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What is in the woods of Kanawha State Forest?

The night of April 12th 2020 was the perfect night to do a field survey and look for reptiles and amphibians. In the pouring rain, John and a passenger arrived at an area he had been to countless times which had yielded good results with his surveys. The weather had just begun to change in the area, the spring rains were returning and the vernal pools were filled with water and life. These pools form following heavy rains and are home to countless species of reptiles and amphibians and provide food and water sources for other animals. They also provide a good look at the health of an ecosystem.

John, an amateur field herpetologist, was eagerly documenting the pools inhabitants when something out of the ordinary occurred. Shortly after 9PM, he made it to the first vernal pond and was taking a picture of a toad. At this time , he heard a sound he had never heard before. He described it as a deep, almost primate sounding groan. At that time he had a chill ran down his entire body unlike anything he had ever felt before. His only thought was to run back to the car. Once there both he and his passenger tried to make sense of what they had heard but this was interrupted by a second much closer groan. Again, the fear shot through him. He describes this feeling to me as “primal fear”. This is a term that is used a lot in such encounters. It was this second groan which forced him to leave the area. Here is his account in his own words:

One of the large print impressions discovered at the site

“I made it right to the edge of the vernal, on the woods line at the first clearing on the left, there is a picnic table with a shelter over it, just a single table, looking at that table from the road, right side of the clearing there is a vernal that drains into the creek, I find a lot of good stuff in that flat so it’s a very common stop for me. I was shining my light, looking for sals on the crawl on my way to the vernal, had just taken a pic of a toad, and bam the loudest deepest groan I have ever heard.” At this point he said he looked back at the vehicle with his passenger in it and reported that their eyes were huge, they had heard whatever it was as well, Jon quickly ran to the car. “So I got to the car, and she was like did you hear that, And, a second groan, louder and closer. I hauled ass out of there and went to beechfork (over an hour away ) to keep looking for stuff that night.”

Later Jon decided to contact Wild & Weird , he knew both Joe and I were into. “That kind of stuff”. So like many others he messaged Joe and I with a detailed account. Following this it was clear that Jon was exhibiting emotional after effects from this encounter which are consistent with some witnesses who have had run ins with what they consider to be bigfoot. I asked him a few questions about how it made him feel and if it made him think differently about going into the woods alone again. “Every time I even think about that noise I get chills.” He said. “No doubt, even in the day time I’m even more alert and aware in the woods. There is no doubt in my mind something is out there. What it is, I don't know, but nothing here makes that sound. I feel like I interrupted it doing something in that valley and it’s groan let me know it was not happy with my presence. Whatever it was. Never heard that sound from a bear before. It was so loud, and evil sounding, but also incredibly deep.”

Jon will not say what it is that he encountered that night and puts no label on it. He did say that he used to not give much thought to people who reported these type of experiences but following the sleepless anxiety, and bad dreams he decided to reach out to Joe with his encounter for some answers or reassurances. What happened next would probably only prove to create even more sleepless nights for Jon as Joe would go into the field and conduct the very first investigation of the “Salamander Site” and encounter on his own the proof to validate Jon's amazing tale.

Ron Lanham

NEXT UP...The Salamander Site Investigation PART 2

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