Report # 27910 (Class B)
Submitted by witness Armand on Monday, June 21, 2010.
Memory told of finding possible fresh tracks and pebbles thrown while hiking near Jasper
NEAREST TOWN: Jasper, Alberta
NEAREST ROAD: Hwy 16
OBSERVED: I saw tracks at Sulpher Skyline above miette hotsprings, fall of 1997 while hiking with my wife (at the time). The tracks were 4 inches bigger than my own and I’m a men’s size 13.
ALSO NOTICED: It threw pebbles at me as we walked away.
OTHER WITNESSES: 2 of us. We were hiking.
OTHER STORIES: David Thompson – 1811
TIME AND CONDITIONS: It was in the afternoon and snowing heavily. Tracks were made moments before I saw them.
ENVIRONMENT: Pine forest
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Tyler Huggins:
I spoke with the witness, and can offer the following rounded out account of what happened:
On the Saturday of the Canadian September long weekend in 1997, the witness and his spouse had been hiking around Miette Springs, near Jasper, AB. It had rained at lower elevations, and was turning to snow as the couple ascended. As the couple continued their climb, they passed hikers who were descending. The rate of snowfall rapidly became heavy enough that it was obliterating any tracks in just a matter of minutes.
In these conditions, they came upon some very fresh, very large tracks – the witness described them as barefoot human tracks which were approximately 4 inches longer than his size 13 boot. (This would make the track around 17 inches long.) His entire boot could “easily” fit inside these tracks. The witness guesses that the tracks were likely close to 6 inches wide at the heel.
I asked if there was any chance the tracks could be bear. The witness is a very experienced hunter and is certain the prints were not those of grizzly; he is equally sure they were not overlapping grizzly tracks. He also asserts that there was no sliding in the tracks, and that they were made within just seconds (not several minutes) of being seen, since there was no snow build up in them, and the snow was coming down fairly heavily.
The witness says they could see about 12 tracks, and upon questioning also relayed that the stride, while longer than his own, did not seem overly long given the size of the tracks. In answer to my query, the witness also related that the animal seemed to be traversing the mountainside more or less horizontally, but if he had to guess, he would say the animal was descending, not ascending.
As they were examining the tracks, they noticed that the foliage a few yards up the slope was shaking, like there was an animal in it. The witness was curious for a moment. Then his wife became quite insistent that they needed to leave. The witness informed me that he has been around predatory animals much of his life, and has never felt the sense that he needed to vacate the area, but on this occasion was suddenly very much in favor of heeding his wife’s request. In hindsight, he found it very uncharacteristic that he felt fear, and a strong urge to leave.
As they left, small pebbles began to be tossed at them. This trail had a lot of naturally occurring small gravel on it, and this seemed to be the source of the pebbles that were tossed at them. The witness recounts that he was hit in the back numerous times, but that none of the impacts caused injury, nor seemed intended to cause such. Upon questioning, the witness said that if he had to guess, he would lean towards thinking these were tossed like a dart. He did not feel they were lobbed underhand, but felt they could have been thrown lightly in side-arm fashion, or perhaps weakly almost like a shot-put fashion (or in his words, maybe like some girls throw).
For the next quite some distance (witness estimates up to 300 yds) they were followed down the slope, and pebbles continued to be tossed at them. As they descended, they started to be on parts of the trail where snow had not accumulated, and were able to pick up their pace and started to run. It seemed that it was when they started to run that the pebble throwing ceased.
He estimated the total number of pebbles thrown to be less than, but perhaps close to 20, and upon questioning related that he believes they were only thrown one at a time – certainly no more than a couple at a time – ie, no “fistfuls” of gravel or anything.
Witness reiterated that he has not felt the sort of fear that he felt on this occasion, in any of his interactions with other large predators. He says to this day, he is not sure that he would be willing to go back to this spot. It did not seem to be something that he liked to admit. The witness seems to be a very pragmatic, self-reliant and level-headed individual. He related the account in detail, but calmly and seemingly without embellishment. I found him to be credible and sincere.