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A Solo Remote Bivouac: Fine Tuning Research Protocol,  And Thoughts Regarding the Specie

by

Steve Moon 


The Woods at Night: acrylic painting by Steve Moon, 2022.


Soloing at Seventy: Punch in, Set up Camp, and Hunker Down

I’ve been investigating Relict Hominids in eastern Iowa for fifteen years. During those fifteen years my primary research protocol has been to solo camp in the woods, along eastern Iowa’s many rivers and major streams, in promising locations deep within dense greenbelts. At seventy years of age, and with two brand new chrome-moly knees, I have counterintuitively begun doing a lot of ultralight backpacking into remote locations that tend to be off the beaten path; into previously untested locales.


My research has evolved from conducting broad aerial surveys using inexpensive audio recorders to test for the presence of Sasquatch, to intensive long-term small-area surveys of a few active locations using ultrasensitive audio recorders that are capable of capturing very subtle indications of Sasquatch behavior. Whereas I used to famously dash into a location to snatch an audio recorder from an area that was quickly becoming flooded, I am now more likely to take advantage of ideal weather and meteorological conditions, and look for good overnight parking that affords reasonably close proximity to a study population, and hike in for the night.  


Iowa’s river greenbelts are primarily composed of very dense, mature hardwood forests, spanning very wide, flat, ten thousand year old flood plains dotted with oxbow lakes and a variety of other water features. These provide ideal habitat for Sasquatch, whom I suspect have inhabited them for centuries if not millennia. It’s not uncommon to run across 19th and early 20th century farm and cabin sites, betrayed by stone or concrete foundations or the occasional apple tree. River bottoms were the first areas occupied by settlers in the early 19th century, in the 1840s. By around 1860, homesteaders were building Greek revival style balloon frame, two-story, two over two farm houses on the many major tributaries of the Mississippi River. 


I speculate that Sasquatch coexisted with humans during the settlement period. We don’t know how many Sasquatch generations back that might be, but because of the enormous proportions the specie is known to attain, good longevity has been predicted by many. If it is so, maybe three or four generations, with a three generation spread occurring in the general population at any one time. (Alert! I am speculating!) I also consider it entirely feasible that there would have been a Sasquatch presence in prehistory, prior to European settlement, perhaps in cohabitation with Native populations that were here in the Central Lowlands. I consider the prehistoric presence of Sasquatch in the Central Lowlands a possibility because of the robust Sasquatch populations that I have observed here in eastern and central Iowa. I believe that such a high population density could only be possible after many hundreds of years of successful habitation in the region.


Good Enough Say Ye, but Why Solo?

Soloing enhances my ability to concentrate; on the physical environment, current weather conditions, and the habits of resident Sasquatch populations that I encounter. After hundreds of research forays into the landscape, my depth of understanding of the Sasquatch specie has increased, and my proclivity for theorizing about their existence has become more pronounced. I’m obsessed with Sasquatch, and want to experience all that I can of the local and regional manifestations of this astonishing creature. I conduct direct observational and experimental research, in multiple locations in the Upper Midwest. I discover new populations a few times each year, and this success rate is one of the reasons why I think there are a lot of Sasquatch in North America. I estimate the current Sasquatch population in North America to be at least two million individuals, and that may be conservative. 


When I’m not investigating in a county park, state park, state forest, or on private land, camping options can be difficult to find in Iowa, particularly in prime research areas. Most of the publicly accessible lands in Iowa are designated “public use” which typically means that game hunting is allowed. Hunters and hunting seasons have never been a hindrance to my research, because besides public use areas, I conduct research in areas like geologic preserves, state forests and state parks where no hunting is allowed. So there are plenty of options available to me at any given time. River accesses are very common all over eastern Iowa, and almost all of these allow overnight camping, and tend to be productive research locations. I have been known to solo camp directly on “level B” unimproved public roads, which function as field accesses for farmers. Because they are minimally maintained, if at all, these roads can be very sketchy to navigate without a truck or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Level B roads are found everywhere in eastern Iowa, and can provide access to very productive research locations. Iowa doesn’t have a significant bear population, and I’ve never been hassled by a mountain lion, so I don’t carry a firearm and never have.


My Protocol When I Remote Camp: Punching In and Deploying Audio

The remote location chosen for the investigation described below.


No matter how familiar I am with a location, I always study satellite imagery of the general area using Google Earth. In so doing, I discover water features, topographic trends, and two-track lanes that I was previously unaware of. At this stage I determine where I might park my vehicle, where to enter the woods, and possible routes to take through the woods. After consulting The Weather Underground to find wind data, I look for a location where a breeze might be available, or conversely, where higher winds might be less of a problem. 


Visibility is important, but this can be hard to determine without being on site. It’s only after I arrive on site that I can navigate to an area where I have good visibility. Visibility in this case relates to both visual sighting, and the audible environment. If I can see great distances I will be able to record distant sounds. When I arrive at my driving destination I park, and waste no time “punching in” to my area of interest. I generally arrive late in the day, and need adequate time to find a campsite in unknown terrain.    


I record audio from the time I leave my vehicle, using a recording system mounted on my backpack. As soon as I’m on site I deploy a second recorder as quickly as possible. The walkabout recorder is then redeployed in a second location, for redundancy, and to listen to the surrounding soundscape from a different perspective. Even with highly sensitive audio recorders, two identical recorders sitting fifty or a hundred feet away from each other will record quite different soundscapes. If two recorders are deployed together and oriented N-S and E-W, it’s possible to establish directionality of calls and knocks in the soundscape much more accurately than with a single (left channel, right channel) stereo recording. If there are Sasquatch surrounding your campsite, as in the example below, their relationship to each other, and relative positioning in the surrounding landscape can be better understood. 


A single channel recording is capable of indicating the presence or absence of Sasquatch, and relating unfolding events. No matter the recording technique, put on a pair of headphones and it’s like being there. The act of “listening well” takes practice and evolves, growing with your overall research technique and skills. To listen well is to understand the subtleties of the behavior being observed. 


My current approach is to set two recorders up “looking the same direction”, typically south, for the sake of continuity and familiarity with the immediate soundscape and landscape when analyzing sound files. Places, farming equipment, and farm and wild animal sounds, all become very familiar in a hurry. When something doesn’t sound familiar, it stands out like a sore thumb. Each of my recorders will run from twelve to twenty hours during an overnight investigation. The walkabout recorder will record until I return to my vehicle. 


I never fail to begin each recording with the time of day, day and date including year, place, reason for my interest in the area, weather information, who is with me, and anything else of relevance, including any previous activity in the area. I make sure to indicate which channel is which, so that my directionality is known and correctable. I do this immediately, so that I don’t have to wait when analyzing a new file or searching for an old one. This data is critically important. I used to not do this, and when I don’t have this contextual data, I consider the recording to be pretty much useless. “Where did I record this? Who was with me? When was this?” Ugh!


Setting up Camp and Hanging a Candle Lantern

The Gossamer Gear One has a small footprint that allows it to be pitched just about anywhere.


I pitch my tent immediately upon arrival. I use a small one-person tent which is ultralight, weighing about one pound, that uses my two trekking poles for support. It can be difficult to find a flat, smooth place for even a tiny tent footprint in the middle of the woods. A large deer path may provide the only option here, and they are everywhere in eastern Iowa. I once set my tent up near the top of a steep incline, on a deer path that paralleled the side of the hill where that was my only option, and it worked extremely well. I’m eager to do that again because of the heightened element of surprise that the unlikely human presence there provokes. Next are an ultralight camp chair with a back, allowing a comfortable place to sit for hours at a time, a light but sturdy travel tripod with a video pan head for the thermal imager, and a candle lantern.


I usually “cold camp”, and forgo lighting a campfire when soloing. Fires crackle, and it’s a real challenge to differentiate the crackling of the fire from wood knocks in audio recordings. Fires can be dangerous depending on conditions, and generally need constant attention. In order not to alter the surrounding landscape, I haul firewood in rather than harvest it on site. I consider this to be an important gesture. I use a sled to haul in wood for winter camping, or for a sleety-crappy night in the woods, but otherwise I don’t worry about it. Yes, I said “sleety-crappy night”; more on that below. 


A major pet peeve of mine is that a bright fire trashes night vision, making it difficult to see eyeglow*. The best way to see eyeglow is to attract attention to your presence by hanging a candle lantern near your campsite, but not too close. Critically, I feel that humans sitting around a campfire are a familiar sight to the Sasquatch, whereas a candle lantern hung high on a branch is not a familiar sight, especially at a remote location in the woods. With a campfire, a candle light is not at all obvious or of any real consequence, or at least not while the campfire is still burning. In the absence of a campfire, a candle light is very obvious, and will appear as quite foreign in that environment. The presence of the candle light provides an element of surprise that evokes curiosity among the resident Sasquatch, which provides me with several prime hours of searching for them in the surrounding woods. 


Because the (UCO brand) nine hour candle lantern is so critical to my research strategy, I carry three, and make sure that each one has been cleaned and loaded with a fresh candle. I routinely hang a candle lantern near my campsite, knowing that it will be visible through the woods for hundreds of feet. The light acts as a behavioral stimulus. If a candle is glowing in the darkness where there has never been one before, Sasquatch will come and check it out if they are in the vicinity. Once they find you, they will hang out and watch you all night long, and follow you out the next morning. I know this from countless investigations where I have observed this, and it only makes sense to me. They have to keep an eye on you, because they have families to protect. They may be somewhat voyeuristic as well, finding us fascinating because we are hominids like them. We are, after all, their distant cousins. For whatever reasons, they seem to engage with us a lot.


Hunkering Down and Taking It All In

Hunkering down is the most important part of any overnight investigation. Hunkering down isn’t difficult, but if you intend to do it for hours there are a few “must have” necessities. A good tent tops the list. My tent has a lot of open netting, so ventilation is good, and it provides an opportunity for visual and aural observation of the surrounding area. If it’s hot and still in the woods, being in a tent will be completely miserable. You just have to cope, or wait for better conditions before conducting your research. “Cowboy camping” without a tent may be your best option here, if the insects aren’t an issue. For years I never used a tent. And then I started camping in a cow pasture. Cows will walk around a tent. I would not like to be stepped on by a cow. So now I use a tent most of the time, unless conditions are perfect, generally in the Fall. If it’s cold and windy in the woods, there are worse things in life than lying in a sleeping bag in a good tent with a warm stocking cap on, listening to the sounds of the night. 


For hunkering down around the campsite, a comfortable chair with a good back is an absolute necessity. If conditions allow, a tree can be leaned against, but then your perspective is from ground level, which is a huge disadvantage when scanning the woods. It will also be very difficult to get comfortable and stay that way. I cover all skin and wear a head net while sitting outside, if I need to. Mosquito populations seem tragically to be in decline here in eastern Iowa, over at least the last three years, so this has become less necessary.   


What Are We Observing?

Theory building follows direct observation. Sitting quietly in the woods, listening to and absorbing the soundscape, and watching the landscape for tiny flecks of white, red or blue eyeglow, has taught me a great deal about Sasquatch behavior over the last few years. What or who are these creatures? Paying close attention to what is going on around you allows you to gain important insights. After extensive experience with direct observation of Sasquatch, you will begin to ask increasingly complex questions about the specie, and to theorize.


In the process of hunkering down in many different locations over a period of years, I have observed consistent traits or behaviors that I feel are typical of Sasquatch populations across the Upper Midwest. These behaviors occur largely in the context of my presence, or the presence of a group, and I presume that the Sasquatch are acting in a predominantly defensive manner. The Sasquatch have in fact often seemed aggressive, but at times they have also conveyed a mood that is inquisitive or even playful. I know of two firsthand accounts of benevolent behavior, on the part of Sasquatch, toward humans in distress. Overall, my impression is that the Sasquatch are hominids; they are a form of human. I see no other possibility. 


Having reached what I feel is a mature stage in my research, I’ve begun to seriously ponder attributes in Sasquatch populations that I study, such as: What are their population sizes and density? How are they organized socially? What type of economy do they practice? What are some of their regional behavioral continuities and differences? How tethered are populations to certain places in the landscape, and why? How long has a population existed in a place, and how has that population evolved? What is their relationship to humans? Who are they, what are they, and where did they come from? 


I long ago decided that a reasonable analog for Sasquatch behavior is the Archaic in human prehistory, from roughly about nine thousand to one thousand years before present in this corner of North America. The behavior which best defines the Archaic is a seasonal round; these humans annually revisited the same resources within a given region, coming back to the same places every year, probably for many generations. I’ve observed a great deal of continuity in the behavior of Sasquatch populations in my study areas. I have never, ever seen any evidence that Sasquatch practice long distance migration. Many researchers assume a migratory pattern in Sasquatch populations, but to me that is very counterintuitive. Long distance migration is entirely too risky to undertake under normal circumstances. The Sasquatch have families, including little ones and elderly ones to care for. However, it is entirely possible that population ranges may be slowly altered in response to climate change, most likely creeping northward in the Upper Midwest. For lack of a better model, I feel that Sasquatch are generally best conceptualized in terms of an economy and culture that is analogous to that of the North American human Archaic. 


I’m continually amazed at just how many Sasquatch there are in suitable habitat areas in the Upper Midwest. I’ve had daylight visual sightings in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’ve observed various types of Sasquatch activity in seven Midwestern states. I’ve had over a dozen visual sightings of Sasquatch so far, and these have all been unique and quite remarkable. There are a lot of them.


Regarding seasons and weather conditions (including sleety-crappy): If you always wait for good weather, you’ll experience long stretches of “no squatching” here in the Upper Midwest, and that’s a bad thing. Missouri investigator Tom Ruh once said “They don’t expect you in the rain!”, and I think he was on to something. One of my best daylight sightings was of a large Sasquatch running across the back of a blind valley, at maybe a hundred yards distance, at noon, under a heavily overcast sky, with rain and fog over about six inches of wet snow. It was dark and wet and crappy, but it was a lot of fun experiencing those conditions, and the Sasquatch probably didn’t expect us to be there. Iowa investigator Jerry Oelrich once watched a Sasquatch family destroy a tree while he was quietly standing in a dense morning fog.


A lot of humidity or snow in the air can affectively deaden sound. Even a loud knock won’t radiate any distance when it’s snowing. And forget audio recording in the rain. But these same conditions make it really easy to explore the woods undetected. I use a four season tent in winter, and all of my three season tents are water proof, including my ultralight, which has seen me through a night of stormy wind and rain. Good tents are worth the money, as are quality outerwear. I have always enjoyed inclement weather, so I don’t mind paying a relatively high price for this type of gear.


When comparing humans to Sasquatch my analogy is that we bump around in the woods like Elmer J. Fudd, and Sasquatch are like Ninjas. You have to develop a sixth sense when around them, and believe strongly in your observations. Think about the details of events as they happen, and don’t second guess yourself. My senses have never been more heightened than when I’m in the woods investigating Sasquatch. 


Remote Overnight Investigation: July 22nd, 2023

Solo overnight investigations tend to be quite eventful, and this night was no exception. On Saturday, July 22nd, 2023, about two months ago at the time of this writing, I solo hiked into a major river greenbelt in eastern Iowa. I had camped, mainly solo, in this forested area twenty or thirty times over the past ten years. A few years prior to this I had a visual sighting of a Sasquatch on the lane in; at about 4:00 PM on a Friday afternoon while retrieving an audio recorder. I’ve observed and documented dozens of significant displays of Sasquatch behavior in these woods, at all times of the day and night, and in all seasons. Rarely do I get skunked, but when I do, I always learn something valuable about the Sasquatch presence in the region. Negative data is necessary, valuable and informative.


I quickly punched into an area where I had never camped before, about a half mile hike from my vehicle. A slight rise on the north edge of a dry oxbow pond provided an ideal campsite with a slight breeze and good visibility. Because isolated thunderstorms began passing through the area, and thunder could be heard nearby, I set up my tent quickly. My walkabout recorder continued to record as I quickly set up a second recorder, and then redeployed the walkabout. Next, I lit and hung a candle lantern. Finally, I deployed my thermal imager, looking toward the northeast at the two-track that I had hiked in on. Any traffic on that lane would be captured by the thermal imager. The time was 8:30 PM.

 

The thermal imager is pointed towards the two-track lane leading in, and is very carefully focused and leveled.


I retreated to my tent after about an hour, as a storm front moved through the area. I grabbed the thermal at that time, and so only recorded about one hour instead of the usual four or five. As it turned out, that was adequate because at about 9:07 PM, I captured movement on the lane. The heat signature that I captured is unusual and very interesting, because the event is highly animated and impossible to identify. Below is that video. As with audio recordings, play the video repeatedly to get the full effect of the action. The heat signature looks to be about the right general size to be a Sasquatch eye at that distance and amplification by the telephoto lens of the imager (you just have to trust me on that). Just as the signature appears on the left side of the video there are two eyes visible. Why the eyes would give off a heat signature, and the body, if it is a Sasquatch, not give off a heat signature, is a mystery. The height of the signature off the ground is feasible for the eye position of a very large upright mammal. 


Sitting forty feet away and looking toward the south when this event occurred, I didn’t hear a thing, nor am I able to detect the activity in either of my audio recordings. One of my recorders was forty feet away from the action, and I use highly sensitive audio recording equipment. The convincing factors for me; what gave me pause about this thermal capture, are how silent the creature was able to move, how the movement jerked around in the left side of the frame before exiting, loping to the right toward the river, that the action seems to happen behind the big tree in the center of the image, thus on the lane, and that when it takes off its speed is pretty much cartoon-fast.    




At 11:17 PM I was wide awake listening to the sounds of the night, and was startled by the very loud sound of a tree crashing to the ground at close range. It sounded as though the tree was snapped off, and very forcefully pushed to the ground to the south of my position. I tend not to get too excited by this type of event, but I will admit that I was somewhat alarmed. Interestingly, the same thing happened to me in another location, in another greenbelt, about one year previous to this event, under very similar circumstances. Each of these two events produced fresh stick structures that were related directly to the felled trees. In this case, I quickly found the downed tree the next morning, and a woven structure was present in its crown. Below are a photo of the stick structure in the top of the fallen tree, an audio file of the tree being snapped off, and a spectrogram image of the audio file. No foot prints were found. Eight seconds after the tree was pushed down I recorded a quiet whoop in the center of the soundscape. The short time interval between the tree sound and the whoop suggest that they are related.  My interpretation of these is that the whoop is an acknowledgement by a second Sasquatch.


The downed tree with a woven stick structure built into its crown was quickly found the next morning.


Three second audio file of tree being forcefully snapped off and pushed over.


At 12:00 AM I captured a low woo vocalization. The sound file and spectrogram image for the woo are below. I didn’t hear this at the time, because by midnight I was sound asleep. The woo is sensitively performed by the Sasquatch, and seems to be close by. It is followed by what may be an acknowledgement knock or sound.


This low whoop vocalization is strongly situated in the right channel. 


For about the next hour, wood knocks and vocalizations were captured from many different locations in the soundscape. Note in the partial transcript below that there is about a twenty minute period where ten audio events are documented. From experience, I feel very confident in attributing these to Sasquatch. This is an average occurrence of about one every two minutes. These are followed immediately, within a minute, by coyote, some that seem at fairly close range. 


At 12:10 AM, a low woo vocalization with echo, indicating close proximity, is captured solidly in the right channel, followed by an immediate acknowledgement knock in the center-left channel. Many researchers speculate that a Sasquatch will incorporate a wood knock into their vocalizations. This is probably because the wood knock sometimes occurs during the vocalization. When I started using highly sensitive audio equipment, I quickly recognized that these knocks are typically an acknowledgment by a second Sasquatch.


A close-range woo sound followed by an immediate acknowledgment knock.


At 1:40 AM I captured what I interpret to be the sound of a Sasquatch waking up, gasping and pronouncing what sounds like ‘yeah.’ A second vocalizer further to the right seems to provide acknowledgment in the form of a quiet and sensitive whoop. If my interpretation is correct, this event demonstrates at least three Sasquatch behaviors: surveillance, acknowledgement, and vowel sound annunciation. Two Sasquatch were apparently sitting by in close proximity to my tent, keeping an eye on me. 


I interpret this as the sound of a Sasquatch waking up, with acknowledgement by a second Sasquatch.


Conclusion

Early in the evening, after setting up camp and hanging a candle lantern in a remote location, I was discovered by Sasquatch. An hour later, a Sasquatch may have been surprised by my presence, as it traveled on the nearby two-track. About two hours after that, a tree was forcefully pushed to the ground near my location, to the south and east. Sometime around midnight I feel asleep. Shortly after I fell asleep, two or more Sasquatch approached my campsite and hung around, communicating rapidly back and forth for at least twenty minutes. (Note the variety of locations from which sounds captured in that twenty minute sequence apparently emanate from.) Further, a coyote pack was in the area at the same time that the Sasquatch were, sharing the same landscape with the Sasquatch and myself. It seems that Sasquatch were hanging out in the area of my campsite for most of the time that I was there.

 

Even given the amount and intensity of the Sasquatch activity documented here, I consider this to be a fairly typical night. Quite often there is a lot more than this going on. The following transcript is partial; much more activity occurred through the early evening and overnight. 


Partial Audio Transcript: Remote Overnight Investigation, July 22nd, 2023


230722 river greenbelt overnight remote campsite arrival time: 7:00 PM 


Thermal event 9:07 PM


_003 10:04 PM


01.14.13 tree pushed over left channel 11:17 PM


01.14.21 vocalization very faint centered 11:17 PM


_004 11:37 PM


00.22.59 low whoop right channel 11:40 PM


00.26.57 close loud knock behind loud road noise right channel 11:44 PM


00.27.18 close loud sharp knock right channel 11:45 PM


00.27.26 as above 11:45 PM


00.29.52 whoop close right channel followed by metallic knock 11:48 PM


00.29.58 woo vocalization close right channel 11:48 PM


00.31.13 distant whoop centered 11:49 PM


00.32.48 brief woo vocalization with echo close centered 12:01 AM


00.32.48 acknowledgement knock right channel 12:01 AM


00.40.06 unknown low complex vocalization right channel 12:08 AM


00.42.56 loud distant knock right channel 12:11 AM


00.43.48 coyote loud in left channel distant in right channel 12:13 AM


00.54.46 coyote distant left channel 12:24 AM


01.07.44 coyote continue in distance 12:37 AM


_005 1:10 AM


00.19.07 quiet knock left channel 1:29 AM


00.25.46 loud knock right channel 1:36 AM


00.30.40 snort breath yeah with acknowledgment whoop 1:41 AM


00.45.23 loud knock right channel 1:55 AM


Notes

Technical equipment utilized in this investigation: (three) ZOOM F-3 field audio recorders (one was deployed back at the parking area) with Sonorous Objects SO-1 matched stereo microphones; (one) Pulsar Axion MX30S thermal imager; (one) Benro SLIM video tripod kit in aluminum-magnesium, with video pan-head; (one) UCO nine hour candle lantern; (one) Princeton Tec REMIX headlamp with low energy red LED.


Ultralight camping gear utilized in this investigation included: HyperLite Mountain Gear Windrider ultralight backpack (large); HyperLite Mountain Gear Daybreak 17 day pack; ZenBivy Light air mattress; Six Moon Designs ultralight umbrella; Helinox Chair Zero ultralight chair with back; Gossamer Gear One ultralight tent; Hiker Hunger trekking poles in aluminum. 


*I use the term “eyeglow” in order to differentiate between that and the very common “eye shine” which we observe in flash portraits, and in animals caught in a beam of light. Eyeglow is a controversial subject and is a phenomenon that needs to be observed first hand to comprehend. I have observed it hundreds of times, and it is one of the more descriptive phenomena, when it comes to informing me about the sasquatch behavior that I experience. I have also observed, on at least one occasion, “eye shine” from a large Sasquatch that paralleled two of us on a trail for twenty minutes one night; white and then red eye shine as we switched our headlamps from white to red and then dark when our headlamps were turned off, with no eyeglow present. I have learned much about Sasquatch behavior by observing eyeglow in the darkness of night. Certainly, when you observe an object such as a tree or the ground light up, glowing, from Sasquatch eyeglow, you will be a believer. Seeing eyeglow streak rapidly has informed my understanding of just how crazy-fast, and how silently, Sasquatch can run. The eyes do glow, by some as yet undetermined mechanism. The color of the eyeglow is typically red, white or blue. Some investigators have reported green. I observed pumpkin orange eyeglow in northern Michigan, at a single location on two separate occasions, two years apart. 


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