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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sasquatch Field Trip in the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Foothills
May 18-20, 2021 with Thomas Marcum

I am Guy Luneau, a 58 year old (here in May 2021) retired chemical engineer from Arkansas. I was born and raised here, worked in Texas in polymers/plastics technology for a career, then Joan, our son Scott, and I returned to Arkansas after retirement to leave the faster-paced Texas behind us.

I have studied Sasquatch for several decades. My interest in and study of the subject matter accelerated after I had an encounter 15 years ago with what likely were two Sasquatches in the Lower Buffalo Wilderness region of the northern Arkansas Ozark Mountains. In the darkness of night in mid-April 2006 at 4:15 a.m. while at my tent camp site, I was eating my breakfast and preparing for my third and final day of my wild turkey hunt. It was mid-week in mid-April. I had not seen nor heard any humans for 2+ days since launching my canoe into the Buffalo River – no canoeists, no hunters, and in fact, I had not heard even a single gunshot from another turkey hunter for 2+ days. Within 3 seconds of each other at 4:15 a.m., two very loud, very clear, hooOOO-op calls rang out of the mountainous forest. The first call was of an animal to the southwest of me on the south side of the Buffalo River. The answered call 3 seconds later was from a second animal, this one on the north side of the Buffalo River. I sat there stunned wondering what species those animals could be. I was stunned because I had never heard such calls in the natural setting.

I am a lifelong outdoorsman. I hunt and fish to feed me all of my needed protein and some of my needed good fats. I have hunted and taken most of the legal game species on the North American continent, as well as having sought and caught most of the freshwater sportfish species (plus many saltwater species) on this continent. Additionally, in the non-consumptive realm, I am a lifelong birder.  Joan and I – and later our son Scott when he arrived – systematically took vacations from work and school for 2-plus decades to see all the major biomes of North America. Our pursuit was mainly to find and learn about North America’s approximately 700 bird species – each and every one of them. By the year 2000 when I was 37 years old, we had seen, heard, and spent time with all 700 of our bird species.  Except for one, the Boreal Owl. We used taped recordings of the Boreal Owl call in the high Rockies of Colorado and also in the forested mountains of both British Columbia and Alberta, Canada to try to attract this little forest gnome. But we were never successful. But that’s okay with me. I tip my hat to the secretive bird that it is, and I fully understand how difficult it is to find such a creature – even after hours and hours of singular focus when one is searching for such an animal.

I am in tune with nature and the sounds of nature. People who know me can attest to this. I go through life with my ears tuned. It is a very rare moment when anything in the outdoors makes a sound where I do not immediately know what the species-source of that sound is. This applies to virtually all of the 700 North American bird species, most of its mammals, most of its amphibians, as well as those reptiles and insects that make sounds. In fact, because I have been so in-tune with the outdoors for all 58 years of my life, I often do not even consciously “hear” most sounds in the outdoors. All the common species that are making sounds have become just average, ordinary “background sound” to me. But the very instant the rare and unusual sound hits my ears, much the opposite occurs. It instantly goes into my consciousness and I say, “Nice!  A Cerulean Warbler.”  Or, “Cool!  The bellow of a male Alligator.”  Or, “Sweet, that is a Fox Squirrel barking, not the generally much more common Gray Squirrel. The call is distinctly different to one who pays close attention.” I sometimes tell people, “I know about 800 languages. One of them happens to be the English language. The other 799 of them are wildlife languages.” Of course this is not entirely true. I do not know what those 799 species are saying to other members of its species when they produce songs or calls. But you know what I mean: I can identify you to species because of my lifelong passion for wanting to learn all of the sounds of the outdoors. I feel as if my creator got the message across to me at a young age that “Guy, if you really want to know what is sneaking around in the fields and forests and all natural environments, LEARN THEIR SOUNDS. It is much more efficient than having to SEE every animal to assure its identity to species.”

I am fully cognizant that I am “a rare bird”. My education in the most difficult curriculum known to man – chemical engineering – combined with my decades-long career in the high-end of polymer technology, and combined with my 58-year lifelong passion for all things everything in the outdoors has taken me down not just one road less traveled, but many roads less traveled. I am not saying these things to swell an essentially non-existent ego within me. I am saying these things because they simply are what they are. For the most part, I would not change a thing about my life if I was offered the chance to do it all over again. I think of it this way: My creator set me on an unusual and rare course in life. And I cannot properly express to Him in the English language my appreciation for His making me what I am. But He knows me. I don’t have to tell Him in words how much I appreciate it. He already knows. He made me in his likeness. And who am I to quarrel with that?

So, with this background that I have shared with you, I can tell you straight-up that the two hooOOO-op's at 4.15 a.m. in the darkness of night in mid-April 2006 in the human-uninhabited Lower Buffalo Wilderness in Arkansas’s rugged Ozark Mountains were NOT generated by any animal that I had ever heard or seen in the outdoors. Right there on the spot, my brain rapidly, in microseconds like our brains do, went through its process of trying to find a match for those sounds in its lifelong archives. The only matches my brain could find came to me as: “Guy, those calls were distinctly human/primate -- sounds that only humans can make or like the calls that the gorillas, chimpanzees, and sasquatches that you have heard on TV are known to make.”

Within five seconds of hearing the second of those two calls, with me still sitting paused in mid-crunch of my mouthful of cereal in a stunned state, the conscious thought then penetrated my psyche that “I fully expect that those were two Sasquatches. The first one announced, ‘I’m here on the south side of the river.’  Three seconds later, its mate or buddy announced, “I’m here on the north side of the river.’  Perhaps it was their way of saying that daytime is coming soon, and maybe it’s about time to call it a night.”

This experience fascinated me. It RIVETED me. It was a spark that set me on a course to study Sasquatch even more than before. This mystery of a gigantic, bipedal, hairy, extremely muscular, athletic hominid having lived alongside mankind for centuries upon centuries, yet it has remained hidden and out-of-sight of 99.999+% of humanity for all these thousands upon thousands of years, is the ultimate enigma for this rare bird, me, to sink his teeth into. I mean, this animal is, without any doubt from me, the quintessential perfect master of its environment. If the Sasquatch was in any way substandard of being the “quintessential perfect master if its environment”, then "science” and the humans who have not seen a Sasquatch would KNOW of its existence – because a drawing and photographs of a Sasquatch would be present in today’s Field Guide to the Mammals of North America, right alongside the Polar Bear, Grizzly, Gray Wolf, Mule Deer, Black-footed Ferret, White-footed Mouse, and every other North American mammal that is “known to science.”

In March 2020 at the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, I came across Thomas Marcum’s YouTube videos for the first time.  While watching his videos of him showing Sasquatch footprints and tree structures, I felt an instant kinship with the logical, rational, and humble ways and means of this man.  This had not happened to me with any of the hundreds of other people involved with Sasquatch that I had uncovered in my at-home research. Thomas gave us his email address at the end of those videos.

Minutes later, I sat down at our desktop computer, wrote Thomas an email, introduced myself, and asked if he would take me into the Kentucky woods and show me those tree structures, if not also perhaps some footprints that we might stumble across.

Less than an hour later, he responded! Wow! I was pleased with a near instant response. We were both leery of the COVID concern, so we agreed to wait until things died down and then we would see about a trip into the forest. 
Fast-forward 14 months. Thomas and I had not communicated at all since March 2020. I expect that Thomas had even totally forgotten about me. COVID vaccinations had risen to a high percentage of people in the USA, so I wrote him an email in early May 2021 and asked if he would take me into the woods.

And his response was, “Yeah, come on over!” I replied, “How about in late May? In fact, how about on May 19 and 20?”  His response was “Perfect!”

With my head spinning with excitement, I told Joan, “Thomas Marcum is taking me to see the Sasquatch tree structures!  And if we are lucky, we might even find some footprints.”
And just days later, I drove away from my home in central Arkansas early on the morning of May 18, 2021 to take the 11-hour drive to eastern Kentucky.

As I described earlier, you can tell that I have been “all over the USA”, not only on vacations but also via business travel.  Of course, no one has ever been all over the USA, but you get my drift.  I had never been in the eastern one-third of Kentucky.  I had seen bits and pieces of the Appalachian Mountain chain in northern Alabama, northern Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  But I’d never been in eastern Kentucky.

During the final hours of the 11-hour drive as I entered the eastern third of Kentucky while driving eastward on the Cumberland Parkway, the looks of the landscape changed.  When I hit Somerset, KY, I thought, “This land is getting hilly, forested, wild, and there are fewer people than I expected.”
And it got only better and wilder.  The hills got bigger. The woods got bigger and darker. Soon, the overwhelming feeling of, “MAN, I had NO IDEA how wild and woolly eastern Kentucky is. I am shocked. Even this seasoned veteran of travel has been asleep at the wheel as to what eastern Kentucky has!”

I was to stay in a Harlan, KY motel and meet Thomas early on Wednesday, May 19. But when I arrived in Pineville, KY, not far from Harlan, it was apparent that there were about 3 hours of daylight left.  I called Thomas on the phone and he answered.  He said, “Just come on over to my house now. We’ll go fishing on the creek behind my house.”  “Perfect!”, I replied.

Within 30 minutes, Thomas and I had met each other for the first time ever, had exchanged pleasantries, and we were fishing for the smallmouth bass we could see in the crystal-clear creek on the comfortable evening of May 18. And that’s when I received my first on-the-ground stun of my trip.

Thomas said, “Take a look at that.”  I looked over to see what he meant. He was pointing down into the dry sand of a sandbar beside this creek that was just some 100 yards behind the string of houses that line the rural highway that he lives on. I looked down to see an amorphous, not-well-defined print in the sand. The print was BIG. It was too long of a print for any humans that I’ve ever known, and it was also too wide for humans. But it obviously had some age to it as the forces of nature had led to dry sand moving into the print and obliterating any real definition.

I’m sure Thomas saw the bewilderment on my face as I raised my face to look at him after having spent maybe 30 seconds studying this old track. “You’re telling me that this is probably a Sasquatch print here, not far from the back yards of the scattered houses along this highway?” His answer was an average, ordinary “Yes.”  I was soon to learn that he, his father, many of his neighbors, and lots of others see Sasquatches on and close to this little highway, furthermore far more regularly than a fellow would think!

Well.......just smack me right upside the head with a Sasquatch brick, would ya!? I’ve been on my feet for 20 minutes in eastern Kentucky and I’ve already seen a Sasquatch footprint. And it’s just beyond Thomas’s back yard fence!

My gosh. My eyes had begun to open. My mind was racing with newfound logic and rationality, combined with the thought of, “Guy Luneau, how could you have been so asleep at the wheel for your 58-year life when it comes to Sasquatch?”  

Well....by 9:00 the following morning, May 19, 2021, Thomas Marcum had pulled a Houdini hat trick in the beautiful hardwood forest of southeastern Kentucky that smacked me in the noggin with at least the 4th or 5th Sasquatch brick since 6:00 pm of my arrival day – which was just YESTERDAY.  Are you kidding me?

In the cool of the nice early morning of May 19, Thomas parked his pickup and we got out, donned our day packs complete with lunch, water, and cameras, and walked off-road onto an old narrow two-track logging road through the hardwood forest. The forest had nearly consumed this old road. There are signs that someone uses it lightly and rarely with a 4-wheeler ATV. Otherwise, it served as a nice woodland “bench” to traverse the forest without having to blaze our own trail through the rugged, rock-strewn Appalachian foothills.  Rugged, tough country. But not too far from small Kentucky towns. But still a forest that very very few people set foot into.

I trailed Thomas by about 10 feet as we walked. I wanted him to pace us as he saw fit because not only was this his turf, but I had already recognized his excellence in his reading of Sasquatch sign on the ground and in the forest.  Not 200 yards into the woods, Thomas said, “Look at this.”  I looked up to see a hardwood sapling right next to the trail snapped 8+ feet above ground. The diameter of the trunk of this sapling was about 1 inch at the 8-foot height.  But it was not completely snapped off.  The upper few feet of the sapling were angled down toward the ground.  The leaves of this little tree below the snap were still vibrant and green. The leaves above the snap were dead, even though some filaments of tree were still intact at the snap point.

We both reasoned out loud to each other. “Wind did not do this. The forest all around is comprised of trees some 100 feet in height.  If high winds could even penetrate down to near ground level in here, it almost certainly would have uprooted some large trees in the area.” But there were no uprooted large trees. After a few minutes of discussion, I was convinced that a Sasquatch had snapped that sapling.
This first finding by Thomas set off a chain of rapid-fire findings – one right after the other. More snapped saplings along the trail, both left and right. And then Thomas got excited. “Guy, look at this!”  I walked up to him. He was pointing downwards into a small, wet marshy area in the forest right next to the trail. The little marsh was no larger than an average living room in a house. And lo and behold, there were two very large barefoot footprints side by side about 1.5-2 feet apart sunken several inches deep into the muck. Clearly a left foot on the left and a right foot on the right. Thomas said, “This Sasquatch jumped, standing-broad-jump-style, off the trail right into the muck.” After a few seconds of my own analysis, I said, “You nailed it. That squatch did exactly what you described.”

We soon found its next footprint WAY farther from those side-by-side prints than a person might think.  After landing in the muck, the Sasquatch’s next print was almost 7 feet away from the double-print!  I got instant, uncontrollable goosebumps as this education penetrated my inner constitution. What a beast of a creature this thing is. 16-inch long double footprints with toe definition side-by-side in the muck, with the next step being 7 feet ahead! Thomas had indeed already shown me far more than I had expected to see on this trip in regards to Sasquatch, and our journey had just begun. What a stride length this beast has!

But so much more was to come. And very very soon.

As we all know, groundwater seeps out of certain mountainsides all over the world, even sometimes when an area is in drought conditions. I’m no geology expert. But somehow, some way, underground water that a person might never guess is down there makes its way to the surface to form a “seep”. And as we all know, when water and soil get together, they make mud. It was very soon that I would come to love mud more than I ever thought a person could love mud.

Thomas soon told me, “We are about to hit a series of 10 or 15 seeps over the next couple hundred yards of this trail.” And boy, did we! And it was already abundantly clear that this region had been rain-free for at least a week. The soil was dry and the fallen leaves were crisp, crunchy, and noisy when walked on.

By the time the next two hours had passed, Thomas and I had traveled only another 200 or so yards from the Sasquatch’s standing-broad-jump double-track in the small marsh. That’s because we spent two hours closely studying more than 50 (that’s FIFTY) Sasquatch footprints from an apparent family of Sasquatches that had recently traveled along this trail together.

The numerous 16 inch long, super wide tracks we attributed to the adult male. The numerous 13 inch long, super wide tracks we attributed to the adult female. The numerous 10 inch long tracks we attributed to an adolescent/”teenager”. And the approximate 8 inch long tracks we attributed to the toddler/youngster.  

My heart went through numerous cycles of pounding over those two hours. Each time the thought crossed my mind, “Not only has Thomas gotten me into primo Sasquatch country, but he and I ARE STANDING EXACTLY WHERE a family of four Sasquatches passed not too terribly long ago.
Just hit me upside the head with the whole truckload of Sasquatch bricks, would ya?!

Amazement. Astounded. Jaw dropped. Feeling dumb. Feeling small. But then a feeling of supreme awakening from having been asleep to something for all of my 58 years, EVEN THOUGH I am a seasoned veteran of woodsmanship and a veteran of “all things everything in the outdoors.”  Humbling.  Humbling to an already humble guy.  I had been convinced many decades prior that Sasquatch was a real, in-the-flesh mammal.  But all sorts of awakenings were occurring in my mind now.  I will reveal some of these awakenings perhaps in future stories.

Thomas and I snapped photo after photo during that two-hour period. We had either his boot or my boot next to most Sasquatch prints for scale, but sometimes we had one of our hands and fingers pointing to the (1) depression made by the animal’s mid-tarsal break, OR to the (2) pressure ridge that is almost a mirror image of a mid-tarsal depression. The “pressure ridge” is a hump of mud a bit farther forward in the footprint than a mid-tarsal depression is. The hump of mud is created at about the middle of the print when the animal’s final push-off from the toes/ball region pushes softer mud into a hump behind the ball of the foot.

Thomas and I were talking with the excitement of children as we went about studying these fascinating tracks and decoding the story that this family of Sasquatch’s footprints told to us.  And the stride lengths of these creatures are stunning in their own right. Even the toddler squatch having 8 inch long feet had a stride length of 4 feet. At 6’2” tall, I can barely replicate a 4-foot stride without hurting something in a particularly sensitive region of my body. And Thomas and I were convinced that these Sasquatches were just walking. They were not running.

Fast-forward to the next morning. Thursday, May 20, 2021 -- my final day planned with Thomas.  Another calm, cool, late spring morning in east Kentucky. I placed my gear in Thomas’s pickup at his house and we drove away.  I asked if we were going to a different spot. He said, “Yes.  Now I’m taking you to Area Number 1.”  I replied, “Wait a second. Yesterday’s area wasn’t Area Number 1?”  He replied, “Unh-unh. Remember, I didn’t know you from Adam when you drove over here 11 hours from Arkansas. I had to size you up and put you through the ringer to see what you were really made of before I’d take you to Area Number 1.”  After both of us getting a good laugh out of that, I said, “Well.....I guess I passed the test.”  He replied, “Yes you have.”

Truth be known, it has been a long LONG time since I have met someone – a stranger -- where I obtain an immediate feeling of kinship/friendship with. And Thomas is that person.

Soon we were walking into Area Number 1. And not 200 yards into the woods, Thomas pointed down to the ground and said, “Check that out.”  Two seconds later I was staring thunderstruck at a gigantic Sasquatch footprint. This footprint was over 19 inches long, pushing 20 inches. My 13-inch-long rubber boot looks like a baby’s boot next to this beast’s print. The width of that brute’s foot is 7 inches in the toe/ball region, and his heel is pushing 5 inches wide.

Either I asked or else Thomas offered it up: A 19-20 inch Sasquatch footprint correlates to a beast that is 10 feet – that's 10 FEET -- tall. I was thunderstruck immediately again. I know what 10 feet tall looks like when I’m standing on the ground. It is even with the rim on a basketball goal. But still, I wanted to see 10 feet tall right there on the spot in the woods. I said, “Thomas, please walk 15 yards over to that tree and stand there.” I stayed where I was. Thomas, at 6’4” tall, was soon beside the big tree. I used my thumb and forefinger of my outstretched arm to bracket Thomas’s 6’4” height, then I moved my hand higher to stack my thumb/forefinger combo on top of Thomas to gauge what 10 feet looked like in these dark, shady woods. My knees almost buckled when it drove home in my eyes and brain what this hairy, muscular brute must look like.  If we define Thomas as “a big man”, then a 10-foot Sasquatch is a “gargantuan beast of immense proportions”. If I were ever to see such a gigantic beast in the forest, even at substantial distance, I expect that the 58-year reign of bladder and bowel continence inside my body would both come to an abrupt end with incontinence right there on the spot. I mean, we are talking a 1,000 pound two-legged, upright leviathan Sasquatch here. Lord help us.

AND SUCH AN ANIMAL EXISTS RIGHT HERE IN NORTH AMERICA, UNKNOWN TO SCIENCE, BEING SO MASTERFUL OF ITS ENVIRONMENT THAT HUMANS, EVEN THOSE FEW HUMANS WHO STILL GO OUT INTO THE FORESTS AND MOUNTAINS TO HUNT, FISH, OR HIKE, ESSENTIALLY NEVER SEE. Not to mention that this beast is even much more rarely photographed or videoed.  And, I’m going to go ahead and mention what I have hinted at and have been withholding thus far in regards to a potential future story: The Sasquatch is very likely to be much more numerous in population on the North American continent than I, and we humans in general, had ever thought remotely possible.

Thomas and I saw footprints from at least one other Sasquatch in Area Number 1 that day, and very possibly from two or more Sasquatches. And none of these prints seen in Area 1 matched any of the prints we saw on the previous day, even though we were just a minor few miles from that location.  Additionally, Thomas showed me the large X structure that was skillfully placed by a Sasquatch. And he showed me the now-deteriorated remains of another stick structure. I would have figured that a Sasquatch family would do regular maintenance on their stick structures for the long haul. But I suppose as things change with time in a Sasquatch’s home range, the need for such markers and the location of such markers waxes and wanes. 

All in all in just two days, Thomas showed me the footprints of at least 6 different Sasquatches – and very possibly 8 different Sasquatches. That’s not even counting the old one in the sand by the creek behind his house on the evening of my arrival. And we had just been more-or-less poking around in the eastern Kentucky woods. Sasquatch sign other than footprints was astoundingly common in both areas that he took me on those two days.

I’ve written a long story here. But it deserved to be a long story. New things aren’t learned by humans in just one or two simple sentences or paragraphs. We cannot do justice to an eye-opening, life-changing event with just a few sentences shared to you. Today’s times of rapid-fire, huff-and-puff-and-wear-your-thumbs-out texting of one or two-sentence "Tarzan language texts”, as I like to call them, is all that most people can stand to read anymore. But not I. I still read books. Lots of books. Big books. I hope you do, too.

I am deeply indebted to Thomas Marcum for kindly hosting me and taking me into the beautiful hardwood forests of rugged eastern Kentucky. The things that he showed me far FAR exceeded my expectations. I was proverbially “blown away” by what my own eyes witnessed. If a person can be even more riveted than riveted itself, then I am even more riveted than I was just 10 days ago in my life. I look forward to our next venture – which will happen sooner rather than later. As they say, “seize the moment”. I am seizing the moment.

Guy Luneau, Arkansas, May 28, 2021

This post by Guy Luneau, Guy is a retired chemical engineer, outdoorsman and avid bird watcher. In fact, Guy can identify well over 600 birds by their songs alone. Guy has had a growing interest in Sasquatch for numerous years now.

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