Bigfoot Researcher’s Journal: My first Bigfoot photo from Ocala National Forest Bigfoot expedition

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My first Bigfoot photo from Ocala National Forest Bigfoot expedition

“Water, food, and cover on dry land”
These are the three things that every “Human being” needs to survive in the wild.May 4, 2012, Ocala National Forest; Fore Lake Region

It was a beautiful May morning. I was with my girlfriend at the time and I was excited about the expedition and especially the area I’d planned on going. We just jumped on I-75 from Ft. Lauderdale and headed west into the everglades.  I-75 actually turns into the Florida turnpike and vice versa depending on where you start out. It makes a giant loop around the state of Florida, on the south end it cuts directly across the Florida everglades. The everglades are known as the “Sea of Grass.” I love the Glades. To me they represent the one part of Florida that could never be tamed. I’ve spent considerable time there in the last couple of years and have grown very fond of my visits and especially the fishing. If you ever get the chance to visit Florida, I highly recommend you spend a few days there. As we made our crossing, we listened to the Everglades radio station. The broad casts are geared to inform the “passers through” of current wildlife issues and what to watch for as you drive through. It tends to make the straight line monotony of I-75, a little more interesting.

Our intention was to make the Glades crossing on the southern end of the state and then shoot north for our approach on Ocala from the west coast. The area I’d planned on being in is called “Fore Lake.” It’s located in the north central part of the Ocala National Forest. The area has a rich history of Bigfoot sightings and encounters that go back hundreds of years to when the Native American Indians still occupied the area.

I’d spent a few weeks looking at satellite images of the park, and I’d found an isolated water source a few miles off the Florida trail and in my mind, the only clean water source for miles would be our best chance to find the evidence I was after. Our closest access point to the trail head that would lead us to this “Oasis,” would be Fore Lake campground.  A few hours later after a brief stop for some fast food, we arrived at the campground and checked in with the camp-master who told us to go ahead and pick whatever spot we wanted. I was very pleased to hear that, so I went way in the back, found a secluded location for our tent and set about the usual duties one has when “Roughing It.” Where we were in the campground there was no one around. We were actually on the Northeast side with only open forest for miles at the back of our tent. I scouted the area directly behind us and noticed some downed trees I could use for firewood. I went to work. The heat was unbearable, it was around noon already and I was anxious to get on with our first hike of the area I’d surveyed before it got dark. The camp master came round and checked on us as we were preparing to leave for our afternoon excursion. I couldn’t help myself-I had to ask.

“Ever seen anything strange around here in the forest?” I asked. My girlfriend rolled her eyes, and walked away towards the open trunk of our car. This guy actually shot me a look of suspicion. In fact he eyed me cautiously, which prompted a look of surprise from me. He shifted gears obviously and spouted something about Black Bears being in the area over the last few weeks and that we should be careful if we ventured out into the forest.

She popped off something about being eaten alive and objected right then to doing any hiking in the park at all.  I looked at him like “Really?” He jumped back on his motorized cart with a smile on his face and pulled off. It was obvious that She wasn’t going anywhere; it took me a few minutes to get her refocused on how far we’d driven to get there and why we were there in the first place. Eventually she caved and we left for the trail head. It was at that point I figured; if and when I started finding obvious signs of Bigfoot activity…I’d keep it to myself. No need to make matters worse.

The way this brief expedition unfolded from this point is very humorous to me, because she was never aware of any of what I observed on our first and only hike together in the Ocala National Forest. What in fact did happen…to her own dismay, was that she ended up in the foreground of the first picture I ever took of a Bigfoot.

On our hike we took one back-back that I carried. In it was five pounds of plaster for making casts of tracks, if we came across any, about a gallon and a half of water, six energy bars, some fishing tackle, and our cell phones, both fully charged and turned off. I had on each hip what I jokingly refer to as “the right and left hand of God,” my two very sharp twenty-eight inch machetes.

I do not carry weapons other than the two blades that are always on my side when I hike on expedition. I’m very good with both of them; I can cut a four inch sapling in half with one very powerful swing.

We humped it to the trail head and to my delight it was grown over into a full canopy, the temperature in direct sunlight was unbearable. We had shade, which would make for a much more comfortable hike to the off trail turn I had to find that would take us to the lake I found on satellite. It took us a while to get to the spot. Although the trail was wide and mad for a very easy hike, the brush on both sides of it was thick and nasty with gnarled up fallen trees, and vines, poison ivy and oak were everywhere. I made note of some sections of forest that were downed and burned, the trees, several hundred of them, upwards of one hundred and fifty feet tall, we all lying in the same direction. It’s very common to see this while hiking thick forest here in Florida-particularly after a very active hurricane season. The winds in a good size storm like a hurricane always knock down thousands of trees; they fall like dominos in the same direction. The forestry service will sometimes do a controlled burn in spots like these to prevent a wild fire from starting in these dried, downed areas. It was as we got to the exact spot that we needed to be at to make our turn off the Florida trail, that I noticed the first of some very obvious signs that there was something big in the area recently. On the North side of the trail, about 20 feet or so into the brush was a broken off 4 inch thick sapling.

The area was otherwise undisturbed. The tree was broken off at around 5 feet. I marched off trail right over to it and observed that it had been twisted, not cut.  The core of the sapling was splayed out in a spiral shape indicating the twist. The break was still fresh, not dried out yet. It doesn’t take a genius to see and determine these things. The top portion of the sapling, which I estimate was around 45 feet high, compared to the other saplings in the area that were still standing, was gone and nowhere to be found.

It turns out that a juvenile pine tree and in particular the young shoots at the top, are good to eat and although at the time as I observed all of this I was unaware why something or rather someone would do this, it was obvious whatever did it was very strong.  Was it a bear or a Bigfoot? At that point I knew two things, based on what the camp-master so eagerly told us, there were bears in the area, and based on my research of Native American History in the area and the sightings record; there have been Bigfoot in the area for a very long time. They have been seen there for over two hundred years. I am sure that some will think it could have been a man who twisted down the 40 foot sapling, but why, and why here, In the middle of nowhere? Try to imagine watching somebody try to “Twist” a 45 foot, 4 inch thick tree in half, looks pretty funny huh?  Its common sense here people.

Now, all this is going on and I’m off trail and over there examining all of this and looking at this broken tree and she shouts from the trail, “Hey, what is it? What’s going on?” to which I reply, “Nothing…just looking.”

I snapped a few photos of the tree and the area and walked back to the trail. Now I was looking. To my surprise, on the other side of the main trail was a pronounced “game trail” leading in the direction we needed to go to get to the isolated lake. I asked her if she was ready to begin the second leg of our hike, she objected to going off trail. It took me a few moments to calmly redirect her thinking to why we were there in the first place, she caved and we headed off trail in the direction of the water source.

The first 40 yards was no big deal, there were obvious tracks and signs of deer and wild hogs, but then the ground cover got deep, and it was chest deep in some spots. For around 45 minutes we never saw our waist or feet.

She was losing it again. She was going on about snakes and “Are we going to live?” and “we should go back!” and everything someone that did not want to be there would say to not have to be there.

A few times when the ground brush was up to my shoulders, I almost couldn’t move at all to swing my blades; I wanted to turn back myself. For once I was in agreement but I still said,

“Were fine,” I kept saying “Keep moving and stay directly behind me and you‘ll be fine,” hoping it was true. I had gotten us into some seriously thick bush and was determined to get us out.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I felt a crawling sensation all over me, tics…and lots of them. They were all over me, dozens of them. I didn’t dare say a word, if she hadn’t noticed, maybe she wouldn’t. This went on for what seemed an eternity and then finally, the ground cover started to thin and turned into a very high grass. I knew the water was close and pushed on. I could see a break in the trees and ground cover up ahead. We came upon a clearing and finally…the sun. Looking back at what we had just come through, I knew somehow I’d wandered off the game trail and we suffered for it for almost an hour. But there’s something gratifying in the exploration of unfamiliar wilderness, especially when you find what you knew was always there on the map. I felt a deep sense of accomplishment. After all, we had just cut a trail to a spot where there was no trail before. We had reached the pond. Still at the edge of the thick ground cover I took a second to pull the tics off my arms and neck, she hadn’t noticed them yet.

I looked at her and said, “You might want to do the same.” I could see they were all over her too.

She lost it and was very upset with me.

“What, I didn’t put them on you.” I said.

I was focused on the other side of the clearing; there was another obvious sign, a very large, five or six hundred pound chunk of tree that looked to have been placed in the split of a another standing tree, between two thick branches.

I walked over to the spot and found drag marks leading from the base of the log into the jungle. I looked for the stump the chunk of tree came from but never found one. All of the bark had been removed from the piece of tree. I never said a word to her, although she kept after me asking “What?” while she wailed on about the tics all over her.

“Just looking,” I said, as I photographed the incident.

We took a minute and cleaned each other like monkeys pulling tics off of our clothing and out of each other’s flesh. She wanted to leave; calmly, I took a minute and redirected her thinking to why we were there in the first place, she caved and we pressed on. We approached the lake from the clearing; she had her fishing pole ready to go, to find that the lake was gone. It had dried up. We were disappointed to say the least.

She wanted to leave; calmly, I took a minute to redirect her thinking to why we were there in the first place. I charged out into the grassy dry lake bed, some spots were still a little muddy, which meant that the entire lake might not be gone. The lake bed was surrounded by a thick- one hundred and fifty foot tall pine forest on all sides. The spot was incredible. Looking back at her I shouted, “Can I pick a spot or what?”

She wanted to leave; again, I redirected her thinking to why we were there in the first place. Glancing around, I noted something odd off to my left. About a hundred yards away, several-seventy foot saplings were pulled down to the ground forming very large arches, they looked to have been fastened by their tops to other smaller trees near the ground. I said nothing of this to her. I photographed the incident. She followed me further out into the waist high grass.

I surveyed the entire dry lake bed; it was bigger than I thought. I’d say it was around fifty acres in total size. It wound around a sharp corner to the left of my position and I couldn’t see the other end. The ticks were on us again. She made a lot of racket in very high pitched tones, which actually worked out great and served my purpose for being there perfectly. My Idea was to get there and make a spectacle of ourselves to hopefully attract the attention of “anyone” that was in the area. In looking back on the experience, if the lake would have still been full, what was about to happen, would never have happened. She got Irate over the tics, insisted we leave immediately and at that point I’d had enough of the howling even if it was going to serve my purpose for being there. I quickly moved passed her, turned around and said, “Say cheese!”

I raised the camera and zoomed a bit, she was annoyed so I zoomed back out. As looked through the viewfinder and framed her up dead center, I was about to pull the trigger on the shot, when I caught movement off in the tree line about a hundred yards or so behind her in the right side of the frame. I quickly moved the shot over a bit and snapped the photo. My shift to pick up whatever was moving pushed her to the left hand side of the shot. I pulled the camera down from my eye and I stood for a moment staring at the tree line, it was heavily shaded, backlit by the afternoon sun, I saw nothing. But there was a small hill with bushes at its base near where the water would be if there was still water there. I could have sworn I saw something moving as I looked through the viewfinder and snapped the photo. We were only in the area for a total of around 20 minutes, of which she complained loudly the entire time, she had a point. The tics were so bad; it was like a science fiction movie or something.

We left the area, post haste, with the evidence I had no Idea we had.

That night, back at our campsite we had a nice fire. We were assaulted by hundreds of tics. We were both freaking out and uncomfortable about being there. We decided to spend the night and leave in the morning. I pulled out the cameras after we ate and began reviewing the photos from the days hike. It was then as the fire was dying down that realized I had taken my first photo of a Bigfoot. I was looking at the shot of her that I took just before we left the lake bed, and laughing at the look on her face when I noticed something behind her on the right side in the tree-line, right where I thought I saw the movement.

I zoomed in on the background and there he was. I caught his entire right side, apparently as he stood up and turned to leave. His head, shoulder, his entire right arm and hand, and his right thigh, he was clearly visible. Judging by the size and height of the large bush in front of him that partially concealed his lower legs.

Based on the surrounding brush height, I’d say he was around eight and a half feet tall and weighed close to seven hundred pounds.

Figure 3- close up image of an Ocala National Forest Bigfoot,                                                                          photo is zoomed and cropped only; right side of Sasquatch.

I couldn’t just “leave” in the morning. Not now, with the possibility of what is in the photo. I started in on her about maybe going fishing before we left and then I just said it. “Look, look what I found in this photo of you.”

She was doubtful as the closed minded tend to be, but then she really looked at the image in the photo and got quiet.

I said, “You know, you may be one of the only people on earth that’s posing in a photo with a Bigfoot.”

Somehow that wasn’t funny to her.

I told her I wanted to go back to the spot in the morning.                                                                                                   She said there was “No way she would go back, not now, not ever.” And “Certainly not if that thing was really in the photo.” I told her “I had to.” She agreed to go do a spot of fishing in the morning while I went back…alone.

I put out the fire and we climbed into the tent around 11:00 p.m. for what turned out to be a very eventful night with very little sleep. As I lay there in the tent, the thought tics all over me and of what was in the photo sank in, somehow eventually we both fell asleep.

She woke me a few hours later pulling at my shirt…she was whispering that something was out there. As I lay there silently, to my own horror; it sounded like a man was approaching. The steps were sneaky, but I absolutely heard them. I looked over at her; I don’t know what was going through her mind, but she had this look of terror frozen on her face. Suddenly I realized, whoever it was was coming from the open forest behind our tent, not the dirt road leading to our site. Now I was freaked out. We both lay there dead still and dead quiet. The footsteps came all the way up to my side of the tent, by my head. I could feel his presence, he was right there inches away from me, hovering. The feeling reminded me of the presence I felt in my first encounter two weeks earlier. Whoever it was, continued to hover there for a few minutes and then thankfully…suddenly, like they were satisfied with what they found, walked off confidently towards the forest. I was altogether…not ok after that experience, and neither was she. The morning finally came. I was excited about what happened in the night, she really didn’t have much to say about it. I think at that point, she was having trouble with what reality was showing her.

“This is not supposed to happen,” was-I’m sure what was going through her mind. It’s a difficult thing to accept. I understood completely, her resistance to accepting any of what was going on. Somehow even with all our preventive efforts, the tics found their way through our defenses.

We carefully cleaned and repacked all our gear, to prevent any hitchhikers from coming with us. I had but a few hours to get back out there and check out the spot for comparison analysis. If it was a tree, or stump, it would be there. Shadows don’t take humanoid form generally speaking. But just to be sure at breakfast I filtered some of the shadow out of the photo, he didn’t disappear, he got more and more prominent. I was ecstatic. We finished packing the site, jumped in the car and headed to the trail head. She dropped me off and shouted out the window as I walked towards the trail, “You sure about this?”To which my reply was, “No…I’m not, but I’m going anyway.” She shook her head and drove off. I turned towards the trail, and headed in. My pace was furious, undaunted by my fears I charged to the spot where I had to turn off trail. I checked the time, I made it in half the time it the two of us the day before. I was pleased with myself. I looked over at the broken off sapling, it was right where I left it. I turned and eyed the game trail that led us into the hell we found ourselves in the day before. “Not today.” I scouted up the trail ahead and found another path that looked like it led into the area of the lake. I followed it until I came upon another wall of the same thick cover we got in the day before. “Shit!” I thought, here we go again. This time I slowed my speed and took my time cutting everything in my path before I moved forward. I watched closely for the tics, only a few got on me the entire time. It took a while, but eventually I came upon the clearing and saw the “leaner” tree trunk. I made my way over to it through the tall grass and looked around.

The morning sun was bright as I cautiously stepped out into the lake bed. I turned to the right to look at the area I took the photograph, it was lit up, no shadows at all, and there was no “humanoid” shaped tree or stump. I knew right then, I had done it. It was a Bigfoot in the photo, no doubt. I walked along the edge of the lake bed to the exact spot of my shot. There was a small hill behind the big bush. In the photo he is standing on the hill. The bush was around 12 feet tall, confirming that he was around 8 feet in height. I was very excited about seeing all this, or rather what I didn’t see. I took my time and went over the entire area of the photo looking for tracks. I found none. The leaf litter was very thick. I did find a few small sticks piled up at the base of a pine tree. I found a nice piece of hard wood that was just the right size and went looking for a good hard tree to knock a few times. I don’t usually do “Knocks” but at this point, I thought, what the hell. I was walking the perimeter of the lake bed, the wind was moving the treetops, and there was no other sound. I found a nice Florida oak and went over to it. I looked around again and listened to the wind.

I struck the tree once, as hard as I could.

The “Thunk” of good, hard wood connecting powerfully echoed across the lake bed and traveled a good ways into the surrounding forest. I listened…Nothing, just the wind.

I tried again and listened…Nothing.

My third try I knocked twice, I swung with everything I had and listened…at first I heard only the wind.

And then…Thump, thump…In the distance, from way back in the forest on the other side of the lake bed I got a response. I could not believe this. All of this was really happening, it was really out here. I knocked several more times, and got no other responses. I was betting he was watching me from somewhere off in the tree line again, so I took to making an ass out of myself trying to really get him in close. Then I’d stop abruptly, turn in a random direction and snap a photo of the treeline. I did this for around a half an hour until I covered most of the tree line around the lake. I found no other dark human-like figures or shapes in any of the photos from that morning.

It was time to go; I had a good hike in front of me, I left the area and have not been back since that morning.

Posted by Mark Zaskey at 8:57 AM

Source: Bigfoot Researcher’s Journal: My first Bigfoot photo from Ocala National Forest Bigfoot expedition