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One of our most recent
kayaking trips was to Pocahontas Park in Chesterfield, VA. A real gem
of the nationally acclaimed Virginia Park system, 7600+ acre Pocahontas
Park offers everything an outdoorsman could want. There are cycling, hiking
and horseback riding trails, campgrounds, wildlife viewing opportunities
and best of all access to Beaver Lake and
It was late afternoon on a brisk and slightly overcast October day. As we placed the kayak in the water, we noticed that the lake was shrouded in a light mist from the rapid cooling of the air around us. We chose to go just before dusk because during this time, the water is the most calm and the wildlife begins to come out in full force. At the same time, local fisherman and some canoeists were coming into the loading area to pull their boats out and head home for the day.
In order to make it
challenging, we decided to try and make it to a small dam located at the
far end of the 150 acre Swift Creek Lake. This would give us a good workout
and take us as far away from civilization as possible. However, we recognized
that we were rapidly losing sunlight, so we started at a brisk pace. This
would also allow us to take a more leisurely pace on
About three quarters of the way to the dam we came across several large blue herons hunting along the rivers edge for food. Needing a break by this point, we slowed down to watch them for a while. As I scanned the shoreline just ahead of the birds, I noticed that there was something else in the water with them. It was large and round with a gray-brown color. It definitely struck me as being out of place in this watery habitat, so I told my wife that we were going to paddle in to take a closer look.
As we approached, the herons didn't give us a second thought and went about their business. The object that I had noticed turned out to be a large dead deer. It had apparently drowned and was now floating several feet from the water's edge. Its stomach was so bloated that it had puffed up like a big round hairy beach ball. As it floated there in it's watery grave, it was accompanied by a rancid smell of death and decay. Both my wife and I were repulsed by it and had to cover our faces with our sweatshirts to mask the smell. Just then, and without warning the herons that we had been watching burst from the water and took flight toward the other side of the lake. This was followed by a loud thump from the tree line and the russling of underbrush. Whatever had startled the birds was moving towards us and moving quickly. We decided to play it safe and paddle the heck out of there.
We had progressed about 30 feet when I decided it was safe to turn around and look at what had caused all the commotion. To our surprise, the deer carcass was nowhere to be seen. In its place was a light ripple in the water as if it had been plucked out. In the woods, about five feet from the waterline I noticed an enormous dark figure. I couldn't make out all of its features, but the silhouette had the characteristics of a human. However, this was no man. It's size was far too large and it must have been very strong because clinched in its right hand was the neck of the dead deer. It seemed to make a brief assessment of my wife and I before it turned back towards the woods, slowly dragging the deer beside it through the underbrush.
Both of us decided that we had seen enough for one day and headed back to where we had left our car. My wife and I didn't speak a word to each other the whole way back to our house. It wasn't until we had safely locked the front door behind us that we turned to each other and asked the same question "What in the world was that thing?!". Perhaps we will never know the answer.
I have always scoffed
at reports of Bigfoot and other strange beasts roaming the woods. I attributed
it to people's overactive imaginations. In the past I've sided with the
scientific explanations that there would have to be a large population
of these animals to exist and there have never been any