Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 30th, 2011
In this guest blog today, a never-before-discussed possible Sasquatch encounter in Colorado is shared by a former USAF member.
Was It Bigfoot?
by Donald Gruber, EdD
Don Gruber in 1965.
It was Labor Day weekend, September 1966. It promised a few days away from the grind of Air Force technical training at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver. Seven of us decided to spend the long weekend camping at Rocky Mountain National Park. On Friday we checked out a huge tent and all the other camping gear we would need from the base recreation department. Immediately after the end of class that day, we piled into two cars and headed north with our gear. We arrived a RMNP, parked, unloaded the equipment, locked the cars, picked up the gear and began a 2.3 mile hike uphill to Cub Lake, elevation 8650 feet.
There are few places in the Colorado Rockies that are not spectacular. The scenery at Cub Lake was breathtaking. We set our camp at the eastern end of the lake with a grand view of Stones Peak climbing into the sky at the western end; its reflection shimmered in the late afternoon waters of the lake. With the tent set up, we gathered stones and built a round fire box about 24 inches high. We collected firewood and loaded the firebox with it preparing for the evening’s meal: T-bone steak. After dinner, the remnants of the meal went into the firebox. We sat around the flickering coals talking, telling lies and other war stories until it was time to turn in.
That first night passed peacefully. Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful. There is nothing like a Colorado morning. The air is crisp and pine scents the air. The quality of the morning mountain light is unexplainably compelling. That morning, the mist lifted from the lake revealing the majestic Stones Peak towering over the valley.
Setting about to prepare breakfast we notice that we had had company during the night. The firebox had been damaged and the steak bones and other food scraps were gone. The camp itself had suffered some minor rearrangement of the stools that had been left outside. Our supplies had been in the roomy tent with us and had remained untouched by the night’s visitor(s). Bear, we thought, but bears were not reported to be in the vicinity of Cub Lake in those days. We must have been hard asleep because none of us had heard a thing. Having schlepped our equipment, including the tent, the food, and a full industrial sized ice chest, up the side of a mountain for nearly two and half miles, we had been ready for a good night’s sleep. After all, we weren’t pioneers; just some young guys fresh out of high school, new to the military looking for a couple days being stupid before we were sent off to what ever the Air Force and destiny had in store for us.
We tidied up the camp, rebuilt the firebox, and prepared breakfast. It was great. No schedule to keep, no classes to march to, no sergeant screaming insults at us. Just us and the elements. The day was spent in exploring the vicinity of the lake and a little fishing. Rainbow trout were plentiful in the lake, so rainbow trout was the featured item on the menu that evening. And again, after the meal, the scraps went into the firebox.
About an hour after dark, we all turned in. We laid there in the dark talking, telling jokes and listening to the night noises. Eventually, each of us disengaged from the conversation and gradually began to drift off. At some point just before Morpheus embraced us, a rustling noise roused us to consciousness. The sound seemed to be coming from the trail that ran near the tent. “Might be a fellow hiker,” someone suggested. It did sound like someone shuffling up the trail toward the camp. “Maybe it’s the same guy who paid us a visit last night,” suggested another. We were now awake and communicating in whispers.
As we listened, the shuffling moved from the trail around the back of the tent and along side between the tent and the woods, where it stopped. We went silent and listened. Whoever it was, was right outside the tent just standing there. The one nearest that side of the tent lifted up the bottom edge to take a look. “It’s not bear,” he whispered. As he dropped the tent back down, who/what ever it was kicked the side of the tent hitting our reporter in the hand. He then announced as quietly as he thought appropriate that the fellow must have been wearing boots because the foot was so hard. Well then, if the visitor was wearing boots, he was definitely walking upright. Definitely a person.
A few moments later, the shuffling moved toward the front of the tent. We decided that who ever it was in our camp should have announced himself by now if he had indeed been a fellow hiker arriving late. Therefore, he was up to no good. As we heard rocks tumbling from the firebox and other items in the camp being rearranged, we determined that it was time to teach this vandal a lesson. We each grabbed a “weapon” with which to confront this trespasser. The fellow nearest the tent flap began slowly and as quietly as possible to unzip the long fastener holding the flap shut when someone else suddenly announced that he needed a drink. He then opened the ice chest and unceremoniously began to noisily rattle around in the ice and canned drinks inside. The sound of rummaging through the old metal ice chest was apparently enough to alert the visitor because at that we heard the sound of something large crashing through the trees as the visitor exited the area. Amid the chaos of “stop!!!’ and “be quiet!!!” the zipper shot up and, throwing all caution to the wind, we poured out of the tent into the moonlit night, each with his weapon raised, and scattered in seven different directions at once, each of us screeching an indecipherable war hoop.
Running into the night and encountering nothing to receive our welcoming committee, I reasoned that if the intruder had come up the trail, that he would probably retreat back down the trail at the sound of the rattling ice chest and the noisy zipper. Ignoring the evidence that he had apparently gone through the trees, I bolted down the trail with a camping hatchet held high like my Lakota ancestors on the warpath, but not really knowing what I would do if I did catch up to the intruder.
As the trail disappeared into the forest, the moon glow vanished and the dark prevailed, common sense began to prevail. I have always been a little bit psychic and I remember getting an uncomfortable vibe as the dim light faded to black and the trail disappeared among the trees ahead. I stopped and pivoted as quickly as I could and retreated to the safety of the camp, hoping that who or whatever I had been chasing had not suddenly decided to reverse course and come after me.
In a few seconds I was thankfully back in the camp. Apparently everyone else had similar experiences and returned to the starting point as soon as reason prevailed. Stumbling back to camp we discovered the firebox kicked in and our camp furniture thrown about. We noted, too, that all of the food scraps in the firebox were gone. All of it had been done in the few seconds we had been deciding what to do and fumbling with the ice chest and the zipper on the tent. Scared? No. We were too young to be scared. We reckoned that who ever it was that had visited us in the night had learned his lesson and would not return that evening. We turned in and fell fast asleep.
Saturday night passed into Sunday morning. The dawn was again spectacular. The day passed quietly and it was decided that we would bury our scraps some distance away from the camp in an attempt to delimit possible visitations and damage. Either the visitor had indeed learned a lesson or that the scraps were removed from easy access, in either event there was no visitor to the camp that last night at the lake. Monday dawned and after breakfast we reluctantly took down the camp, packed up the gear, and hiked back down the mountain. The next day the real world would start up again.
What or who was it that visited us those two nights at Cub Lake? Why would a person take food scraps? If he had been hungry from his hike, he could have simply asked for and received sustenance. Bears were not reported to have been in the area. Could it have been and elk? Elk are prevalent in the area. But, as a matter of course, elk don’t walk on their hind legs. What other creature walks upright and forages on leavings? We found no tracks because the ground was hard and dry, so ID from tracks was impossible. There was that crashing sound of something huge moving through the trees quickly. Could it have been Bigfoot? Your guess is as good as mine.
Dr. Gruber today.
What do Cryptomundians think Don Gruber encountered?
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.