A week after the tent was squished down upon us, I was talking to a new friend, Alex Hearn from the Arizona Cryptozoology Research Organization (AZCRO). I told him about the tent incident, the outhouse incident, and the hunter incident. He asked me if I had taken the time to look around the tent area for any footprints. My answer was “No.” He suggested we should form an investigative team and go back to search before any evidence was destroyed. I agreed.
The team consisted of Alex (AZCRO), Preston Smith (my grandson), Kyle Barentine (my next door neighbor), David Waite (my son), and me. We returned to the area to search for clues to identify the tent squishing culprit.
Our first clue was not so obvious. On the hillside below where the tent had stood we started finding an unusual amount of tree branches with leaves intact stripped from the trees. These limbs littered the forest floor. I had never seen this in all my years of hunting. We continued the search and soon noticed the deep impressions in the soft leaf covered ground. The seemed too big to be a human, but they were just impressions--Nothing more.
Our next unusual finding was a rain gauge. It had been mangled. The water collecting veins were twisted and bent. It looked like someone had wadded it up like a piece of paper. I remember thinking this had to be one massive hail storm to do this kind of damage. The rain gauge stood about 60 yards from where the tent had been pitched.
We eventually worked our way out of the dense foliage and made it to the road. We were returning to our vehicles when a Forest Service vehicle pulled up and stopped. The Ranger was curious as to what we were doing. We decided to come clean and told him about the tent and what we were investigating.
The Forest Ranger told us that this was strange because he had been finding scat he could not identify. He knew the animals in the area, but this was something different. It did not appear to be bears.
Meanwhile, Kyle had slipped out of the group and was busy looking at something behind a rock. When the Ranger departed, Kyle called us over. There it was—the biggest human looking footprint I had ever seen. Toes and all, it measured nineteen inches. It was only 30 feet from where the tent had stood.
I became a believer.