Bigfoot Encounters

560 Bigfoot enthusiasts storm into Jeannette, PA
By Jennifer Reeger, Tribune Review

Sept 25, 2008 -- Sean Forker can't say with certainty that Bigfoot exists. But the Williamsport man said he's more inclined to believe since a June 2006 incident in the woods in Derry Township.

"I got hit with this overwhelming sense of nausea and fear. I was disoriented. I was very uncomfortable. I felt that I was going to get sick. It was very hard to tolerate," Forker, 23, said. "I've never been able to explain it. It's just very mind-blowing."

A visit to the site of Forker's encounter near Keystone State Park will be one of the highlights of a driving and walking tour of areas of reported Bigfoot sightings during the East Coast Bigfoot Conference this weekend in Jeannette.

Eric Altman, director of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society and chairman of the conference, said participants will be taken to four sites where people have claimed to have seen or heard Bigfoot -- the ape-like creatures some believe live in forests around the world. Past conferences have drawn between 300 and 500 people, Altman said.

The tour participants will go to a spot off Route 30 near Jeannette where a woman driving to work saw a creature on a nearby road.

They'll travel to a spot in the Loyalhanna Creek in Derry Township where a fisherman spotted a creature in the water at night.

In Latrobe, they'll visit a spot along the creek where several young boys riding their bikes in the woods noticed something peculiar.

"They claim they were riding along that trail and saw a creature walking along the other side of the creek that was watching them," Altman said. "It followed them to the edge of the tree line before they lost sight of it."

Then they'll head to the spot in Derry Township where Forker had his close encounter.

He was with a group of society members on an expedition when he and another member came across large footprints.

"We came upon this area that looked like a big nest -- like something had made a make-do shelter," Forker said.

The area smelled strange -- like wet dog mixed with other scents.

They marked the site with candy wrappers and decided to alert the rest of their team.

When they came back an hour later, the whole scene was different. It was as if something had torn the shelter apart.

Then, the overwhelming feel of dread hit Forker. His partner was hit with a sense of euphoria.

"Whatever this was, it heightened his senses and it crippled mine," Forker said.

Then something crashed through the brush. Forker chased after.

He was soon joined by the rest of the group, who searched for 45 minutes to no avail.

Forker, who calls himself a "skeptical believer," said he needs to see Bigfoot with his own eyes before he'll be convinced.

But his experience in the woods has made him more curious than ever.

And Altman believes something may still be in those woods in Derry Township.

"We've gotten reports from neighbors in that area hearing strange screams and unusual animal sounds late at night and they can't determine what it is," Altman said.

He said he's hoping the society can, in time, put together the pieces of the Bigfoot puzzle.

They've gotten nearly 250 reports in 10 years of Bigfoot encounters across Pennsylvania.

"Our ultimate goal is to collect enough data and enough evidence to get the scientific community to take this subject a little more seriously," he said.

Published by Pittsburgh Live dot com...Sept 25, 2008
(The Pennsylvania Conference brought out 560 people in 2008)

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