Expert Sasquatch Witness Report #5

Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia, 2012-12-19 10:25PM (Sunset 5:33PM) 42F Dewpoint 40F

I was fortunate to be sent to Atlanta, Georgia not once but twice in a couple of years on business. I attended a conference in late September 2010, so I prepared to get out of there after 10 p.m. and into the woods. I reviewed all of the sightings on the BFRO website, narrowed down the research area to a handful, and contacted the lead Georgia BFRO investigator. He was extremely helpful and informed me that all three reported areas I had chosen were good; however, the one nearest a cemetery was currently off limits. And, another group was conducting long term research in a sensitive sighting area, and I respected that. So the decision was made easy and I focused on reports in and around the Red Top Mountain State Park area.

This scenic, popular park on Lake Allatoona is ideal for swimming, water skiing and fishing. Visitors can bring their own boats or rent them from nearby marinas. A sand swimming beach is nestled in a cove and surrounded by trees, providing a great place to cool off during summer. Picnic and group shelters can be rented for the day and cottages can be booked for overnight stays.

While Red Top Mountain is best known for the 12,000-acre lake, it is also a hiker’s haven. More than 15 miles of trails wind through the forested park, providing opportunities for exercise and nature photography. The gravel-topped 4-mile Iron Hill Trail is open to both hikers and bikers, offering pretty views of the lake’s shoreline. Named for the soil’s rich red color caused by high iron-ore content, Red Top Mountain was once an important mining area. Most of the north side of the lake remains protected from land development because of its isolated location.

The area had had three sightings in the past ten years, including an Interstate 75 night crossing traveling west to east in the direction of the reservoir just south of Emerson. On Wednesday night, I headed to my room, packed up my thermal, night vision, audio recorders and left downtown Atlanta north on I-75. I had identified an area with potential away from the fixed buildings and campgrounds. Mid-week found the park quite empty and ideal for an investigation. I parked the car along the road, and hiked down the gravel road. 

It wasn’t long before a large heat signature appeared in thermal just down over a small hill. My heart was pounding as it moved from right to left. As I crept closer, the object raised its head and it was two white-tailed deer. The buck abruptly snorted at me and bounded off into the night, while the doe quickly trotted behind. I continued down the road 1000 feet, and found the same two deer grazing in the field. I spent two disappointing hours in the area hiking on that moonless night without any interaction other than two angry deer.

Fast forward to the week of December 17, 2012 and I found myself in Atlanta teaching a software development methodology class for fellow associates on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Prior to the trip, I had been talking with a co-worker about my passionate hobby, and he and his son were anxious to get out into the woods with me. 

After the classes were finished on Wednesday late afternoon, I drove up toward Kennesaw and met him and his family at his home. The entire family was fans of the show "Finding Bigfoot," but only my friend and his oldest son were anxious to get into the woods with me. After heading out to a restaurant, where his daughter worked, for a nice steak dinner and conversation, we got on the winding roads past the Kennesaw Mountain Civil War Battlefield site and drove up to Red Top Mountain. Late December found the park devoid of any campers or visitors at 10 p.m., which was just what I had been hoping. We drove to the same area I had investigated in 2010 and parked their Jeep Grand Cherokee.

My friend had brought along two, two-foot long 2x4 scraps to emulate tree knocks. I had my FLIR HS-324 Command thermal imaging camera and my night vision scope. We walked deliberately down the gravel road while we kept an eye on the tree lines. We kept very quiet and simply walked in without making any calls or knocks. By the time we reached the end of the roadway, we had not seen, nor heard, anything. I spotted a slight rise ahead of us, and thought it might give us a better vantage point to view the area. I whispered to them to move uphill. I booted the thermal back up and started surveying the tree line below. To the west, the hillside gradually descended to drainage that led to the lake. The level of the lake was drastically low at the time. To the east was a meadow of tall dried grass that swished in the very light breeze on that chilly night. Trees illuminated warmly in the 42 degree temperatures. The tops of the tree trunks were visible above the vegetation and bushes lower to the ground. About three minutes into scanning the vicinity, I noticed that one tree approximately 150 feet from us, had a significantly warmer heat signature at the base that was visible through the brush. I passed the thermal unit to the father and son to get their opinion on the anomaly. When I got the thermal back, I stared at the heat blob and saw it move about five feet to the north. Then it moved back. Then it moved to the south about the same distance. Then back again.

By now, we were all excited and cautiously optimistic. I whispered to them that I was going to do a soft whoop, to see if the object responded. I set the thermal unit to record and let out a little whoop. The moment the sound left my lips, the heat anomaly moved back and forth in a rocking motion then started to rise and stood up. The top of its head was just barely visible above the brush. Just then, an arm reached up into the large V of the tree, grabbed securely in the notch and, in one smooth motion, pulled itself up and began looking around. As the arm reached up, the delineation of finger was clear through the viewfinder. Later review of the footage recorded onto the SD card showed compression loss and the detail of the fingers was lost. At a distance of 150 feet, it could not see us quietly standing in the open on the rise above. Its head initially looked north, rotated to stare right at us then turned to the north. Finally, the head rotated back to the south and stayed staring intently in that position. I whispered to the son and my friend what I saw and told them to look. The son looked first. He saw that the tree was hotter than the others, but it had not moved a muscle. He was unconvinced. I told him to keep watching.

I clapped the two 2x4’s together. Immediately, the subject turned its head and stared directly in our direction. The kid whispered ‘Oh my God! Wow!’ His dad asked for the thermal, but by the time he found which tree it was again, the subject had dropped from the tree. I estimate it had held itself up in that tree with one arm for four minutes total, without wavering. I had my friend and his son move down the hill toward the area, while I stayed up on the hill with the thermal. For a brief moment, I saw movement heading south from the tree through the brush. But then, nothing was visible anymore. There were no responses to further knocks or whoops. 

Before the night was done, I let out a single, long ‘Ohio’ howl to the delight of my guests. The night remained silent and still. We hiked back out to the car, and spent the ride back to their house discussing the events of the evening and marveling at the strength it must have possessed to pull itself up into the tree for a better view. The duration of its feat impressed me. 

I bid them farewell and headed back to my hotel for the night. I had a noon flight to catch back to Phoenix, so I woke up very early and headed back to Red Top Mountain for some quick analysis at the site. There were many more cars on the road through the park, but not many stopping in the park boundaries. I hiked in to the top of our hill and spotted the tree below. We had been elevated about 30 feet above, and 150 feet in distance. I had to bushwhack through the area to get to the tree.

The tree was a Black Walnut tree with its distinguishable V limb split on the trunk. Since I had only packed a cloth tape measure, it was not possible to measure the tree vertically. I knew that the standing reach of my 6’5” frame was 8’2”. The notch in the trunk was approximately 11’ from the ground. To my best estimation, the Sasquatch had been eating walnuts on the ground in a crouched position. Walnuts were cracked all over the place. I tried to replicate the stance, and could barely see the viewing hill through the brush. When I stood up, I could not see the hill above while standing there. I measured the trunk size, and found it approximately 3’ in diameter. From the thermal image, the Sasquatch was slightly wider than the trunk. There was a slight disturbance to the bark on the trunk on the side facing the hill, about 2’ off the ground. There were no visible prints otherwise on the ground. 

Lessons learned from this encounter: data and image quality severely degrades when it is compressed and stored to the internal SD card on the HS-324 unit. The workaround to remedy the situation will be to deploy a separate DVR unit, and use the HS-324’s hot shoe RCA outputs to deliver raw streaming video data.

Karl Sup is a software architect, developer and analyst, and an avid Bigfoot researcher working in the mountains of Arizona for many years. During this research and in other states including Maryland and Wisconsin, he has been fortunate enough to interact with and view multiple subjects over the years. Karl also has had decades of audio analysis and editing experience, and assisted in helping M.K. Davis clean up and enhance audio from VHS tapes he has been studying and discovered the presence of infrasound within those recordings.