasing them around pretending he was Big Foot,” said Rocky. They also made a return trip to the area to look for evidence of the encounter.
“We found prints exactly where we knew he was,” said Wilhelm.
“Rocky had on hard boots and couldn’t make a print-but we found his,” Wilhelm said.
Going up the hill, the gouges were about six feet apart. At the areas where the creature stopped, the gouges are about three feet apart.
The Trio followed what they said was the visitor’s route about a quarter of the way up the hill. They said they found freshly broken sticks.
“We knew it was the truth,” Wilhelm said. “That’s what made it so freaky. I didn’t know anything about Sasquatch before,” he added, “but now I know he’s something I’ll never forget.”
A neighbor in the area, however said she doubted the story. “We have a lot of deer in the area-and coyotes. The coyotes are being driven down by something, probably logging,” she said.
There are also many large dogs in the area, she said. “If I’m not scared of earthquakes or volcanoes, I’m not going to worry about Big Foot.”
It is through footprints that the giant man-animal has become known. Tracks allegedly belonging to Big Foot are said to measure 16 inches in length, half a foot wide.
Tales of Big Foot, Sasquatch, Marukarar or O-mah have persisted in the Pacific Northwest even before the first pioneers arrived in the early 1800’s.
The first stories were told by Indians. Those of southwest British Columbia referred to the creature as the “wild man of the woods.”
In the Klamath Mountains of Northern California, he is called Oh-mah-ah. Northward in the Cascades, the ape-like giant is called Seeahtik.
The animal creature figures prominently in Indian legend and myth.
In the late 1950’s a flurry of sightings in Northern California prompted professional and quasi-professional investigations.
Photographs, countless eye witnesses and tracks have been offered as proof of the creature’s existence, but not enough to destroy the cynicism of most experts.
Nootka Indians’ ceremonial costumes and masks show the wild man as completely covered with hair and with a face very like an ape’s. The brow and chin line are sloped, and the nose is short and flat.
A book, Wilderness Hunter,” contains one of the most descriptive references to Big Foot. In 1892, a man named Bauman and his partner found tracks they described as bear-like. They awoke later to a “wild beast odor” and the next night were awakened by a “harsh, grating, long-drawn moan.” Later, Bauman found his partner dead, “the neck broken with four great fang marks in the throat.”
It is thought by Charles Edson, author of “My Travels with Bigfoot,” that the creature has a violent aversion to all manmade machinery, with noisy logging equipment topping his list of pet peeves. Edson maintains that the creature camouflages it’s body with bits of sap-encrusted moss, often found in the vicinity of reported sightings.

 

Follow-up article, two weeks later July 2, 2020


Although not a recent sighting, a Boulder Creek family says it, too, has seen Bigfoot in the Scotts Valley area.
Rhoda Wolters and her son Kerry, 16, said that in 1971 and 1972 a “Bigfoot” used to feed in the approximate 60-acre orchard adjacent to their home at 2911 Granite Creek Road in Scotts Valley.
The site is near the area where two men alleged they saw Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, several weeks ago while camping out.
At the time the Wolters lived in an old stagecoach house which has since been torn down. On night, in the summer, Mrs. Wolters recollected last week, Kerry and his sister saw the “thing” in the window. Kerry had gotten up to go to the bathroom, she said, and saw a shadow outside a window about seven feet about the ground.
“A minute later my sister screamed,” Kerry said. At the time Kerry was 8-years-old. His sister, Renee, was about 12.
“My husband said it was a bear,” Mrs. Wolters noted. “but it wasn’t.”
the next day, she said, she and the children found footprints about nine inches long, wider than a hand and with three toes.
The Wolters children, in an attempt to show the “footprints” traced the prints with their fingers, Mrs. Wolters said.
The recent siting in Scotts Valley result in no clear prints, but the two campers found indentations in the hillside at regular intervals where they thought the creature retreated into the woods.
After that incident, the Wolters said they found that their neighbors had also sighted something in the orchard. “they told us that they watched it in the orchard quite a few times,” she said.
At times, the family would hear crashing around in the woods and at night the nearby horses would “raise havoc”’ for no reason. “We knew there was something up there,” she said. The horses, she said, would “every once in a while go over the fences from fright.”
The neighbors also removed the back stairs of their house because “they didn’t want it coming in the house,” Mrs. Wolters said.
Although the campers’ recent sighting of the alleged Bigfoot was accompanied by what they described as a painful, loud breathing sound, the Wolters said they heard what sounded like a high-pitched whistle. “It didn’t grate on the nerves, but it scared the daylights out of us,” Mrs. Wolters noted.

 

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