Plumas National Forest, Yuba County, California
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Feb 26, 2007 US/Pacific (CBS13) MARYSVILLE, California. There's a big mystery in our backyard tonight. Is a Bigfoot living in the forest above Marysville? A local couple has found big prints in those woods and experts are saying it may not be a hoax.
It was just after a rainstorm, a great time for hunting deer. It was a perfect place, high up in the dense woods of the Plumas National Forest.
Chuck and Michelle Padigo had been down the logging road lots of times, including just a few days earlier.
Past two gates, about three miles from the highway, in a recently logged area, Michelle looked down and spotted something very strange.
What the Padigo's say they encountered was more than three-dozen huge footprints spread out over a hundred yards or more.
“I swear the hair on my arms stood up,” says Michelle.
The couple recorded their discovery with photographs and returned to take more pictures.
Joining the Padigos now was Scot Woodland, a Nevada County search and rescue team member and a certified expert tracker.
Scot says he's got an open mind but when he first saw the tracks he figured here's another hoax.
"The closer I got and looked at the prints, the more I could see the detail and the movement in the foot. As a tracker you see how things move the weight and all that stuff. The complexity of the footprint made me go whoa!” he says.
What really impressed Scot was the force of the Bigfoot print, which rippled the ground around it. Scot's footprint next to it hardly moved the earth.
“If it's a hoax, somebody really did a good job, if it's not, then there's a big creature that lives among us," says Woodland.
All the prints appear to be from one animal walking slowly but with a stride twice that of a human.
“We measured from heel of the left foot to heel of left foot, 56 inches," says Scott.
The footprint was gigantic. It was seven-and-a-half inches wide. The tape measure shows the impression is nearly double the length of an adult human foot.
In Humboldt County, in the tiny town of Willow Creek, there's a Bigfoot museum run by Al Hodgson. Decades ago, he had a similar experience when he found what he believed were the footprints of a mother and child Bigfoot.
Ever since the scratchy film of an alleged Bigfoot spotting was taken in 1963, a growing amount of potential evidence has been reported.
From a distant picture of a possible big foot, to plaster impressions of some very big feet. Compare them with the plaster cast Chuck Padigo made and you’ll see the same basic shape, same size. Almost square toes with little or no arching.
If there is a big foot living in the woods, it wouldn't be the first time somebody has reported the evidence. CBS13 checked the records over the past decade.
In both 1997 and 1998, a science researcher found possible Bigfoot tracks and feces in the same Plumas Forest Area.
And again in 1998, a veteran forest service employee found footprints fourteen inches long by six inches wide.
CBS13 checked with residents of the small towns near where Michelle and Chuck found their footprints. Store owner Peggy Pope says she's a believer.
“I've never heard of anybody up here saying they've seen one, or any evidence? Or any evidence, but I believe there is such a thing," says Pope.
Other locals say they have either heard or smelled what might be a Bigfoot, but they also tell of some big bears living in these woods.
But pictures of bear paws, while certainly very large, clearly show big claws.
The footprints Chuck and Michelle found show no sign of any claws, just clean imprints of five toes.
The Padigos found the footprints four months ago and didn't publicize it until now.
They do not seem to seek notoriety and appear to be genuinely and deeply affected by the incident but still, we had to ask if they were playing a hoax on us.
“No sir, I wouldn't do that, I'm not that smart, I couldn't make something like that," says Chuck.
Photos and measurements of those big footprints have been sent to a renowned scientist who is researching Bigfoot sightings. No word yet on whether he thinks those prints are made by man or by a lot bigger and more secretive creature.
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