ChiSquatch: Chicago Sasquatch Report #2

This is a series by researcher Karl Sup researching Sasquatch evidence in the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. (Link to #1 installment)

Chicago Sasquatch #2
Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois (Cities Withheld)
October 2016

Fall in Illinois brought back many memories from my childhood. Piles of leaves always provided an ideal place to play hide and seek, or jumping into from a neighboring tree limb. This year, fall was a little warmer than I expected and some plants were still blooming even with the nights were getting much cooler. I had finally carved out some time to begin my exploration of the Forest Preserves. I determined that these forest preserve investigations would limit my direct interaction to gifting apples, and not use the typical techniques of vocalizations or knocking. My intent in all of these areas was only to observe and limit interaction.

My first location of interest was the Busse (pronounced BUSS-ee) Woods, also known as the Ned Brown Preserve. The entire preserves encompasses 3,558 acres that also boasts a 457-acre lake as well. These attractions draw over a million visitors each year to this Preserve. With all of that annual foot traffic, I didn’t hold out much hope for discovering activity there.

The lakes in the preserve were created in 1978 by damming the Salt Creek, and it provides over 20 miles of shoreline in total. The southern lake has a boat ramp for canoes, kayaks, rowboats and sailboats as well as recreational shore fishing access. The portion of the lake north of Higgins Road (IL-72) reaches into the wildlife refuge where no fishing is allowed. On the east side of the preserve, near the intersection of Arlington Heights and Higgins Roads, a small herd of elk inhabit a 17-acre enclosed pasture. The Forest Preserve District started the herd in 1925, relocating them from Yellowstone. Seeing these docile elk up close was a real treat. In the wilds of Arizona, elk typically head quickly in the opposite direction of our groups when we encounter them.

In the northern portion of the preserve is the 489-acre Busse Forest Nature Preserve. It boasts an unusual combination of flatwoods, upland forests, and marshes that have earned it National Natural Landmark status. The nature preserve is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas in the Cook County Forest Preserve District. Flatwoods, slightly depressed areas with poorly draining soils, are a unique feature of this region. They support red maple, swamp white oak and black ash, as well as sensitive fern, hop sedge and blue flag iris. Busse’s upland forest is an ancient remnant, full of tall red oaks and hickories, maple, ash, basswood, elm and very large ironwoods. Many of the trees here date back well before European settlement of the area. The trees shelter wildflowers such as bloodroot, great white trillium and woodland phlox. In spring and fall, birders can spot attractive migrants such as black-throated blue warblers. The dense aquatic vegetation of Busse’s marshes supports shorebirds, mink and muskrat. On the northern boundary is Interstate 90, with Interstate 290 and Woodfield Mall bracketing the western side. The entire preserve is bisected by Higgins Road (IL-72), however there are bypasses that cross under Higgins as well as the Salt Creek/Busse Lake amalgamation. The Salt Creek also runs under Interstate 90 to the north. To the south, the trails in the Ned Brown Preserve connect with the Salt Creek Greenway trail that runs for miles south.

The last Ice Age in this area came to an end about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, and the landscape features of northeastern Illinois and the Salt Creek Valley emerged from the melt waters. Early Native American dwellers used the creek as a transportation route. I have no doubt, based on BFRO reports, that it is still being used as a transportation route today! The creek was later discovered by fur traders and voyagers when the area was still a wilderness. Originally known as The Little DesPlaines, the name change occurred in 1834 when John Reid was hauling supplies between Galena and Chicago. His wagon got stuck mid-way in the creek while crossing. As his barrels of salt capsized into the water, the salt dissolved into briny foam. Ever after, the stream became known as Salt Creek.

Today, the 30 mile length of Salt Creek is noted for its diverse recreational land and water trails, scenic beauty, historic sites, natural areas, wildlife and open space. The headwaters to Salt Creek originate north of the Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Schaumburg. Salt Creek reaches its confluence with the DesPlaines River in the Brookfield/Riverside area. It is a truly remarkable waterway connecting Cook and DuPage counties, municipalities, park districts, forest preserves, historical sites and tourism destinations along its watercourse and uplands. Scenic views, flowing waters and lush greenery can be seen from bridges and roadways, revealing a more leisurely pace and time in the midst of suburban hustle and development.

I focused on the lakes and trails to the south. The area was well developed and had a tremendous amount of human activity. There were many grassy, open areas and picnic ramadas. Hiking through the trails revealed no unusual structures or evidence that would indicate a presence of Sasquatch. I was disheartened, but after an hour of hiking I decided to refocus my efforts to the north side of Higgins Road. I first stopped in to visit the elk in their fenced 17 acres. The elk were not out in the meadows, but had settled down to relax for the afternoon in the plentiful shade of the mighty deciduous oaks and maples.

I hiked short distances off the paved, jogging and biking trails onto game trails that bisected the maintained asphalt. Once again, I was disappointed to only find natural tree falls. I did find snakes, squirrels, birds and toads. I could not see any deer tracks in the forest litter along the game trails. I headed west down Higgins to the central, developed trailheads of the north woods. It didn’t take very long before I came across a group of joggers wearing participant numbers that passed me. Bikers wheeled by about every five minutes. I left the pavement and took the first game trail I found that was bisecting the path.

I walked about 100 feet off the main trail before I came across an unusual feature. 

Two tree breaks were pointing in the same direction. As with previous tree breaks I’ve encountered, I follow the direction they are pointing. Typically this will lead to another unusual, anomalous feature in the woods, and today I was not disappointed. 

Seventy-five feet to the east, was a stick structure. One tree had been bent and broken across a branch split of a small maple tree. The other small tree trunk had been placed across the bent tree, and I could not find the location or stump from where the second trunk had been collected. 

Could humans have made this? Quite possibly, however in combination with the other two tree breaks and the effort and strength required to break a green, twenty-foot sapling it would seem unlikely. Why would a Sasquatch make this kind of structure? That is a good question that one day I hope to ask them.

The game trail ahead required far more bushwhacking then I wanted to tackle, so I headed back out to the main, paved trail. After another quarter mile, the woods made way to an open prairie grassland and meadow. An access road and parking lot occupied the center of the area and on the far side were covered picnic ramadas. I made my way to the ramada and found a fairly clean picnic table to stretch out on and rest. There was a light breeze and the temperature was perfect. I closed my eyes and let the cool air flow over me. My respite didn’t last long as I could hear a bicyclist pedaling up to the area. He had seen me hiking earlier and passed me on the paved trails, and must have decided that I had a good idea!

I sat up and introduced myself. His name was Ray, and he was in his early 70’s. He was surprised to find out that I was visiting from Arizona, but had originally grown up in nearby Elmhurst. Ray said that he had been biking in the Busse Woods since the late 70’s. So I asked him about any changes over the past years. He indicated that 10 years ago, you couldn’t bike ride through there without seeing a couple dozen deer at least. Sometimes he would have to swerve to miss hitting them! He said over the past 10 years that number has dwindled until now, he might only see two or three per week. I asked him if he had any idea what caused it, and he didn’t have a clue. He said that other areas with more human population are over-populated with deer. I suspect I know why the deer population here is dwindling or hiding.

After a pleasant conversation about the many changes that have occurred in Chicagoland since I left in 1972, Ray donned his helmet again and headed out on the paved trails again. I took a different route. I walked across the meadow to a hand pump for drinking water. I have come to discover that every Forest Preserve has one or more wells with hand pumps available to the public. Most of them were near the edge of the woods, so I examined the pump and reasoned that Sasquatch could easily pump drinking water in the middle of the night.

From the pump, there was an undeveloped nature trail that took a sweep toward the upper lake and headwaters of Salt Creek. The trail was no more than the width of a game trail, and was overgrown in areas. I came to a split that turned north toward the lake area. I didn’t get very far before the ground became pretty soggy with the surrounding area hosting a marshy swamp-like environment. I kept to the grass and vegetation on the edges of the trail until I estimated I could go no further without adequate muck-ware. A short distance ahead I noticed what looked like a few prints so I pressed on.

There were two prints, one was the same size as my 14D shoe but narrower, while the other print was on a drier rise but was 1.5 times the width of my shoe and about 4.5 inches longer; estimated around 16 inches by 5.5 inches. The vegetation had been firmly pressed into both prints, and both prints exhibited some about of slide. I searched twenty feet in all directions, but could not find any other tracks. The depth on the smaller print was deeper than my 6’5” frame could press into the ground. I estimated that these prints were no more than 36 hours old.

Now that I had muddy shoes, I doubled back to the split in the trail which headed west then turned south. In between swatting mosquitoes and biting flies, I tried to scrape the caked and sticky mud from my shoes. I spotted another snake sunning itself on the trail, as well as a toad that was lying perfectly still to avoid detection. Based on the overgrowth on this trail, it is a relatively unused asset in the Busse Woods.

I hiked about another 300 feet to discover that a small tree had been broken and set across the trail, blocking it. The twist was a much older break, and pointed toward the upper lake area. Close examination showed no mechanical or tool use to cause the break. 

There was no other tree breaks in the vicinity, and no large dead falls in the area. I have seen these often across trails to discourage use, including a 4-foot diameter old growth Ponderosa in Arizona that fell uphill on a 20% grade to block a road. It’s a pretty effective deterrent. The mosquitoes alone were enough to discourage me, but I pressed on.

The trail was really overgrown through this area (as you can see the photographs, the trail crosses under the tree break). Passing clouds provided intermittent sunlight and this desert dweller was appreciative of those rays breaking through.

Another 500 feet and an ounce of blood less in my circulatory system, I found two more tree breaks that crossed the trail. The first was directly across the trail, and pointed in the same direction as the last break toward the northern pond. One hundred feet later, the second set of breaks was a ‘three-fer’. A triplet of trees had been broken across the trail, and you had to duck under them or forge your own trail through the undergrowth to traverse it. Oddly enough, they all pointed to the north-northwest toward the northern pond again. These could have been wind damage, but there were numerous other trees of similar diameter in the vicinity that did not exhibit any damage. Only the trees near the trail were broken.

I quickened my pace to get out of the woods as a literal swarm of mosquitoes descended on me. I guess the word had gotten out that their meal ticket was an easy target and had forgotten to get some Deep Woods Off! 

Even in my hurry, I still spotted a snake relaxing on a makeshift hammock in plant leaves, and some chicory and blue bell wildflowers. 

The woods finally started to thin until I reached the meadow, sunshine and relief from mosquitoes. I drove to the west side of the upper lake to the fishing wall at that location. There were no trails leading into the wildlife preserve around the northern ponds. 

To get to the fishing wall, I had to navigate a thick gaggle of Canadian geese that had taken up temporary residence in the grassy area. 

Once I was on the fishing wall, I observed quite a large number of leopard frogs hiding in the duckweed. The north lake was far different from the southern chain of lakes. Cattails, reeds and other dense vegetation formed the lake’s boundary, making the shoreline inaccessible. Based on the tree breaks, food sources and over 1000 acres of isolation, I believe that Sasquatch are inhabiting, or take some level of transient residence in the northern area of the preserve. On to the next research area!

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 New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Georgia 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 had been studying and discovered the presence of infrasound within those recordings.