Stillwater County, Montana

Near Fishtail, Montana

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Stillwater County Montana (Class B) BFRO

July 1971

This happened summertime early 70's (I think 71, 72?). Me, my husband at the time, and my two brothers hiked into Lilly Pad and Crater Lakes, Stillwater County, Montana. It borders Custer National Forest, north of the East Fork of Fiddler Creek. There were no other cars in the parking lot so absolutely there was no one else up in that area or encountered. It is a very remote and high mountainous area. Lilly Pad is full of lilly pads, per its name. At the time I thought it strange that we didn't see any moose there. When we left Lilly Pad, we climbed the side of the mountain, a very rocky narrow trail (just a game trail) towards Crater Lake. Near the top, I kept hearing tree branches break, and thought, huh, the forest sure is noisy. At the top we stepped into an open plateau (in looking at a current Google map, this area is now forested with trees) . We hadn't gone far when I heard a very loud tree knock coming from the upper end of the plateau, on the side of the mountain. I could pinpoint exactly where the sound came from. It was NOT a tree branch falling. It was a wood knock, obviously wood on wood, a very sharp cracking sound, kind of like a baseball bat hitting a ball only LOUD. I said, "What in the world was that?" One of my bro's said "loggers". Wrong, there was no one up in there and there was no evidence of logging. Almost immediately following that knock I got the feeling we weren't alone. We crossed the plateau and at the end there was a slight curve taking us to the lake. This area was also open but more of a corridor, maybe 100' or less wide. We fished the SE end of the lake and then one by one started making our way up and around the lake on the south side. When I got towards the upper end there was a horrible stench and my hair literally started to crawl. I remember being surprised at the smell. Being close to Yellowstone Park I would have expected a sulphur smell but this was not that; it was a stench like I've never smelled before or since. There was an open area around the lake, maybe 30-50' or so and then heavy brush. I hurried up and around the lake back to where the guys were. My older bro and husband would not go back up around, my younger bro started a second trip. I had no inclination or want to go back around but then convinced myself if he is going, I must have imagined the feeling. So I started another round. Got up there and same thing, the stench made me want to gag (it seemed stronger the second time around) and my hair was standing on end. I would cast and try to glance behind me to see what was there. And then pine cones started landing next to me! I would hear a rustle, and a pine cone would land next to me. These were NOT falling off the trees. The trees were too far away and these were coming in sideways and consistently landing right next to me. My hair was really crawling. I was terrified. But I didn't want to go back towards the guys, it was shorter if I continued around the end and that would put more space between me and it, whatever it was. I pretended to keep fishing, and glancing over my shoulders afraid if I confronted it, it would attack. And I kept glancing at the ground for tracks to see if I could figure out what it was. At first I thought, oh it's too trampled to tell, and it was, right at the lake edge. But when I looked towards the bushes and trees right at that upper end, there were 2 sets of huge tracks, one set coming, one evidently going back towards the trees. The grass there was probably 8-12" tall and it was smashed down where the footprints were. I didn't see the actual foot imprints as in mud, just smashed down grass. Had I not been so terrified I would have looked for toe prints etc but I was taking fast looks. And of course expecting tracks like a moose or something, not what I saw. At that point I seriously sped up and went around the lake. On the other side there was a place where the lake indented into the trees a bit. I seriously thought about trying to wade across it but it was too deep and I can't swim, as I did NOT want to go into those trees. Got back to the guys and they were grabbing their stuff and in a hurry to leave. I said my skin is crawling up there, my younger bro said, yes there's something up there. We headed out and I knew something was watching us. It shadowed us until we got back off that plateau. I knew as soon as we hit that rocky trail it wasn't following us anymore. Thru the years I have searched my brain as to what it could have been and nothing fit: grizzly would have been on us, black bear would have either came at us or run, moose wouldn't smell, mountain lion would watch us but you wouldn't know it was there and also wouldn't smell. Quite frankly there wasn't an animal that would break tree branches, do a wood knock, or toss pine cones. Once the bigfoot shows started airing and I heard the eyewitness accounts, I realized what it was. There simply is no other explanation. I believe there were at least 2 of them, the one breaking the branches and may then have went ahead of us and did the tree knock, possibly to warn a second one that was messing around at the water's edge. My older bro does not remember that trip, my younger bro barely remembers going there. I'm divorced from that husband so who knows what he remembers. I wish I had had the courage to stand and stare at those bushes longer and even walk towards them, I believe it would have stood up. Incidentally there is a recent report with pictures on the BFRO website about a sighting near Red Lodge, Montana, which is relatively close to the area of my encounter. And somewhere I saw a report of encounters around a "small town in Carbon County", a lady and her small daughter would regularly be visited by a family of bigfoots. The little girl said the small ones don't smell, just the big ones. I can't find that report again but would really be interested if that is close to where I had my encounter.

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