Part I- The Night
I awoke- slightly sweaty from the humid, Texas air- to what sounded like my hatchback door handle being pulled and released. I laid there, paralyzed. My senses were heightened like an animal listening for a predator. A little light from the moon illuminated the inside of my car as I lay still, staring at the little bit of sky I could see out the side window.
I had put all of the back seats down in my Subaru so I could lay down in the back to sleep, and I pinned a blanket up over the back window. Next, I heard scraping across the left side of the car. Like tree branches brushing against the metal. There were no trees within scraping distance.
I was still paralyzed. Waiting to hear where the noises continued. I took a few deep breaths, and sat up half-way, peering out of the side window with just my eyes above the level of the door. I saw nothing. Immediately I peered over the other side. Nothing. I lifted the blanket on the back window slowly. Nothing. I could see the campground bathrooms off in the distance, but I could barely see the campground road from the light on the bathrooms. I saw nothing, no one.
Suddenly, Callie popped into my mind. She had wanted to sleep in her tent, so she set it up down by the river that flowed through the state park. She had wanted so badly to come with me on my trip to Texas; and I thought some time spent with my little niece would be fun! I crawled to the front of my car and looked out the windshield towards her tent. Okay, just calm down, I told myself, it was probably just the wind, or a raccoon or something. I sat, watching her tent closely. I wonder if she heard anything? As I watched, I thought I saw a small light from her phone beyond the tent walls; a very real possibility, since she was only 16 and obsessed with her cell phone.
I looked at my phone- the clock read 12:30am.
I text messaged Callie to see if she was awake.
Are you awake?
Yeah, I couldn’t sleep. I kept hearing weird noises.
My heart dropped into my stomach, and I texted as fast as I could:
Holy shit, I did too. I’m kind of freaking out. I’m gonna turn on my headlights so I can see you.
I turned on my headlights. I saw nothing but forest surrounding her tent.
I texted her again.
I don’t see anything. What kind of noises did you hear?
Like really loud footsteps! First behind my tent, and then off to the side.
My heart was racing, my adrenaline pumping. Mind racing with different possibilities. I had put all of my road trip gear in the front seats of my car, so that I could sleep in the back. I quickly realized how bad of an idea that was, and frantically began to tear things into the back. I needed an exit strategy. Without getting out of the car, and simultaneously watching Callie’s tent like a hawk, I lugged heavy suitcases, bins, and camping gear from the front seats to the back.
In the midst of the chaos inside my car, I saw my phone light up. It was another text message from Callie.
Holy shit I heard them again, footsteps!!!
I’m coming to get you
Mary I’m freaking out! I hear footsteps really close!
My adrenaline rushed in, this time harder than before; it was like my body was a balloon, but my mind was sharp. I grabbed the only two weapons I had- a hunting knife, and pepper spray- and leaped out of my car, weapons held forth. Simultaneously my mind was gearing up for a fight. If anyone screws with my niece, I will kill them.
As soon as I took my second step towards her tent, about 10 feet to my right, at the tree line, I heard it. Crunching leaves louder than I’ve ever heard them, a gait that could only be an upright bipedal creature. It was loud. It was near me. It didn’t stop. It was headed away from us.
I dove back into my car (which was already started so that we could bolt at any minute), I threw it into reverse, and turned my headlights toward the area where I heard the foot steps. NOTHING.
Callie, run to my car.
I stepped out of my car- still running, with headlights pointed towards her- with my knife and my pepper spray in both hands, again my mind geared up for war- if anyone comes near her I will kill them. I watched like an eagle watches its prey as Callie ran toward my car and jumped in. I followed her, and locked the doors. We sat. Unmoving. In silence.
I looked at my clock, it read 1:30am.
“What… the hell is happening?” I finally spoke.
“I don’t know…” Callie looked at me.
“I heard something try my door handle. The whole door shook. Then I heard something scrape across the side of my car. I thought someone was trying to break in to my car.”
We talked back and forth creating a timeline of the events. We figured out that around midnight, Callie heard some footsteps over by the water- about 20 feet from her tent- and also heard splashing.
Within a half an hour from that time, I heard the noises around my car. Then within the next half an hour to an hour, Callie heard multiple sets of footsteps outside her tent. She heard a set of six or seven steps on the left side, and another set behind. Directly after that is when I jumped out of my car and heard the steps about 10 feet to my right; a set of about six or seven consecutive steps, moving fast but not running.
Something was making its way around our campsite. But what?
Callie and I sat there, adrenaline pumping, discussing what it could have been. I couldn’t even sit still or think straight anymore. I just needed to leave the situation and clear my head.
I pulled out of the camp site and we drove around the campground for a good twenty minutes, discussing our plan of action, and the possibilities of what just happened.
“I’m definitely not sleeping tonight.” I said.
“Um, yeah, me neither.”
“What should we do? There aren’t any hotels around us… I could just drive until morning and then we could find a place to stay… What about your tent?”
When we got back to our camp site- heads slightly cleared- we sat there for a few minutes contemplating the situation.
It was 3:30am.
In my rearview mirror I could see the bathrooms. No one was around. We did not have any campers directly near us. We saw some very large raccoons walking around Callie’s tent and the woods near my car.
“Could it have been a raccoon? It was probably a raccoon…” I offered. “Let’s see how loud they are.”
I turned off my car, left the lights on, opened my door and stepped outside to listen. Nothing. Not a sound.
I had a twisted knot in my stomach and felt that sinking feeling like we had just somehow avoided a really bad situation. Someone saw the tent, and thought they could rob my car. They tried the door handle, but then realized that there was someone in there and bailed. But then why did they walk around the tent? Were they thinking about hurting my niece? I felt sick.
Okay, it was an animal. Perhaps a bear or some other large beast? Bears can get inside cars… They rub up against things… They are sometimes only curious and wander around camp sites. But why didn’t they tear apart the cooler that we left out? How could bear footsteps sound distinctly like bipedal footsteps?
There aren’t any bears in that area of Texas. The only large animals are boars and deer. Was it a boar? A deer?
We decided to leave the campground and drive until we found a motel that would take us in. I stood with my knife and pepper spray ready, watching intensely while Callie broke down her tent. I’ve never seen a camp clean-up as fast as we did it that night.
We drove for hours into the early morning. Our adrenaline carried us through the night. We talked endlessly about what had happened and came to a few different conclusions:
1. It was someone messing with us. Who knows what those Texas hillbillies do for fun! They messed with me in my car, and then tried to scare Callie in her tent.
2. It was someone who wanted to hurt us or rob us but bailed.
3. It was a large animal that happened to know how to manipulate car doors (which some animals do), and was just walking around checking things out. It couldn’t have been a hungry animal, and it would’ve had to be A LOT bigger than a Texas raccoon. When I jumped out of my car, I scared it and it “ran” away.
4. It was a series of unrelated events coming together for a strange coincidence. Perhaps it was a dumb teenager looking to steal things from cars, he saw I was in there and ran away. Maybe the splashing was raccoons, and there was a large deer walking around Callie’s tent.
None of it really made much sense.
There is one more possibility, though…
After we had slept off the terror of the night, I called a friend to tell him what happened. He had his own suggestion as to what happened.
I laughed. “Yeah, right,” I said. “Bigfoot’s not real.”
“I don’t know… They are gentle beasts and they’re usually just curious. They don’t want to harm you, they just want to check things out,” He said.
“Okay, yeah it was probably Bigfoot,” I said sarcastically.
“Just look into it.”
“Fine, I’ll look it up.”
After we got off the phone, I got out my iPad and began researching Bigfoot.
First, I just read some things about Bigfoot, and about their behavior. I was intrigued- and a little frightened when I read things like “they are nocturnal”, “…curiosity lures [them] into plain sight. Such curiosity-evoking events range from a lighted window in a secluded house to barns with animals in them”, “they [usually don’t tear] human food caches or backpacks apart randomly in the manner of bears”, “They seem to react in a more relaxed fashion to women”, “they throw rocks and other objects out of hiding to scare people out of their territory” “found in areas with access to water and heavy tree coverage”. But, I wasn’t a believer just yet.
Shortly after I began my search, I came across a website called TexasBigfoot.com. Although now they call themselves the North American Wood Ape Conservancy. I was even more intrigued now that I saw there was a whole website dedicated to Bigfoot in Texas!
I started to peruse the site, and began reading the incident reports. I picked a random one to start, and looked at the location of the story on a map. I noticed it was only about 60 miles from where we camped- Huntsville State Park in Huntsville, TX.
I was definitely a little creeped out. I began reading other stories- one about 50 miles from Huntsville, one only 30 miles, one inside the park! My excitement was growing.
Then, I saw on the site that they had a whole map of Texas with a little green “Bigfoot” icon in each spot where there has been an incident report. So I opened up the map, found our county- Walker County- and zoomed in to find Huntsville State Park (which is located within the Sam Houston National Forest)… and there were 8 little Bigfoots. Every single Bigfoot report in Walker county came from within the state park that were were camped at.
My heart fell into my stomach.
Holy hell. Is this real? This can’t be real…
I kept on researching.
In Montgomery county- which overlaps Walker County- there were 13 reported sightings; 6 of which were in the Sam Houston National Forest. In Liberty county- about 40 miles from Huntsville- there were 15 reported sightings. In Polk County- about 40 miles from Huntsville- there were 8 sightings. San Jacint0- another overlapping county- boasted 8 more sightings, some within the Sam Houston National Forest.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of my night researching Bigfoot. And, most behavior reports fit almost too perfectly with what I experienced that warm night in June. The next morning, before I could tell Callie about what I found, we were talking more about that night. In the midst of our conversation she said,
“Yeah, and something was throwing things at my tent.”
I looked at her and said,
“What do you mean, throwing things…?”
“Like, it sounded like twigs or rocks or something.”
“Are you sure things weren’t just dropping from the trees?”
“Mary! No. Something was throwing things at my tent. And I heard splashing.”
And that’s when I told her of the Bigfoot scenario. Remember, “they throw rocks and other objects out of hiding to scare people out of their territory”?
We talked about the footsteps- trying to be as objective as possible. Were they bipedal? Well, I’ve camped many times before and heard animals walking. Callie is a horse-trainer and knows what a quadrupedal creature sounds like. We decided it was on two legs. So, it was either a human or a Bigfoot.
What kind of animal doesn’t get into food sitting out? What kind of animal, in Texas, moves so fast that within seconds just vanishes (and subsequently, what kind of human can)? Certainly not the raccoons that didn’t give a hoot about Callie breaking down her tent right next to them.
I read multiple accounts of people sleeping in cars, and waking up to their car door handle being tried- and looking up and seeing a tall, hairy, beast against the moonlight.
Bigfoots love to be around water and they often look for food on shorelines.
Thinking back to that night, while I was sitting by the fire I heard noises that sounded like weird screams. I figured it was a nearby camper with children. But I do remember thinking that it sounded really strange. In fact, I tried to record it on my phone, thinking it was either some crazy campers or a strange Texas water animal I’ve never heard. Maybe it was either of those things, maybe it was a Bigfoot.
Perhaps that night was a coincidence of strange happenings, or perhaps it was a Bigfoot curiously roaming our camp site.
The truth, we’ll never know.
For more information about Bigfoot visit: