Alan and I arrived in Salt Fork State Park late Thursday evening around 10pm. We made our way to the Lodge and checked into our room. Getting all of our gear into our room actually took about three trips as we didn’t think to grab one of those nifty wheeled things that look like a skate board with roll bars to move your luggage to your room. With a busy next few days ahead of us, we caught our breath, ate some cookies and unpacked some gear and went to bed. The next morning we were awakened by a text from Marc DeWerth asking us to join him and a few other people for breakfast in the lodge restaurant. After sharing a relaxed breakfast with some good company, we all headed back to our rooms to prep for the advanced hike that would be starting in just a couple hours.
Back at the room I finished filling up my camel-back with water, filled another liter container with a water/Gatorade mix and grabbed a few trail mix bars and threw them into my backpack. I had already prepared the rest, having a small first aid kit, a rain jacket, towel, flash light, and casting material-hey, you never know! Alan finished packing his backpack, double checked the charge on his shoulder camera, the large main dv cam, and the small hand held I would carry throughout the day. I grabbed my hat, and we headed out to the parking lot to meet everyone else.
Out in the parking lot somewhere near 50 people were waiting to get going. After a brief overview of what to expect and some introductions, we headed out in a caravan to the location. Alan and I had space and took up the chance to share the ride with a couple friends we had met the previous year at the Bigfoot adventure Weekend we had co-hosted with Sharon Lee, The Bigfoot Field Reporter.
The drive out was fun, as you got the feeling that a lot of the regulars living in Cambridge and surrounding farmland had not seen such a sight. A ten plus car caravan driving through a small town, and rural areas seemed to provide some excitement. As we passed a road crew, they all stopped and stared mouth agape as we drove by. I am sure this made for some interesting conversation at the bar that night. We arrived at our location and began to gear up for the hike.
The day turned out to be a near perfect day for hiking. A cool temperature, minimal to no sun and it did not rain while we were out. As we headed out Alan quickly moved up front to make sure to get some video from there, and I brought up the rear. The group became strung out a little after an initial easy flat start just inside the wood line. After the flat part which was now filled with the aroma of wild onion that hikers had stepped on and broken open, you are met with a decent uphill climb. The area is an old strip mine that has become covered in young forest growth, so the biggest concern resulting from an overnight rain was slipping back down the hill, and having it on video.
The initial hill really gets the blood pumping as several hikers quickly found out what was meant by an “advanced” hike. Feeling a slight burn in my legs and searching for wind, I pushed on. After getting to the top of the hill, the land flattened out some, and you could begin to see a massive rock cliff of to our right. At one point during the hike in, a couple of the Conference speakers who were on the hike with us stopped to investigate a tree which had been bent over the trail. It is a pretty cool experience to watch veterans of the Bigfoot world including Mark Maisel of the BFRO and Dr. Esteban Sarmiento observing and discussing the tree. In case you are wondering the conclusion reached is that it was a natural cause of a tree coming down on top of another.
As the hike progressed DeWerth, who himself had a sighting in this area would stop to share and point out things to keep your eye open for while out in the woods. The hike culminated with a slight downhill walk that opened up on the edge of what amounted to a beautiful small lake. This is part of Bigfooting that some may miss. I love to be out in the woods, feeling the breeze across my skin, listening to the sounds, and seeing. You cannot just look. The more time you spend in the woods, the more you will be able to see. There is a quote I really like that really puts it all together. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” This is from Marcel Proust and truly captures the feeling that comes when you have spent time in the woods.
As we headed back DeWerth stopped with a group and let out a good whoop. With some encouragement, a couple of the kids who (I envy the bottomless energy!) hiked with us let out some good whoops as well. It is great to see their smiles and energy out here. With that we headed back out, and made our way back to the lodge. This is the second post in a series covering the 2013 Ohio Bigfoot Conference. The first is here.