“I’ve written and talked enough about this thing. Now I’ve got a chance to put it all to the test. I’ve just got to take it, haven’t I?” – Dr. John Rollason, The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas
This is essentially what I told my wife, albeit far less eloquently than the great Peter Cushing, when I told her I was meeting up with a guy I had been talking to on Facebook to go camping overnight deep in the Adirondacks. I love camping, I’m fascinated with Bigfoot, but being a guy from New York City, I don’t have much opportunity to indulge said interests. But hitting middle age does something to a person, and for me, that something is deciding to drive almost 4 hours due north, strap a 50-pound backpack full of gear to my back, and hike into the woods with a guy I never met to see what mysteries nature holds.
I first met Josh Diaz through a Facebook group for New York camping enthusiasts. I’ve been a member of the group for a while, observing others document their camping experiences, but never really participating. In mid-April, Josh posted a video of his solo camping trip at Stewart Lake. Having expressed an interest in camping solo myself, but
my wife telling me absolutely not because I’m an inexperienced klutz deciding against it, I decided to watch Josh’s video and live vicariously through him. The video hooked me right away, with Josh’s amicable, funny, witty yet knowledgeable personality immediately coming through. I clicked “Like” on the video. Then I decided to comment. And the rest, as they say, is history. After a little back and forth, Josh graciously offered to show me some spots to camp in the Adirondacks, and over the next few weeks, we made plans for an overnight trip together. Josh even sent me detailed suggestions on equipment to buy, a topographical map of the area we’d be hiking to, as well as videos and literature on where we were heading. He also had an interest in IPAs, Bigfoot, and the paranormal, which just made me like the guy even more. My wife, thrilled that I was no longer gung-ho on traversing into the wilderness alone to inevitably die of exposure, purchased my gear for me (via Ebates, of course), and the trip was on.
I met up with Josh on the morning of May 25th, transferred my gear to his car, and we were off to procure breakfast and some last-minute supplies. I had never met Josh in person, and had not even spoken to him on the phone. We had only exchanged texts and emails, but as soon as we jumped in the car, we hit it off like old friends. I am not too good at meeting new people, as I am typically shy and quiet and pretty awkward, so this whole thing was a big deal for me. But Josh made me feel right at home, as he shared stories about all the places he’s lived (he grew up in Lawrence and Lowell MA, where my in-laws are from), the places he’s camped, where we were heading, etc. Inevitably, the subject of Bigfoot and the paranormal came up, since I’m a paranormal investigator and all, and that’s really the only interesting thing about me (sorry ladies, I’m taken).
For me, this trip had a few different purposes. Yes, I love camping, and this was a great way to do some real deep-woods bush camping, something I haven’t done since I was a wee lad in the Boy Scouts. But it was also a way for me to branch out of my comfort zone and meet new people, and make a new friend. And I now consider Josh a very good friend, indeed. Lastly, the chance to get out into the woods, especially in a place like the Adirondacks, to see what (if any) strange experiences I could have was just way too appealing. I didn’t expect to find Bigfoot. I wasn’t even actively looking for Bigfoot. But it was good for me to get out and really experience true Bigfoot country.
Statistically speaking, most Bigfoot experiences don’t happen to those who purposely go looking for the big fella. Like many things in life, the vast majority of Sasquatch sightings happen to people when they least expect them. So for me, a normal camping trip was the way to go. Finding a local Bigfoot-hunting group that takes things seriously and doesn’t think every tree-break or twig-snap or tree stump is definitive proof of Bigfoot isn’t easy. The folks at the BFRO are great – I’ve spoken to some very nice people in their ranks – but I just couldn’t stomach the hefty price tag to go marching into the woods with 30 other Bigfoot enthusiasts like an invading army. So ultimately, this was a perfect combination of my two passions.
Our destination was Cold Creek, in the Silver Lake Wilderness, southeast of the small town of Wells, New York. We parked the car and were immediately attacked by swarms of black flies. We doused ourselves in an assorted variety of bug sprays, but we may as well have coated ourselves in sugar. There was no stopping them. Josh was wise enough to bring some nets for our heads, which honestly saved the trip. We encountered others who had turned back simply because the black flies were so relentless. Anyway, we strapped our packs to our backs, and started the long, mostly uphill hike to our intended campsite. It took about an hour, with a break to rest and constant fly-swatting, but we eventually made it to Cold Creek, and started setting up camp. I lost my tarp along the way, and ended up having to backtrack most of the trail to see if I could find it, but I never did. We got our tents set up, collected and chopped firewood, Josh did some fishing, and we chatted with other campers who were passing through – two guys from Queens, and a family group of 15 from Brooklyn (leave it to me to travel 4 hours upstate to run into people who I probably work 3 blocks away from), including some very young children. I don’t think they had a good night. Oh, and we had plenty of great beer, namely Founders Session IPA, Five Boroughs Summer Ale, and Harpoon Dunkin’ Summer Coffee Pale Ale.
Around the campfire at night, Josh and I exchanged some of our spooky stories. Ironically, we both sort of had bad experiences with the Ghost Hunters TV show, as we each knew people who were asked to lie by the crew. I told Josh of an eerie, possible Bigfoot encounter I had back in 2015 in the Hudson River Valley, which I will detail in an upcoming post. But Josh had some truly intriguing stories. Some close family members of his had seen a UFO some years back, in upstate New York. A large, dark circular object glided over them, silently, but noticeably blocking out the stars. One of his close friends, one night while driving home from work at about 4am after a snowstorm, came upon some children frolicking in the snow, tumbling and playing. But these were not ordinary children. They were covered in hair, walking on 2 legs, and were clearly not bear cubs. They were human-like, but clearly not human. They saw the car and scurried off into the woods. The same thing happened the next night, at about the same time, 4:00 in the morning. A very unsettling encounter, to say the least. Josh never claimed to have a first-hand experience, though on one of his solo trips, he did say something large was walking around his tent one night, and ran off when he yelled. Probably a bear, but who knows?
Sadly, I didn’t run into Bigfoot on this trip. But I did have a very odd experience, something I can’t even really classify. Josh and I turned in for the night at a little after 11pm. It had been raining for about 90 minutes by that point, with no sign of letting up. We were both beat from the hike in, so we decided to call it a night. The fire was dying, we were getting wet, and so it was a good time to do so. It took me a little while to fall asleep, as it normally does when I’m not in my own bed, but I was probably asleep by midnight. I woke up at around 2:30am, and noticed an odd light outside my tent. It was low to the ground, and wasn’t very bright. At first, I thought perhaps the fire had reignited. But it didn’t really act like fire, and it was still raining pretty steadily. Once I got my bearings, I realized our fire pit was much more to my left, closer to Josh’s tent in direction. In fact, the brightness and color resembled the glow of a fire, yet this was very distinct in shape, with sharp, defined edges. And it wasn’t flickering. Not to mention the fire had pretty much died out from the rain shortly before I fell asleep at midnight, so reigniting was pretty much an impossibility. I noticed this light had an odd, polygon sort of shape. I studied it for a bit, and then grabbed my phone hoping to take a pic or video. And as I did, the light vanished. “Weird,” I thought to myself, and went back to sleep.
At around 4:00am, I awoke again, and lo and behold, the light was back. It was still raining. Couldn’t be the fire, as I’d ruled that out the first time, and it was still way too early to be sunlight, especially so low to the ground, and in such a small, concentrated area. Same shape and position as the first time, too. Again, I studied it, my brain trying to convince myself that this was just the fire, but also knowing in my heart that it wasn’t. I’ve camped all my life and know what the gentle, muted glow of a fire looks like from inside a tent, the sounds the wood makes when it snaps and sizzles. The fire was silent. It wasn’t a flashlight, some confused hiker lost in the night. I wasn’t seeing things. But again, as I reached for my phone to document what I was seeing, it disappeared. It just faded away. I did my best to fall back to sleep, which I finally did until just about 8am, when the family who had passed us the previous night was making their way back out of the area, and waking us up.
There’s another detail to the story, but I’m choosing not to share it here. It’s a small detail, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing it just yet.
So what did I see? It wasn’t Bigfoot. It wasn’t Josh, as I could hear him sleeping and definitely would have heard him if he’d come out of his tent. It wasn’t other campers, as the woods were quiet, and anyone moving through would have made some amount of noise. Josh told me the following morning that he did hear something walking around the camp in the night, but I’d be inclined to think it was a bear or coyote (which in and of itself would be a little odd, considering the steady rain, but not out of the realm of possibility). Either way, it wasn’t when I saw the light, because I heard nothing but rain.
So what was it? I still can’t answer that, and nothing I’ve studied as a paranormal investigator fits what I experienced. It wasn’t scary, per se. Just a light. But the distinct edges, the fact that it didn’t move, that it seemed to know when I was trying to photograph or film it…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me a little and make me a bit uneasy.
The next morning, Josh and I cooked an amazing breakfast of bacon, eggs, and cheese on onion bagels, and started to break down our camp. I documented my experience, in the video below that Josh so graciously put together, and you can see it near the end, right as I also document my search for my missing tarp. We hiked back, continued to explore the surrounding area, and overall had an amazing time. The black flies kindly escorted us off the mountain and back to civilization with the same vigor they greeted us with.
So in the end, I didn’t find Bigfoot. But I found out more about myself. I found out that social anxiety be damned, I can make a 4-hour trek into strange territory with a guy I had never met to pursue my passion, even though I normally don’t even like running to the local CVS by myself. But most importantly, I found a great friend, and a kindred spirit, and had an amazing adventure. And that’s all that matters, really. Josh and I are planning our next camping trip for August 30th, and will be doing a two-nighter. Who knows what we may find next time?
Find all of Josh’s adventures on his YouTube Channel at Diaz Wilderness Adventures!