Author Topic: Trapping Sasquatch  (Read 2153 times)

Devious Viper
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Trapping Sasquatch
« on: August 25, 2006, 03:53:58 AM »
by Paul Fattig
24 Aug 2006

APPLEGATE LAKE -  Dave Enge and Jeff LaLande figure they are following in some mighty big footsteps. They point to the hefty 12-inch wide and two-inch thick planks that form the ceiling, floor and four sides. Then there's the heavy expanded metal grate and telephone poles that anchor the 10-foot by 10-foot wooden cage to the ground.

"I don't know how they carried them up here," LaLande observed. "Back in the days when they built this, it was still fairly remote. You had to hike all the way up from the Applegate River at that point." Perhaps, it went unsaid, the builders of the legendary Bigfoot trap in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest had a little help from a large hairy fellow.

Click for image

Despite the fort-like strength its 1974 builders apparently felt was necessary to nab the elusive Sasquatch, age has taken its toll. The floor planks have nearly rotted through and rot has punched a hole through one side. And a ponderosa pine tree some 2 feet in diameter at the base was uprooted by a storm earlier this year, narrowly missing the trap but taking with it a roughly 10-inch in diameter madrone tree that struck the trap's northwest corner.

"The madrone collapsed part of the roof, which was already heavily deteriorated," explained LaLande. "The roof was no longer doing its job of protecting the planks."

Enge, a retired industrial instrument repairman from Albany, is a volunteer in the U.S. Forest Service's Passport In Time program, which enables folks to work on supervised projects during the summer. Although most PIT projects focus on historic or archaeological sites, the Bigfoot trap falls under the program because it is very unusual, LaLande explained.

"Even though this is not historic yet, it is unique in the country," he said, noting it is believed to be the only one in the nation.

In addition to restoring the Bigfoot trap, the PIT crew is putting a new cedar shingle roof on the historic tack room near the Applegate Ranger District office. Besides Enge, the volunteers, all veterans of other PIT projects, include Dana Gaab of North Bend, Marc Herring of Sandy and Charlie Vincent of Myrtle Point.

Located along the Collings Mountain Trail a half mile west of Applegate Lake, the trap was built by the long defunct Eugene-based North American Wildlife Research Team with a special use permit. The group was attracted to the area after a miner named Perry Lovell found 18-inch human-like tracks in his garden near the Applegate River. The creature reportedly had a 6-foot stride. The trap caught no Bigfoot in its six years of operation before the Forest Service bolted it open in 1980 because of safety concerns. When the trap was built, the Applegate Dam was yet to be built and the road was on the opposite side of the river, LaLande said.

"They were very serious about it," he said. "It wasn't a joke to them. It was the real deal. They had the Bigfoot fever and wanted to catch one. They hung a rotting deer carcass or something up in the back of the trap," he added. "When Bigfoot grabbed it, the trap door would fall and send an electronic signal down at the cabin."

He was referring to the "watchman's" cabin several hundred feet back down the trail. The moss-covered wood shelter is now settling into the forest duff. "It seems a bit too close for comfort if you expected Bigfoot to show up," LaLande quipped.

Although nothing was caught except for a couple of bears, LaLande knows there are still believers out there. Moreover, the trap draws hundreds of curious people each year. "It's known far and wide," he said. "We've even had a French-speaking television crew from Montreal come all the way out here."

Vandals have etched their names in the wood over the years. "Bigfoot 05," reads one. "Free Satch," adds another.

Enge, 63, reared in Coos Bay, had heard tales about Bigfoot as a youngster. But the trap was new to him. "They must be crazy," he said of his first reaction to learning about it. But he and the others working on restoring the trap are dead serious about their work. Before they began, forest sawyer Cliff Snavely and a fire crew cleared the trail and bucked up a portion of the pine, cutting seats into the tree which lies on the southwest side of the trap. In addition to rebuilding a portion of the frame this week, the PIT crew will put on a new roof, replicating the boards and roofing which had originally been used.

"One of these days the trap will go the way of all things," LaLande said, referring to the natural decay of wood. "But this will help preserve it."

source: The Jackson County Mail Tribune

Where to find it
The Bigfoot trap is about 26 miles south of Medford. To reach it, take Highway 238 west to Ruch, then turn left on the Applegate Road to the Applegate Dam. Drive past the dam and the Hart-Tish Park entrance. Stop several hundred feet past the park at the Collings Mountain Trailhead on the right. It's marked by a sign, with a footprint insignia on it. After hiking about half a mile you will come to a fork in the trail at a dilapidated old shelter. The trap is about 200 feet up the trail on the left.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 03:56:40 AM by Devious Viper »