Tag: camping

Gila Bigfoot

Bigfoot is not an important thing to most people. It’s entertainment – a tantalizing possibility to tease curiosity and fuel ‘B’ movies, YouTube and reality TV. How would life change if indisputable proof were produced?

If you knew for sure there was something ‘out there’, faster, sneakier and smarter than you, able to take your head off with an audible pop – you might avoid the forest…right? But you probably do already. So, what else? What difference would it make?

News flash: Squirrels know more about reality than humans – 800 pound ape-men wander the forests and mankind is clueless.

If you know the truth about Bigfoot, it puts a new perspective on human arrogance. To realize, right next to seven billion of us there are who-knows-how-many thousands of eight-foot, hairy, bipedal hominids who are so good at playing hide-and-seek that we lost track of their existence. One might wonder if we are the dumber ape.

We weren’t always clueless. And some people never have been. Traditional First Nation people have always accepted it’s existence. Only in the last century has there been a concerted denial by skeptics.

Skeptics are bred in cities for the most part…need I say more?

The Bigfoot community likes to blame scientists, and we should. They hold themselves as the arbiters of truth when they are as clueless as anyone… they don’t even go look. They’ve erected a wall of ostracism to climb over for anyone who hints of Bigfoot’s plausibility. Cheers to the hand-full of brave scientists who’ve had the courage to investigate the subject.

In spite of a mountain of evidence and eyewitness accounts, the argument is that none of it is conclusive. And thanks to hoaxers, who should be burned at the stake (I don’t care how funny it is, it’s dishonest) there is an easy excuse for any single piece of evidence.

Perhaps it’s better this way. It will be terrible if biologists run around bagging DNA samples, tranquilizing and tagging the creatures, probing and categorizing them like they do everything else. I don’t want Bigfoot sporting ear tags and GPS transponders. I don’t want our behavior to affect theirs.

I pity the great whales being harassed endlessly by dart guns and tags, speedboats and self righteous environmental protectionistas. It may have the optics of being well-intentioned, but it doesn’t amount to much more than papers written by academics to justify their existence. The world rolls on; whale, elephant and tiger populations rise and fall, but generally fall, largely under the heavy hand of humans in spite of those efforts.

I fear armies of undisciplined, city-bred college students tramping through the mountains measuring the angle of tree leans. What would be the plus side – sales of pith helmets would skyrocket? The hairy folks in the forest seem to be doing fine without our help now.

It would also be terrible to see huge swaths of forest lands isolated from our enjoyment. You must know, ultimately it would happen to ‘protect the species’ – mankind can’t resist the urge to meddle. It might also mean protecting us the same way it’s done for bear and mountain lion – with a gun.

Certainly there are people in the Forest Service who know of them, and may have come to this conclusion: leave things as they are. It may be a sad day when ‘Science’ finds Bigfoot.

Nevertheless, truth is the most important thing for some of us. Ignorance isn’t bliss, because it doesn’t satisfy the need to know. Fortunately, there is a way to know, for yourself, the truth about Bigfoot. Forget those who snicker and deny its existence. It would diminish their self importance if they knew what lurks behind the backyard fence.

The purpose of this post is to introduce Gila Bigfoot, a ‘YouTube’ playlist devoted to searching for Bigfoot. I just needed to rant for a minute.

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Utah Sasquatch

Credit is due to Utah Sasquatch for conceiving of #projectgoandsee which, along with many other people participating in the project, inspired the production of ‘Gila Bigfoot’, .

Reo is a hero, which rhymes nicely, but is a worthy tribute, because he shows anyone interested in how to find Bigfoot, how to actually do it. He makes the challenge to all of us very simple and straight (why is it someone even has to say this?): Go Look!

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Colorado Bigfoot

#projectgoandsee and its many contributors are simply walking into the woods to see for themselves. Possibly the best contributor is ‘Colorado Bigfoot‘, who’s YouTube videos of complex, massive, and absolutely un-hoaxable tree structures provide conclusive evidence of, at least, a coherent entity behind their making. What he films in the forests of Colorado begs an explanation.

arizonaannotatedArizona isn’t the first place people think of when Bigfoot is the subject. This is one paradigm people should get over. They are not isolated to the Pacific North-West; the Cascades, the Rockies, or this, or that…they are closer than you think.

Arizona is a patchwork of desert and mountain, but south of Four Corners, along the eastern border of the state, there is a hopscotch of mountains all the way to Mexico.

Bigfoot reports are concentrated in four, high country, forested areas. Area 1, on the map, is the Kiabab Plateau, which includes Mt. Humphreys and the Grand Canyon, particularly the isolated, barely inhabited North Rim.

Area 2 is the Navajo Nation, which includes the San Juan Basin, and the Carrizo and Chuska Mountains, where sighting aren’t discussed much with outsiders.

Area 3 is the best known area in Arizona. It’s home of the Mogollon Monster. Sighting reports are numerous along the rim, all the way to the Continental Divide. Here is a good video featuring the late Mitch Waite, Arizona’s original Bigfoot Hunter.

Gila Bigfoot lives in Area 4, the White Mountains north of the Gila River, and a few Sky Islands to the south. The White Mountains are mostly reservation lands for the White Mountain and San Carlos Apaches. The Sky Islands are National Forest lands.

portal_peak_in_the_chiricahua_mountainsThe term “Sky Island‘ pertains to the mountains in the basin and range country of Southeastern Arizona and well into Sonora Mexico. The ranges are surrounded by basins of arid desert. Like islands on the sea, forest habitat is isolated above seven thousand feet. Yet there is ample territory to support a profusion of wildlife. These mountains boast more diversity of species than Yellowstone.

Isolated ranges provide some interesting topographical advantages, and challenges for locating Bigfoot. The habitable range is geographically contained. Rugged, mountainous terrain limits possible occupation areas, where water and flat, livable space is available. Human traffic is scarce, limited to designated campsites on mostly primitive roads. Few people know about the area, and most traffic is local.

I use these feature to advantage. Trail finding is easy in the area I survey. Obvious paths marked by tree leans, tree breaks and barriers cross the minimal network of roads on the mountain in several places.

The mountains are rocky, mostly steep ground a sane person wouldn’t venture through without a trail. Every canyon, meadow and waterway is brooded over by rocky caps on the peaks, where a single lookout can see all approaches.

dsci0023My technique is simple. I go light and alone except for my dog. I hike straight up a path of tree leans, quickly and quietly. I choose trails that lead a short distance to a ridge, or peak, where there is likely to be evidence of their presence. There is also the possibility of an encounter.

I don’t try to hide, my footsteps will give me away anyway. I simply move quickly, under the assumption it will take them a few minutes to realize I’m off the human trail and coming their way. I hope they hesitate to move away before I get close enough.

I don’t whoop, or call blast, or beat on trees, or perform any other stunt to “draw them in”. The only thing that would accomplish is chase them away, or bring them into my campsite at night, which is the last thing I want.

I’ve been rewarded about thirty percent of the time with a whoop, rock clacking or, in one case, a horrible smell. The whoops and rock clacks were authentic. There is no animal that could do either and I’m certain no humans were around. The smell – well, it wasn’t me. That is enough, along with marveling at their ingenuity with trees, to make the effort worthwhile. They work trees like we do flower arrangements.

Of course I want to see one. That’s the ultimate goal. But I don’t expect that to happen and be able to film it. Besides, I’ve crossed that Rubicon. I saw one in California several years ago. It screamed at me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I wasn’t looking for one then. Now that I am, will it scare the hell out of me again? Probably…but then, that is the adventure. I hope you enjoy these first episodes of Gila Bigfoot.

Thank you.

Electric Earth Field Expedition 2016

A report on the 2016 expedition to Utah

Sacramento Leo, Southern Comfort Leo, Smooth-in-the-Groove Leo and Geology Leo – dragon hunters armed with compasses, four-wheel drives and field books to confirm that myth is actually fact.  I’m Desert Rat Leo, with my dog – Rat Dog Leo.

The purpose of the expedition was to find evidence about mountains and the physics of their creation coherent with the theory of Electric Universe. Not an easy task, but the theories are our own, which allows some flexibility – not in the science, of course, but in the methods of discovery.

We were using an entirely unconventional method called ‘Looking’. It’s a practice out of favor in academia. Most scientists now use computers to mimic reality – modelling reality to understand it. Like studying clay sculpture of people to understand life – it looks right, but doesn’t say much about the human heart. We took the approach of actually looking.

The trip began for Rat and I two days early. One day, so I could stay the night in Flagstaff and break-up the drive. Another day because I didn’t look at the calendar. I’m more attuned to phase of the moon than day of the week. It was coming up full, so I had to go.

Actually, leaving early allowed independent investigation of a fascinating land form near Kayenta, Arizona, called Comb Ridge.

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Comb Ridge stretches east behind the beer can.

Comb Ridge is a smaller version of Capitol Reef, the primary objective for the Utah expedition. A stop at Comb Ridge was like the trailer to a movie – a preview of things to come.

The Comb is known as a single-sided monocline. You can look-up the mainstream theory here, but it’s pretty boring. By my theory it’s a pressure ridge, made by searing supersonic winds and shock waves. The theory is called Arc Blast. It’s really hypothesis, not theory, but that word has too many syllables. Most people know what I mean – it’s a concept that still requires proof.

Arc Blast is the literal breath of the mythical dragon – one of the archetypes from mythology that describes hydra-headed serpents launching from the depths of the sea, exposing the basement of Earth, arcing across the land, and dragging a tsunami of ocean behind that flooded to the height of mountain tops.

Arc Blast is caused by electrical discharge – arcs of current – lightning bolts in other words. Only this is lightning from inside Earth. When Earth amps-up from an external cause, like a big comet, or Solar flare, current internal to Earth blast out. The havoc that follows makes weather like Jupiter’s, with winds and lightning of enormous proportion.

Comb Ridge is a perfect example of an arc blast feature, because it exhibits triangular buttresses. These I contend can only be explained by supersonic winds and sonic shock waves. Mainstream theorizes these triangular forms are made by water erosion, which is entirely inadequate, and I can show that.

The reason is coherency in the forms. Their explanations lack it. Mine don’t. Examining Comb Ridge gave confidence to my claim.

It’s also easily accessible. A graded road runs behind the ridge and cuts through a canyon between buttresses. Rat Dog and I parked the Rover in the sandy wash, and simply climbed up. They lay at a shallow angle of about 20 degrees.

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Structurally, everything we examined fit our theory. The buttresses are layered sandstone, no evidence water erosion created the shape of the triangles, and every indication they were deposited by winds.

But we also found things I hadn’t expected.

U.S. Route 163 passes through Comb Ridge, north into Monument Valley. As the road falls away from the Ridge, there is a stark, ugly blister on the land. It’s called Agathla Peak, and pokes 1,500 feet out of the desert floor. It’s dark brown, to black, like it’s made of burnt mud.

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It’s where a huge lightning bolt struck, and left this raised blister. Using the preferred scientific instrument, our eyes, Rat and I detected lots of them in the area.

These pinnacles are considered by convention to be diatreme of ancient volcanoes. A plug of magma that stuck in the volcano’s throat, now exposed by time and erosion. The mainstream theory requires all of the surrounding land to have eroded away, leaving these ‘volcanic plugs’ behind.

But how severe erosive forces, capable of scouring away thousands of feet of land, could leave behind these crumbling chunks of sandstone is a bit perplexing to me.

Another feature of these pinnacles are dikes – walls of crumbling, darkened material called minette, also believed to be formed by volcanic process. But minette is like sandstone that has been altered electrically. It’s not like what spews from volcanoes at all.

Rat Dog and I found the same kind of dikes embedded in the buttresses, and radiating across the desert plains. They are too unconsolidated and crumbly to withstand forces that washed everything around them away. It seems more likely they are the remains of electrically charged shock waves from the same lightning that created the pinnacles.

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Dikes angle across the plains in front (south) of Comb Ridge.
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Dikes (some are highlighted) radiate from Comb Ridge. Dikes align with the edges and orientation of triangular buttresses, radiating towards the river. Do you see coherency? Geologists think water erosion made the triangular buttresses. But how did water make these dikes – they are supposed to be caused by volcanic process. The black pinnacle due north of Kayenta is Agathla Peak. It’s a cluster of lightning strikes.

Having collected this key intelligence, Rat was hot and needed a nap. Of course, she took my lap, which meant I wore a hot dog in my lap. The temperature on the Comb was around 100ºF.

We drove on through Monument Valley. The place is is astonishing. Many trips back are in order, but on this day we rushed through on our way to Moab. We needed to set camp before dark.

Moab is a pretty patch of green in Canyon Country, where tributary creeks feed the Colorado. We gassed the Rover, ate and restocked the coolers with ice. Then ventured along the river to the campsite where the other Leo’s intended to meet us. That campsite was full. So was the next. And the next. And the next.

2016-08-14-14-33-081Down river we drove, surveying each campsite along the way. Here, the river cuts through a deep walled chasm favored by rock climbers. So the camps were full of these spider people; a strange, underfed and insular cult, festooned with colorful webbing.

Rat Dog felt it was best to keep our distance from the strange beings. Finally, we came to the last campsite available. It was empty.

We took the finest, shady spot at the bank of the river. While I unloaded gear, pitched the tent and collected firewood, Rat Dog sniffed flowers.

She didn’t sniff flowers for long – she wandered away instead. I hated to leash her since there was no-one else around, but couldn’t keep my eyes on her either. She seemed reluctant to stay in camp. The reason became apparent when I pulled branches from a pile of driftwood by the river-bank. Clouds of mosquitoes billowed out.

And so began a relentless night of misery. The Rat found mosquitoes in the flowers. Her hair sprouted clumps where bites raised her skin. She looked pitiful in a funny way, but I was alarmed at how many bites she had. She’s not a big dog and can’t take much poison. So, I zipped her inside the tent.

Meanwhile, the mosquitoes began to consume me. Constant movement was the only relief. I found if I moved fast enough to generate wind, I could outrun them. So I ran around, grabbing sticks and branches for the fire. Every piece of wood I picked-up swarmed more mosquitoes.

I frantically lit the fire to get smoke in the air. It was the only form of repellent available. I’m not used to dealing with mosquitoes because I live in a dry region. I don’t use bug repellent on my skin either. I had to resort to the only other form of relief at my disposal. A bottle of vodka.

2016-08-14-20-11-52I watched the sun angle below canyon walls, wondering how long until it cooled inside the tent to be bearable. I paced back and forth in smoke to foil the mosquitoes, my skin cooking from fire, my insides cooking in vodka, and fever in my brain from both.

When I bent over to tend the fire, mosquitoes attacked my backside. They bit through the seat of my pants. I ate naked crackers for dinner with vodka. It was too hot for cheese. As soon as the temperature dipped I joined Rat in the tent.

When morning sun steamed me awake, a dozen of the insolent bugs lounged on the tent walls. Fat with our blood, they were too sluggish to escape my wrath. I turned them into bloody blotches, and then regretted the stains.

I left Rat sleeping while packing everything, none of which I used. Then collected her and the tent, let her pee, and left for Moab to find coffee.

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Once mental cognizance was reestablished with a large, dark roast, the Rat and I took stock. There was no way we were camping along the river again. I had to break down and buy a map.

This was a smart move. We’d been going solely on instinct, as dragon hunters are wont to do, eschewing navigational aides. I noted several campsites high on Dead Horse Mesa, between the Green and Colorado Rivers.

The Mesa had no mosquitoes, and was also out of the oppressive, brooding canyon. Here, there was big sky, clouds and a breeze. It’s called Dead Horse, because some dumb-ass rustlers thought the narrow tip of the Mesa would make a good corral to capture a stolen herd. I’ll let you figure out the rest.

W chose a campsite with trees and pitched the tent and a surplus parachute for extra shade. I strung it between Junipers, and when the wind blew right, it billowed and made an awesome clam shell awning.

The Leo’s arrived early afternoon. Finally, someone to talk with besides Rat. Tents went up, beers came out, along with chairs, ice chests and gadgets. There was also one luxurious, padded cot. I noticed the Rat eyeing it jealously. So did I. “Don’t you dare!” I said, and I gave her a look that meant business.

It belonged to Geology Leo. He laid on it immediately and began snoring, and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the trip.

The rest of us sat at the fire, talking and drinking beer. It was fun and we soon succumbed to disorientation, unbalance and expansive creativity. It wasn’t long before, one by one, they all drifted away to nap. Envy towards Geology Leo, snoring away on that damn cot began to burn inside, so I sat and grumbled to myself.

A couple things of note occurred then. We had our first wildlife encounter as a group. Rat and I met the mosquitoes, of course – my butt still itched from that. But this ‘National Geographic’ moment was more engaging. A fox approached Smooth-in-the-Groove while he napped on the ground, and sniffed his face. It was cute, in spite of the risk of fleas and rabies.

Then the camp host paid a visit and berated us for pitching tents, leaving dogs off-leash, and parking vehicles in the wrong places. Once we made adjustment according to orders, however, he relaxed and talked about the fox. Apparently it was a little rascal who stole campers clothes and food on a regular basis.

The other thing of note were two Italian girls camped across the road. The Rat made first contact. She trotted away to meet them first chance she got. She’s not overly fond of people in general, but she trusts other women.

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The Italians came to say Ciao to the chow. The Rat screams in protest.

The young ladies were from Italy, on a cross country trip through National Parks. I had no intention of bothering them, but Rat didn’t give me a choice. The girls immediately began cooing and fawning over her, so she jumped in their car and sat on the comfy seat. I had to get her back.

Smoothy immediately joined us. He wanted to flirt with the girls. So, while I mentally stumbled trying to communicate, he went-off speaking fluent Italian. This left me standing with my thumb up my butt while they conversed.

I extracted Rat from their car and threw her in the tent. She looked at me with daggers the rest of the night. I know she’d have abandoned me for those girls if I let her.

The next day the wind changed, causing the parachute awning to flap mercilessly, knocking off hats and slapping the unwary. The breeze also brought scent of the toilet to us.

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This dragon tried to eat the campsite in Goblin State Park.

I hadn’t noticed any odor when I picked the campsite. But something was different today. Not just wind direction, either. The chemical balance was off in the toilets. It smelled like shit.

We moved in slow modality all morning, shuffling about sipping instant coffee in the smelly miasma. The Italian ladies came and shared granola bars. They brought one for each of us (two for Rat) and shared their travel stories while we munched. They were very charming with their accents and animated story-telling. They spoke better English than we could at that moment, so we just listened.

Around Noon, we finally got into the Rover and Southern Comfort’s jeep for some geology field work. What follows is actual field work in action:

Desert Rat Leo, September, 2016.

The Bigfoot Hunter

Okay, I’m serious about Bigfoot. It may not make some people happy that I’m mixing the classical physics of Electric Universe with a crypto-legend like the hairy-man, but from my perspective, I’ll be seen as crazy by fewer people for believing in Bigfoot than in a Grand Unified Electrical Theory. Nobody understands magnetism, not even physicists, but everyone gets the boogey-man. My approach is to go for the truth and damn the torpedoes.

Besides, I saw one…it’s leg anyway. It screamed like a banshee and scared the shit out of me. So, how can I undo that. Enjoy the story.

The Bigfoot Hunter

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What? You thought it was me? Not on your life. There isn’t a gun big enough to make me feel safe. I send Ginger out. She’s fearless – just look at that face. Here she is in her element:

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Ginger on the trail of Bigfoot

You can see the determination. See the furrow in her brow… look out, Bigfoot! I have a theory they avoid people like the plague because we keep dogs. The hairy-men hate dogs.

The Hunt

DSCI0071Ginger and I traveled to a little known place in Arizona where the creatures are known to make an appearance now and then. I’m not saying where it is, but it’s a large mountain that looks like this one. We arrived and found a beautiful camp by the lake.

Now I need to give a little back-story as to why we came to this particular place. That is, besides the many reported sightings, encounters, local legends and Apache lore that attest to its presence.

I camped at this lake a few weeks ago with my friends, Bean and Bobblehead. During the night, around two or three AM, a pick-up truck left a campsite across the lake from us and roared past in a hurry. This woke me up.

A few minutes later I heard loud banging across the lake from the direction the truck came from. Each campsite is equipped with a steel bear-proof food storage container – you can see it in the picture of the campsite. The banging sounded like someone was taking a baseball bat to one of these steel boxes. There were three, or four loud bangs, a pause, more bangs, another pause and more bangs. Then a high pitched, “hoo, hoo” like a chimpanzee shout.

DSCI0043Soon after, Ginger crawled out of the sleeping bag and looked at the tent door. I thought she needed to potty, or get water, so I unzipped the tent. She immediately crouched low, dropped her ears and tail, and growled with deep, serious intent out the opening. She almost never growls and I’ve only heard her do that when fending off a mean dog, or one of the meth addicts in our neighborhood. I don’t know how she can tell a meth addict from anyone else. Same way we do, I guess, because they’re scary.

Anyway, she then turned around and slunk into the bottom of the sleeping bag. I didn’t hear anything, but I shut the tent real quick.

Now, I know this could have been some inconsiderate campers. Nevertheless, on the drive down the mountain I kept my eyes out for any strangeness. Deep, dark, old growth forests have plenty of weird things going on. Humans don’t generally notice because we are as incompetent in the woods as some presidential candidates are with State secrets. But there is strange and there is high strangeness. I saw high strangeness.

So did Ginger. She was the one who had to go back and see more. See, she’s been watching Bigfoot YouTube videos with me for years now. She fashions herself a canine BoBo.

It all started after my own encounter in California (read the “Encounter” if you want that story). When I began to research Bigfoot, Ginger was in my lap, soaking-up all the same information. It’s really quite astounding if you take the time with an honest, open mind to look into it. I know that is almost impossible to do – have an open mind that is – because most people don’t look into anything. They are told everything.

What everyone is told is that the “credible people” who say they’ve seen a Bigfoot are simply mistaken. They likely saw a bear and the “other people” are just nuts. Well there are those, no doubt. But what they don’t say is the improbability of so many hunters, hikers, sheriffs, forest rangers; people educated both in the woods and in schools, who swear they have seen one, or experienced some encounter that isn’t otherwise explicable.

Plus the fact there is absolutely no ecological, or biological reason they can’t exist. After all, we have fossils of large bipedal hominids and apes, we carry Neanderthal and Denovisan DNA in our genes, we have living gorillas, orangutans, chimps, several other apes, and more still being found as recently as the last couple decades, so it isn’t even improbable.

The other thing that pisses me off to no end is every time someone does a documentary on Bigfoot, they bring out some Biology professor in a bow-tie to tell us all how wrong we are to think there is an undocumented ape in the woods. I’ve never seen one of these professors who looked like they could keep a campfire lit, let alone find their way back from the privy without a GPS. We have millions of undocumented people in this country. Who’s to say there aren’t a few thousand hairy ones living where few people dare to go.

Well, Ginger knows all this. That is why she insisted we go camping at that lake again. We couldn’t take Bean, or Bobblehead and their dogs, because they just drink beer and this was to be all business as far as Ginger was concerned. I agreed, because I knew I could take some great photos of the Arc Blast features on the mountain. Besides, there is no saying “no” to Ginger.

We chose this particular campsite because it was the location we heard the banging. It was the farthest down the road, next to the dam and at least a hundred yards from the next campers.

DSCI0002We left on the fourth of July. This was strategic on two counts. First, all the holiday campers would be leaving that day and we like our solitude. Second, all the Bigfoot should be ready to raise hell now that the firework wielding, beer soaked campers were gone.  We thought the Skeezamen ( a local name) might even venture to the lake now that it was quite after the long weekend. I can’t help but think that crawdads would be one of their favorite snacks – its one of mine.

The camp-site was outstanding, the closest to the lake, with a view and even a little landing next to the dam. Behind us the hill climbed to a peak forested with big Ponderosa and lots of fallen wood for the fire.

Our calculations were excellent as far as timing. We passed dozens of trucks going down the mountain. When we arrived at the lake there were only four other campers in the entire campground. We met our closest neighbors, who were staying over from the previous day. They kind of looked happy to see someone else in the campground.

After the usual chores of setting up camp, collecting wood and starting a fire, Ginger sniffed flowers while I relaxed with a cold refreshment and watched the setting sun turn the ripples on the lake monochrome. The evening was cooling, but I was still okay in a tee-shirt.

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Two people were fishing the opposite shore in a canoe as I walked down to the landing to enjoy the breeze in the fading light. It was then I heard the chimps again. That’s when I took this picture with the camera pointing in the direction the screams were coming from. I tried to record the sounds, but all I captured was my own breathing.

The time before, what I heard was a “hoo, hoo” yell, like a playful chimp might make. This wasn’t playful. It was screaming, hoots and occasional low grunts that went on for about twenty minutes.

As I listened, Ginger sniffed flowers until I said, “Do you hear that?” She finally perked up and listened. Across the lake, the people in the boat were jostling about, trying to row back to the boat landing. I can’t say whether it was because of the screams, or because it was getting dark, but they seemed to be trying to hurry away from the other shore.

I heard other campers from that direction blowing air horns, as if to chase off a bear. The air horns were no louder than the screaming.

The noise ended. It was not coyotes. I cannot believe it was humans. It was way too loud and continuous. Who screams and hoots and growls for twenty minutes. I don’t think a human can even make some of the sounds we heard.

I built-up the fire and began fixing dinner. We didn’t hear anything else that night, except a skunk that invaded the camp and made a stink.

In the morning, I fired up a big coffee and loaded Ginger in the StRange Rover. It was time to go searching. As we drove out of the campgrounds, we passed by the creek that fed the lake. That was where the screams came from. It was dense forested wetlands that an army could hide in.

We drove about five miles to the end of the road and then followed a four wheel drive trail to some undeveloped campsites. This was a pretty wild area, but I didn’t see anything out of ordinary. We drove back another ten miles the other way. Here is where I saw the strangeness before. For about a five mile stretch near the lake, there were unusual tree breaks and tree structures I noticed the previous trip.

Strangeness

Trees fall over. Trees break; blown by winds, hit by lightning, wounded by fire. There are many ways a tree can fall and be left leaning against another, especially in an ungroomed, old growth area like this one. But there seemed to be a pattern.

DSCI0045Ginger and I scouted several areas where the trees seemed arranged non-randomly. There were several areas where there were these crosses formed from broken tree trunks. They faced the road squarely with lots of other disturbance around them; a profusion of broken limbs, stumps and trunks leaning against other trees.

Often, the trees were wedged between other trees.DSCI0037

So, yes..that can happen naturally, but what about this?DSCI0034

This one is wedged and bent sideways between trees. Here are more views of the same tree. It did not fall this way without help.

The top left picture shows the base of the tree stuck in the ground. The bottom left shows the broken tip wedged between the bigger trees. The big picture show how it crosses like a barrier next to the road.

There were more elaborate structures, too. These trees are bent to the ground and held down by logs.

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DSCI0031DSCI0030There are two trees still rooted and bent over in arches, another laid over in the same direction and one pressed against the trunk of the center tree like a spring. Two logs are laid over all four to hold them down. Well, it seems odd to me. Ginger wouldn’t get out of the car. She was bored with tree structures.

I was fascinated though. My engineer mind tried to decode a plausible natural cause. It couldn’t. Here is another that defies logic.DSCI0027uI suppose this could have fallen in a wind this way. If it was the only one like it I would even assume so, but there are several broken, bent or wedged in improbable positions like this in clusters. Note all the other leaning trees nearby. Here are more views of the same trees.DSCI0028DSCI0026Ginger was getting annoyed I was looking at trees. She wanted to look for Bigfoot. She doesn’t make the connection with trees because she’s a dog. Dogs don’t look up. If it had been a turd on the ground, or something fun to pee on, she’d have been more interested.

Here is another.DSCI0029Notice how the leaning trees are held down by the broken tree? They should not have been in the line of fall if this had been wind or snow. That’s how they always seem to fall in this particular area though.

Of course I didn’t get a picture of the best one I found. It was a large trunk of a tree wedged into a standing trio of live trees, but it had branches that wrapped both direction behind the other trees. In other words, it could not have fallen there without snapping those big branches. It looked like it was shoved between the trees, bottom first.

As I examined it, looking for the right camera angle, rock clacking began in the woods not far away. I left without a picture.

So all of this was pretty interesting to me, but Ginger wasn’t impressed. She wanted something to growl at. After an exhausting day searching the forest, we returned to camp and settled down for the evening. At least I did. Ginger wandered off on her own.

Bad Daddy

After all that time I walked in the forest, she sat in the StRange Rover and slept. Now she wanted to go hunting for the Skeezamen. What the hell, I thought. I’m pooped. I wasn’t too nice about corralling her back to the campsite. I even spanked her and it made her mad. So she trotted up the hill and disappeared.

It was dusk, so this action worried me. I climbed the hill after her, all the way to the top. The reverse side of the hill was a cliff. It dropped all the way to the valley floor. I’m talking a drop of about five thousand feet, nearly vertical. It was like looking into the Grand Canyon. If she went down that slope, I knew she wasn’t coming back up.

Not only are these woods legendary for the Skeezamen, but it has the largest bear concentration in the State, not to mention cougars, bobcats and venomous things of all types. I was worried.

Twice more I combed the mountain in the dark with a flashlight. I really didn’t care about any chimp noises at this point. I didn’t hear anything anyway. I even turned the light out to listen – for some reason I seem to hear better that way. Nothing.

I crawled into the tent and left the flap open and the fire burning so she could find her way back. I woke at first light to the sound of a crow. Crows are ubiquitous in these mountain. They caw all the time, part of the forest background noise. This crow was being answered by another. Every time it cawed, another answered. Only the answer was more of a cow than a caw.

It is said that Bigfoot like to mimic animal calls and even people talking, only they aren’t very good at it. They make the right tones, but can’t get the inflections right. I have wondered if this is true, or just an excuse made by TV Bigfoot hunters who don’t have any other “evidence” to point to – you gotta make a show.

This crow made me think twice about that. But I was in no mood to ponder. Ginger had not returned. I climbed the mountain three more times, crossed the dam and followed the stream as far as I could. No sign of her.

By eight AM, other campers were up cooking breakfast. I hoped she’d found shelter with one of them and was at their camp waiting for bacon. For a little dog, she can eat  lot of bacon. I packed my kit and drove to each one. No one had seen her.

Brave Ginger

IMG_1437Ginger and I are very attached. She’s a weird dog, but also the smartest, warmest dog I’ve ever known. By warm, I mean warm. Mexican aristocrats bred Chihuahuas to sleep with because they were better than hot water bottles. This is how we sleep, with her curled against my back to keep us warm.

I returned to the empty camp despondent. I feared at this point she must be dead. There were too many wild and hungry things out there a city dog had no notion of. She’s never slept a single night outside of a bed.

I could not bear the thought of her lost on that vast mountain, alone, defenseless and scared. I could not bear the thought of leaving and never knowing. I realized, I would need to notify the Forest Service, the Humane Society and post flyers around the campground – all in futility. I decided I would wait until noon before leaving for the nearest town.

And then a miracle happened.  She slunk out of the tall grass a few feet from me, head down, a bit torn-up and bloody and terribly frightened. I wiped my tears as she came to me. I thought she was afraid I would be mad. I wasn’t of course and promised her I’d never spank her – or any dog – again.

I don’t think that is what made her scared. After driving home with her in my lap, she was still subdued for days. She wouldn’t leave my side. I think she was traumatized being lost in the woods.

IMG_1460I don’t know where she slept that night. One camper who I’d talked to flagged me down as I left the campground and asked if I’d found her. He said she had approached his camp just after I’d been by earlier and he was looking to tell me. I said, thanks she was with me now and wondered from which direction she’d come. He pointed to the opposite side of the lake from the campground.

Apparently, she’d been lost in the ravine below the dam and came up on the wrong side, then circled the lake to get back. It was a close thing. She was really lost and likely only found her way back by the sounds and smells of the campground that morning. Really a miracle considering all the creatures out hunting food like her at night.

More Bigfoot hunting will have to wait for the fall. I don’t think I’ll take her next time. I’m investing in a .44 magnum and a hot water bottle instead. She wasn’t much good at finding the wild Skeezamen anyway. Or was she?

A.D.Hall 7.9.16

After Dark at EU2016

myIMG_0171_face3This was to be my first EU conference. As I left Tucson on I-10, the temperature was hot. Arizona in June is like Venus. Temperatures always hover above 100ºF, but when it exceeds 110ºF, it’s life threatening.

First, you seem to stop sweating. You still release sweat, but it evaporates immediately and you remain dry as a bone. There is no moisture in the air. No matter how much water is consumed, lips chap, pee turns orange and scratchy salt crusts form in armpits.

It got hotter and dustier as I traveled north into the Phoenix basin.  When I arrived in Mesa at noon, it was 120ºF in the shade.

Since I was a speaker and a last minute addition to the roster, I went straight to the auditorium to get checked out on the A/V system. I needed to know how it worked right away, because I didn’t have my presentation committed to memory. I needed to know if I could read my notes on the screen at the podium, or if I’d need to carry a sheaf of papers, or simply stand up there and look foolish. The last time I gave a presentation, flip charts were the state of the art.

Before I could do that, I found Susan Schirott. She took me under wing, stray cat that I was, and gave me the low-down on the conference.

photoSusan introduced me to the EU. I found Thunderbolts while surfing the web, became convinced for reasons too numerous to get into now and contacted Susan to pitch a guest blog. Susan gave me that opportunity and made everything else happen. I simply had to write what I learned and she handled the rest. Susan is the engine of Thunderbolts, but made time to make sure I was taken care of.

We’d had a bit of drama over adding my presentation at the last minute, including my own moments of high anxiety. Susan let me know the current status and that things were okay. She got me settled in and at ease.

The A/V system turned out to be a piece of cake and gave me all the capability to present that I could hope for, if I could just remember which buttons to push. So, unable to stand there forever pushing buttons to get used to the mechanism, I retired to the bar to relax and trust to fate.

Conference bars are where the action is, in my humble opinion. You have to see the presentations, of course. At least most of them. And you have to socialize in the halls and workshops, but the bar is where people let down their shields. I was to be here for three days, followed by the geology tour for another two days. I hardly knew anyone in the EU community. This seemed the best place to be.

My first encounter was with a young couple from the Phoenix area. Since I wore a speaker ribbon on my name tag, but few people had heard of me, I had a brief advantage. It rose people’s interest, which I need since I’m an introvert. But they didn’t know what to ask since they didn’t know what I was there to talk about. It allowed me attention and still a comfortable anonymity.

I was vague about my presentation, simply saying it had to do with geology and some electrical features. This raised the mystery. They assured me they would watch me speak. So far things were working well – two attentive listeners would be at my talk and I hardly had to do anything. They even bought my beer.

Then a bloke bounded up to our table and began hugging everyone around. I’ll call him Leo. In fact, I’m going to call everyone in this story Leo. I have to protect the innocent. More importantly, I have to protect myself.

IMG_20160621_162210Every Leo was different. Every Leo was interesting. Every Leo is my brother and sister, now, but that is getting ahead of the story. Leo came from British Columbia, Montreal, New Brunswick, Colorado, California, UK, Australia, Belarus, Germany, Tibet and at least one from another planet. Leo wore tattoos and buzz cuts; tie-dyeds and chinos; safari hats and bandanas; piercings and goatees; or in one case, a beaded, braided fu-manchu. All points on the globe, all types of people, representing a common interest in our Electric Universe.

This Leo was from the UK. UK Leo sat down and immediately ordered a beer, and I ordered a second. Little did I know at the time, UK Leo would be at the bar every time I went there. UK Leo, I recognized eventually, was a professional beer drinker.

As we got acquainted, a certain cadence set into our discussion. His thick accent was impossible to understand. So I would say, “uh huh”, when I thought he’d made a point. He would reply, “eehah, mate?” because he couldn’t understand me either. In other words, we were perfect drinking partners – the burden of making sense wasn’t on us.

IMG_20160618_040755The young couple left. I don’t think they understood UK Leo either. He and I talked nonsense through our beers and then I left to circulate. At the bar I spotted Southern Comfort Leo. Southern Comfort Leo was someone I wanted to get to know, because I’d seen him present in a video of the previous year’s EU conference. His topic had direct bearing on mine. He held court at the corner of the bar, a place only a talkative person would take.

I sidled up beside him to see if I could start a conversation (it’s not something I’m very good at). I call him Southern Comfort Leo, because when I asked where he was from, he listed every southern State he’d ever lived – which was all of them. He said he’d “been around.” Much to my surprise, starting this conversation was easy, and he bought my beer.

I still had the advantage of anonymity, so the talk centered around him and his work. I simply listened to the fascinating work he did and the kind of information he got from it. Others joined us. We held court like Norm Petersen and Cliff Claven at the corner of the bar. But as the evening wore on, the crowd dwindled until there were just four of us left. Room Mate Leo, Boorish Leo, Southern Comfort Leo and me.

20160619_215231As I found with all EU conference participants, they are fiercely independent thinkers who fear no topic. In this case, our conversation turned to God and the relative merits of belief in HIS existence. Dangerous ground for a late night at the bar.

Leo held a belief in God’s existence, while the other Leo disagreed. As it became heated, Southern Comfort Leo wisely took his leave, begging the need to rest for his morning presentation. I was to speak in the afternoon, so I stayed.

Having been raised by a devout Christian mother, I have a respect for most beliefs provided it doesn’t involve hacking heads off. So I attempted to mediate the rougher edges in the conversation, but to no avail. Boorish Leo launched into a devastating destruction of Room Mate Leo’s character flaws, which the younger Leo had guilelessly laid bare for our examination.

We finally agreed to disagree around four AM. Leo and I, being room mates dragged ourselves, shirttails hanging, to the room. The emotions scraped bare at the bar were still bleeding however. Leo and I continued to talk in the room, he giving me intimate glimpses into his troubled yet valuable life.  Valuable because he’s brilliant, curious and courageous – the earmarks of an EU scholar. Troubled because he carries baggage – we all do.

I noticed the sun was shining through a gap in the curtain. I sealed the gap before we finally gave up talking and went to sleep. I woke in time to catch Southern Leo’s talk mid-morning.

IMG_20160618_231545The conference room was a comfortable place. Dark, with a casual and attentive audience and the most interesting subjects to hear about, delivered by some of the most knowledgeable people in the world. What could be better. I lost myself in the ambience, surprisingly relaxed, without any building apprehension for my own talk that afternoon.

In fact, my talk went well. I think. Except the lights were blinding my sensitive eyes, which were only closed for an hour and a half that morning. Remember that when you watch the replays on Thunderbolts.

I did almost electrocute myself trying to drink some water with the microphone at my lips. It could have been a great display of Arc Blast – the subject of my talk, had I thought of it. I didn’t trip at the podium, or say anything stupid as far as I can remember.

Following the talks, I and my brother Richard, who was attending the conference to graciously provide moral support, and even more gratifying to me – learn more about our Electric Universe, met-up with Susan. Our timing was perfect, because she and David were heading to dinner with another speaker and an attendee who seemed to have a long association with the EU.

It was a delightful dinner. My brother, a former PR and public affairs professional, enjoyed trading anecdotes about conference organization with Dave and Susan while I stuffed my face with baked grouper. Dave Talbott is a sincere and gentle-hearted man who kept the conversation light and engaging. He suffered a dozen questions about Velikovsky and EU that he must have answered a zillion times before, but he spoke with absolute enthusiasm about the things he champions.

IMG_20160620_001027After dinner, of course, Rich and I retired to the bar, while the sensible people went about other business, like sleep. After one drink, my brother left to meet his son in Scottsdale, leaving me with the Leo’s again. It was pretty much the same crew, UK Leo, Southern Comfort Leo, Roommate Leo and me.  Many other Leos were there, too.

This night was less talk and more drinking. Those of us who were speakers had finished our talks and were ready to unwind. Everyone else was just ready. Michael Claridge-Leo strode in with an electric bicycle to show off. The evening was a hoot, everyone in cheery little clusters around the bar and outside at the pool..

unnamedThe day had been hot and it began to take its toll. People drifted away to bed, leaving only dead-enders. You know us by now. Leo and I had both shifted from beer to vodka at this point, so my recollection may be out of sequence. What I recall is that Leo began speaking gibberish.

We were having a perfectly rational conversation when he suddenly became agitated, and in perfectly articulated English said something that made absolutely no sense. It was as if Neil DeGrasse Tyson had entered his body. I hadn’t the foggiest notion what he was talking about, but it seemed urgent. Then he simply walked away.

The remainder of us carried the night to a quiet conclusion after the waiters stacking chairs refused us any more post closing drinks. We retired to our rooms, confident that, except for the hotel staff, we were the last people standing and our duty had been satisfied – to be the last people standing – somewhat stooped, but standing.

When I arrived in the room, I found Leo. Leo was passed out in the bathroom, undressed, pants around his ankles. This was not the behavior I expected from Leo. I immediately became suspicious. There was a pool of fluid on the floor. I shook him by the shoulder and called his name. He slid to the floor like a greasy snake, taking the toilet seat with him.

I won’t go into any more detail. It took a good two hours to get him to bed. There was a period of time he simply stood, incapable of moving.  Dehydration, heat stroke and vodka don’t mix. I gave him water.

Leo was only the first of the heat casualties. The sun was peaking through the blinds again when I finally laid down. The damn thing wouldn’t stay down. It was already up and blazing people into an ultraviolet-brain cooked stupor and I hadn’t had a wink of sleep yet.

Eight AM came , literally, in the blink of an eye. I met my brother and we enjoyed the talks, seeing almost every one. Incredibly, I never felt tired even though that auditorium could lure a meth addict to sleep. All of the talks were good.

20160619_215313After the banquet there was a gathering at the bar. I happened to join in. Imagine that… Leo was there, too. All of the Leos, in fact. This was the big finale. It wound down as the sun rose and it was too late, or perhaps too early…whatever, to buy beer at the Circle K. I spent my time engrossed in conversation with a charming Leo from UK, this one a female, about documentary film making.

There wasn’t much point in sleep now, since the Geology tour was leaving in less than two hours. UK Leo said he’d just wait-up. I slept until the vans were running downstairs. I had time to simply bundle my kit in a wad and run downstairs and throw it in the StRange Rover. The vans were just loading, so I ran back inside to Starbucks. I wanted to kill the person in front of me ordering a triple mocha hoopla-drip machiacappucinoamericano hand-blended smoothy with sprinkles. After what seemed like a month, I ordered my BIG coffee (I refuse to say Grande) and shuffled out to the StRange Rover and fired her up. I pulled into last place in the caravan and waited.

IMG_20160622_153117There is a mathematical rule that relates the number of people in a party to the time it takes that party to actually do anything. It is called the ‘milling factor’. The more people there are, the larger the milling factor becomes by logarithmic scale. If there are enough people, the milling factor will prevent anything from happening and the situation devolves to chaos. With well over twenty people the milling factor was enormous.

As I watched light refract through heat blistering off the hood, the StRange Rover’s vinyl dashboard disintegrated before my very eyes in the UV, X-ray and gamma radiation from the Sun. The organizer and leader of our caravan, Herr Leo, was circling the vans attempting to get people inside and strapped in.

IMG_20160623_191709Some folks refer to this as ‘herding cats’. I disagree. Cats tend to scatter and move. High milling factor creates a kind of paralysis where people just stand and stare at each other, waiting for someone else to make a move. Milling has a more bovine nature to it. My BIG coffee was almost finished when the vans actually started rolling. Now I had to pee. I held on because I wasn’t about to run inside when everyone else was finally ready, so we took off on the Geology tour.

Southern Comfort Leo joined me in the StRange Rover at the first stop. It was my first chance to pee and survey the group I was with – in that order. I noticed all of the essential Leo’s, meaning the drinking ones, were on the geology tour. We must run in crowds, I thought, mutually attracted by intense heat, miles of driving, lack of sleep and an excuse to party every night.

As I focused my bleary eyes (I don’t think Leo would have climbed in with me if he knew how much sleep I’d had in the past three days) I saw geologic features I’d written about. I was going to point them out to Southern Comfort Leo, when Leo pointed out to me what he’d been noticing. Leo in the car ahead was swerving off the road occasionally.

Why would Leo do that, I wondered. We found out a few miles later, when on a steeply diving switchback road with no shoulder, Leo in-the-car-ahead, swerved off road and punctured his tire. As it happened, he was passing-out from dehydration and heat. Apparently he came from a place where air conditioning is not a life support system.

IMG_20160616_170045He was bundled in the back of a van to re-hydrate and sleep, while someone else took over command of his car, now driving on a spare. We spent a couple of hours getting a new tire for Leo in-the-car-ahead and ended up split into two groups somewhere in Verde Valley  because of lunch preferences. We regrouped in Oak Creek Canyon, just past Sedona. Here, everyone cooled their feet in the water under the shade of cottonwoods at Oak Creek’s shore.

The heat, the fact we hadn’t made it to Meteor Crater that day, Leo in-the-car-ahead’s travails, all melted away as the group laughed and splashed in the creek. It was a fine moment. All of the Leo’s felt better. We were all Leo now. Regrouped and refreshed, the caravan drove on to Flagstaff.

As the group checked-in to the motel and got settled, Southern Comfort Leo and I walked to the bar/restaurant across the parking lot to have a cold one. UK Leo joined us next, then others drifted in. I hadn’t paid much attention, but did notice an older gentleman sitting alone drinking beer at a table in the back.

The Leos and I stood at the bar, while all the other Leo’s congregated at a table behind us. I heard a commotion and turned around to see the distinguished looking gentleman sprawled on his back. Several of our Leo’s were attending to him.

I said, “who’s that guy?” to our little group at the bar, but they paid me no attention, struggling as they were to understand each other – Southern drawl vs. UK soccer slang. I sipped my beer and surveyed the situation. The man was still prostate, being given wet towels and water. Someone was calling 911. What else could I do. I sipped my beer. “Do you guys see what’s happening behind us?” I asked. This time I broke through and they turned to look. “Why that’s Seattle Leo,” said Southern Comfort Leo.

I vaguely knew we were to meet Seattle Leo in Flagstaff. I didn’t know details though, so hadn’t connected the distinguished man at the back table with being a Leo. As the paramedics wheeled him away, I said something lame like “take care” and laid my hands over his. They were cold as ice. Our third victim of heat stroke.

One part of our group driven by Colorado Leo, or as I thought of him: the spitting image of Jeff Bridges, were eclectic Leo’s from around the world. They decided to camp-out in the National Forest instead of staying at the motel. They were a lively and entertaining bunch, so some of the motel Leo’s and I decided we’d visit their camp for a few beers.

They were camped somewhere in Coconino National Forest. Since Coconino National Forest covers approximately 1.8 million acres, I thought our prospects of finding them dubious. Nevertheless, we took two cars, bought some beer and departed Flag for the ‘campground’ they were supposedly at. They weren’t. The location was the Forest Service headquarters. No campground in sight.

This called for an unmanly admission that we didn’t know where we were going and needed directions. A cell phone was produced. I’m not sure if it was a bad connection, or if UK Leo was doing the talking. In any case the directions seemed uncertain.

We tried, but eventually gave up and parked in a dense, dark forest of Ponderosa and Spruce. I kept my eye out for bears and Sasquatch. At least we had beer and other essentials among us, and we stood in the dark and talked about magnetism, mountains and made a toast to Michael Steinbacher. A freight train roared past within a hundred yards of where we stood. It must have been a mile long and it left us feeling pumped from the noise and vibration.

I was driving, so only sipped on my beer. Still, lack of sleep had me seeing pinpoints of light in the corners of my eyes as we drove back to the motel. I followed Room mate Leo as he missed the exit and drove around the longest way conceivable to get back on track. I was almost beside myself thinking we’d entered a never ending road somewhere in the twilight zone. The Leo’s in my car had turned into bobble-heads and didn’t seem to notice we were being sucked back to Sedona, no doubt by the vortex.

I got a solid night’s sleep, rooming with Sacramento Leo. It’s usually a little strange to sleep in a room with a stranger, but in this case my head hit the pillow and didn’t lift until Leo belatedly advised me the vans were ready to roll in five minutes.

No time to shower – day three. I was beginning to stink. Well, not really. I stunk. You either stink or you don’t, there’s really no ‘beginning to’. I felt some pity for my StRange Rover-mate, Southern Comfort Leo.

IMG_20160621_162149After that first devastating day of heat, others began to notice – in addition to how bad I smelled – how I always parked in shade if I could find it, or aim the car away from the sun so the seats didn’t blister my ass when I got back in. At 120ºF, a car’s interior surfaces exposed to sun can reach 195ºF. By comparison, pork is considered safe to eat at 145ºF. I don’t comb my hair either, otherwise I’ll get a sunburned part. Tricks of the desert rat.

Our intrepid leader, Herr Leo, stepped up to a major feat of organization at meteor crater, advising us of the time to regroup. Things went smoothly until I had the sudden urge to (once again) use the bathroom at the last minute, hence I was the one who held up the group. It’s no fun walking out of a restroom, zipping up your fly, while thirty people sit in a parking lot staring at you.

I learned a lot about Michael Steinbacher on the trip. What a vagabond life he led, and how many loyal friends he had who gave him a couch, or bed, and traveled with him to rocky, windswept corners of the southwest, looking at evidence of the vast catastrophic forces that shaped our planet.

It gave me a tremendous morale boost. I recognized in the stories about Michael something I’ve found to be true for me. To truly clear the eyes of mud… to see things clearly for what they are, demands a rejection of convention.

I gave up income, home and stability to find the Electric Universe. Hanging on to what people expect of you will keep you locked into their paradigm forever. All notion that theoretical science explains anything at all had to be discarded and understood as a gross misinterpretation of the physics that govern our universe. I had to disconnect to see that.

IMG_20160621_180037Michael understood and looked at landscape in a way no one else had really captured. His inspirations inspired many more. We came to spread his ashes at the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon. Herr Leo had selected Geology Point as an appropriate place. It was.

Being a generally agnostic group to begin with, and knowing Michael was too, there was not much in the way of spiritual context. Herr Leo and a couple of the female Leo’s took a moment to reflect on Michael’s influence in their lives and his appreciation for truth.

Truth does exist. We could see it with our own eyes in the canyon. The obvious carving of scalloped edges in the ninety degree, boxed side canyon we stood above spoke more to the validity of Michael’s interpretation of geology than anything anyone could have said.

IMG_20160621_162404I spoke with Michael’s friends about the formation of the Grand Canyon. I agree with Michael’s assessment, in general. The canyon was carved by an explosive current locked to the river’s channel. I’d looked into, and written about breccia pipes; karst-like formations of broken rock that fill vertical tunnels emanating from a limestone formation above the inner gorge. These breccia pipes emerge from the ground all over the south rim, concentrated along the rim and even split open in places along the canyon wall.

My belief is these were the result of current flows from the inner gorge that blasted out the stubby, 90 degree angled side canyons by coursing through the limestone aquifer and up through the crust, forming the breccia pipes. Everything I saw standing over Geology Point confirmed my intuition, and Michael’s hypothesis, which I think conforms with mine. It made me feel good we laid his ashes there.

The canyon left me uplifted, but feeling small, knowing how few are the people who even fathom what we could see.

Herr Leo took the caravan speeding down an empty two lane road to Utah, past miles of open country I wanted to walk through. Shallow canyon fingers dipped right away from the roadside, to disappear into dark cavernous gorges that led a mile deep to the Colorado. How were they formed – not by water erosion. There is no evidence of water erosion on the walls of the Grand Canyon  – anywhere, except the very lowest reaches of the inner gorge – the only place the river has ever flowed.

The only evidence given for water erosion creating the canyon is that there is a canyon there. Ergo, typical mainstream circular logic says it must have been carved by water. It ain’t evident in the rocks though. A fact neatly and blithely ignored by geologists.

IMG_20160621_180406We crossed the Little Colorado and skirted the Navajo Nation, heading north. At Cameron, Arizona we stopped for lunch. It made sense, since one of our Leo’s was named Cameran-Leo; wrong spelling, but close enough to earn a sandwich. This was also where I departed, leaving to drive home to Tucson through the best part of Arizona, Highway 191. I’ll tell about that in a moment.

I hate goodbyes. This one didn’t hurt though. I knew I would be seeing these Leo’s again.

Every Leo hugged me. There wasn’t a single hand shake, or fist bump. Just hugs. It was a striking moment for me, when Sacramento Leo gave me a memento from Michael. Something Michael raised on his own, infused with his love of life and our world.  I fired it up as I drove alone to Kayenta.

IMG_20160621_162354As the StRange Rover hummed along, the sun began to set on a landscape I could only imagine had been etched. Magnificent undulating, layered and cap-rocked dunes scalloped and gouged around the edges. A different electrical scarring than I’d been studying. Something to look into in the future.

plasma-rock-artNear Kayenta is where Dave Talbott’s photo of a petroglyph was taken. The one Tony Perratt identified as a plasma instability – rock hard evidence of an aurora in the ancient sky that our ancestors witnessed. I marveled to myself that his paper had been published over a decade ago and so few people had even noticed. Yet it gave up so much truth. It was the very thing that had brought me to look into EU.

As I drove through Tsegi, I looked into the canyon. Tsegi Canyon holds deep mystery for me. This is where the Kayenta Anasazi – the Pueblo people of Northern Arizona spent their final days in cliff dwellings, before, in sudden diaspora they fled to Mexico. Something like the Exodus.

What happened? Why did they live in the cliffs? Mainstream theories of drought and infertile crops is simply a weak and unintelligent answer to the true plight of the Pueblo people of the Four Corners area. Scientists blame everything on climate change now – that’s the paradigm. Something else happened to the Pueblo in 1100 to 1300 AD, when after living in the open for centuries, they turned to living under rocks before simply leaving the area, en masse.

Shooting-StarThey were either hiding from something from above, or below – lightning perhaps, or a swarm of hungry bigfoot (cannibal demons in the native Hopi) come down from the San Juan’s. I don’t know which yet, but I’m going to Tsegi some day to figure it out and write a novel about it.

As I looked into the deep reaches of the canyon, the setting sun shone through, framed by the vertical, black canyon walls and sheets of illuminated virga hanging from the clouds above.

It was damned ominous looking, but spectacular. A few miles beyond Kayenta, there is a mountain feature visible from the road I had used an image of in my presentation. I knew it was there and hoped to see it under the full moon. I couldn’t see it though, because storm clouds blocked the light. Too bad.

I continued non-stop through Navajo lands because I had to. There are no Motel 6’s on the Res. Nor is there any alcohol. Two reasons to keep driving. As I drove South from Four Corners past Canyon De Chelly, the StRange Rover rolled over giant fingers of the Chuska mountains that stretched across the desert. In the sky, the clouds made giant feathered strokes of lichtenberg figures. I knew the land under my feet looked the same, and it was no coincidence.

IMG_20160616_110744After a night in a cheap motel along I-40, where I closed thick drapes and slept late, I departed on my final day. This I knew would be an epic drive. Highway 191 (renamed because Highway 666 seemed to disturb some people) runs down the eastern edge of the State. It is an age-old corridor for migration and trade. The Anasazi traded with the Aztecs along this route. It led to the region’s giant center of trade, Chaco Canyon. The Puebloans retreated on this route during the diaspora.

It was used by Coronado and the conquistadors, when they came as the first tourists to the Grand Canyon. Renegades and outlaws used this trail in the days of Apache wars and stage coach robberies.

perattinstability
Squatter Man

It climbs into the White Mountains through lava fields and hills that appear like huge, low windblown dunes. Near St. John there is a lake right off of the highway, named Lyman Lake. I turned in to look at the State Park campsites and take a break. As I drove in a sign pointed to a road that said “Petroglyph Trail.” I made the turn and parked at the trail head.

It led into some small hills on a peninsula in the lake. The hills have  a cap rock that is black with patina on the top surface. Broken blocks of it are scattered down the hillsides. On these I found a perfect ‘squatter man’ pecked into a flat, patina covered block.

I also noticed the patina appeared to be burnt onto the rock’s surface. There were marks of hot ablation, as if a sheet of flame had seared the cap rock from above. I wondered if it was a thing people had witnessed. Perhaps that is why they chose this place to commemorate the auroras that surely would have preceded such a flash.

220px-Lightnings_sequence_2_animationA few miles further up the road, I passed volcanic cinder cones and rode over vast lava flows. On the lava flows, lightning began to strike. It flashed with an almost constant frequency, close enough to hear the peel of thunder, but far enough to enjoy the show. I pulled to the side on a hill and lowered my tailgate to watch – the reason I drive the StRange Rover is it has a classic drop-down tailgate – essential for such moments. I also celebrated Michael’s green thumb again as I watched the lightning strike and listened to the thunder. It was a fitting spectacle to end the journey and my formal introduction to the Electric Universe.

Thanks to Leo’s gift of Michael’s homegrown, I missed my turn in Springerville, and drove fifteen miles into New Mexico on Highway 60 before I realized I was going downhill when I should be going up. Things were going too well, I suppose. Where I turned around was a dirt road to Luna, New Mexico. I was in a curious feature of land I had spotted on Google Earth before. The dramatic sweep of land before me was a shallow valley, closed in by windswept dunes of sandstone. The name Luna was appropriate. This trip just kept giving surprises. I didn’t take the road, but committed to coming back, to Luna, to the Leo’s and to uncovering the simple majesty of our Electric Universe.

StRange Rover Leo.

DSC_8720Update: Leo is now engaged to Leo. I have confirmation, so feel free to announce it. And I thought I was having fun…apparently not as much as those two.

The Haunting Mystery of Dyatlov Pass – Part One

The Dyatlov Pass Incident – a grim, yet tantalizing true mystery.

Semen Zolotorev pushed his face into the howling wind. Spindrift stung as he crawled out of the tent, standing as he cleared the flap.

“Close it,” he heard Lyudmila’s muffled shout.

“Ya,” he mumbled, as he pushed fabric into her reaching hand. She tied it shut, cutting out the dim light from within. He turned the flashlight on, found his way to the edge of the snow platform, and began the process of undoing three pairs of pants. He had to pee.

It took him some time, undoing the ski pants, then the second and third pair beneath. The temperature was -15°C, but shit, the wind! The soft leather burkas on his feet were getting covered in wet snow. He wanted to do this quick.

dyat trees
The scene from Kholat Syakhl.

He looked across the snowfield – the snow swirled and raced across the slope, hugging ground until catching and drifting against scrubby trees a few hundred meters below. He’d been watching those trees earlier.

His spine shivered with the cold. To his bladder, he said, “Ughh, come on, let go before we get frostbitten.” He felt strangely uneasy, but managed to make a stream. He enlarged the steaming hole, swinging his hips to widen it.

Something caught his eye – a dark motion in the trees. He turned to look directly at it, and saw nothing but trees in the wind.

The trees were sparse, dwarf pines growing along a drainage to the forest below. They were 200 meters away across an empty snowfield on the flank of Kholat Syakhl – the “Mountain of Dead” as the local Mansi tribesmen called it. The Mansi tried to persuade them not to come here.

On that day, Semen began thinking they were right. He saw a dark object move in the trees. Did I see that? he thought. He peered into the gloom, straining to see movement against the white gleam of snow at the tree-line.

“Huk,” his breath hitched as he saw something move against the wind. He turned off the flashlight. It’s beam only reflected blowing snow. “I see it.” He ran back to the tent, dropping the flashlight and pushed at the flap, bowing it inward until he found the tie and yanked it loose. He flipped it away and dove inside in one fluid motion.

dyatskis
Dyatlov Party on their final day of the trek.

“Hey, you Cossack. don’t run me over.” Lyudmila squeeled, closing the flap behind him and buttoning it against the wind.

“It’s out there!”

“What? Did you leave a turd?” asked Yuri.

“I saw it in the trees. I told you! It’s watching us,” Semen sat and stared at his eight comrades. His face was white.

“What did you see, Sacha?” asked Igor Dyatlov, the expedition leader. He used Semen’s nickname. Semen never liked his given name – “You know what that means in English?” he’d say.

“Yarwoooooooow”…a howl rose above the scream of the wind, trailed off, and then…”Yaaaaghhhh,” a gut-churning growl seemed to vibrate the tent.

Digging the platform to pitch the tent.

“Sacha, what was that,” asked Zina.

“I told you, it’s out there,” is all he said.

“I don’t believe it,” said Aleksi. “That was wind. Stop joking with us, Sascha.”

“It’s out there. You just heard it,” Semen said.

“What do we do?” said Zina.

Semen was digging in his backpack. He brought out a camera.

“Are you going back out?” asked Rustem. “Where is my camera – I want to see.”

“Don’t go out,” said Igor. “Did you really see it, Sascha? Are you sure?”

“You just heard it didn’t you? It’s down the hill in the trees.”

“What? It’s coming at us?”

“No, it’s down in the trees,” Semen pointed towards the pass they had traveled that afternoon.

dyattentbefore
The tent earlier in the trip.

“The sound came from above.”

“That’s what I heard, too. It came from above us.”

“Yaaaaaghh!”

“No, it’s that way. It’s getting closer.”

“Yaaaaaghh!”

“How many are there?”

“Yaaaaaghh!”

“Don’t open the tent.”

“Yaaaaaghh!”

“We need to see.”

“Cut a slit above your head.”

“I’m making a slit too. I hear something over this way…”

Of course, no one really knows what they said to each other. No one really knows what happened.
igordyatlov4
Igor Dyatlov – expedition leader.

The date is February 2, 1959. The place is a mountain-side overlooking a wooded valley that will come to be known as Dyatlov Pass. The party, nine trekkers led by 24 year old Igor Dyatlov, are four days into a ski trip to Mount Otorten, deep in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Camped on the snow-blown slopes of the neighboring peak, Kholat Syakhl, they intend to reach their goal on the following day. That day never comes for these nine trekkers. As Rod Serling would say – they had entered the Twilight Zone.

The story of the Dyatlov Pass incident was not widely known outside of Russia until the 1990’s. The Soviets didn’t allow information to escape to the dyatparty2west unfiltered, and there was no way to filter this story to make it look good. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of records, it is now widely known as the most disturbing and haunting mystery of modern times.

dyatlovparty5At first look, the story is uncomfortable. The nine healthy, young and experienced explorers left the safety and warmth of their tent and belongings, even their shoes, on a moonless, stormy night where temperatures are believed to have reached -18°C (-4°F) with a 20 to 30 knot wind. They then traveled a mile into the forest only to die of exposure and horrific injuries.

Avalanche is the rational culprit according to many. Why else would they abandon the tent in such a hurry without shoes. How else would the rib cages and skulls of three of them suffer blunt trauma, likened by the coroner to the energy of a high speed car impact. But searchers found virtually no physical evidence of an avalanche. What they did find only puzzled them more. In fact, each piece of evidence only added layers of mystery. The events that caused their deaths have become the focus of many theories, books, movies and documentaries.

The dramatization in this article is one possibility.

On February 26, a search party found the tent. Footprint evidence still remained of eight, or nine individuals leading from the tent down the slope in a more, or less, orderly trail. The searchers did not take care to preserve the scene properly, not yet realizing it was the scene of horrific tragedy – perhaps even murder.

dyatlov footprints1
The footprints of the Dyatlov group leaving the tent. Their feet compressed the snow and subsequent winds left the prints in bas-relief.

The footprints ended five hundred meters from the tent, the snow and wind having covered them beyond that point. The searchers saw no other footprints on the snowfield.

Two searchers looking for a place to camp near the treeline approached a promising clearing near a large cedar, where they would have a clear view of the tent above and the surrounding slopes. Under the cedar, they found another camp – occupied by two of the trekkers.

They were frozen stiff, laid side-by-side, wearing only underwear and no shoes.

Searchers using metal poles to probe the snow found two more bodies, between the cedar camp and the tent, as if these victims had died attempting to get back to the tent.

Another body was found between the two returning to the tent. Examination showed he had a cracked skull, but the injury wasn’t deemed fatal. It was determined all five of the trekkers died of hypothermia – frozen to death. This one must have fallen at some point, or been hit by something.

A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on Feb. 26, 1959. The tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks or barefoot. Photo taken by soviet authorities at the camp of the Dyatlov Pass incident and anexed to the legal inquest that investigated the deaths.
The tent as rescuers found it on Feb. 26, 1959. It had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks.

The situation looked fairly obvious at first. The trekkers must have been buried by an avalanche – or heard one coming – and cut their way free of the tent to seek shelter in the trees. Because of the freezing temperatures, and the fact their cold weather gear was left in the collapsed tent, they quickly succumbed to the elements, unable to return to the tent on their frozen feet.

But if an avalanche hit them, why were their footprints still visible leading down the hill. Why was the tent still partially standing. Why were tent stakes and ski poles still standing, and the tent fabric – torn and collapsed – only covered with a small amount of snow. Why did they run straight downhill in the obvious path of any avalanche they were escaping. Why didn’t they run across slope to escape, as anyone experienced with avalanche knows. Why did they even camp so high on the mountain, instead of in the trees a mile away where there was shelter from the wind. Why did they keep walking a mile with no shoes, which likely took twenty, to thirty minutes under the conditions they were in. Avalanches happen in a few minutes, why did they go so far before attempting to go back to the tent. These questions must have begun to concern the searchers. And there were still four more trekkers to find. Where did they go?

The search expanded. Helicopters and government officials came to replace the volunteer search party. Two months passed and the weather warmed. On May 4, snow melt exposed a piece of fabric in a ravine, 75 meters from the cedar tree. The searchers brought in shovels.

Thirteen feet down in the ravine, under twelve feet of snow, the four missing bodies were found. The autopsy of these individuals turned the investigation on its ear.

They had built a small den in the ravine to get out of the wind, with a cedar platform to keep them off the snow. There were even patches of clothing to sit on. But they weren’t found on the platform. The bodies were huddled together, several feet away. Only one died of exposure, like his five comrades found earlier. The other three died a different way. Two had crushed ribs and one a crushed head. These injuries were fatal and appeared to have occurred in the ravine.

Surely an avalanche might have done this. Many believe that to this day. But to many, the evidence just doesn’t fit that theory. The evidence suggests a more gruesome scene.

If an avalanche hit their tent while they were inside, as they relaxed after their evening meal, the impact of the snow could have crushed three of the party, leaving the others to dig out and save them. But if that occurred, why would they leave shoes and heavy ski jackets behind. Surely, after the avalanche was over, they needed warm clothes.

Perhaps they heard another avalanche coming – or thought they did – and rushed away to safety. But how, if three of them had suffered fatal injury, were they able to walk away? Eight footprints were found, and likely a ninth, leading from the tent in an orderly file. Some prints deviated from the path, but rejoined. They could have carried one party, perhaps piggyback, but there were still eight of them able to walk.

The investigation indicates it is unlikely they were injured in an avalanche. What follows is a description of the victims, how they were found and the causes of death. The descriptions and photos are horrific, so put your spooky hat on.

Igor Dyatlov, 22

Äÿòëîâ ÈãîðüExpedition leader, experienced trekker and athlete. Igor studied Radio Engineering at the UPI University in Sverdlovsk. He designed the small stove that was used to heat the tent used on the trek. Igor was respected as a leader: thoughtful, methodical and well organized. He courted Zina Kolmogorova, another member of the trek.

Dyatloff_Igor
The autopsy indicated Igor died on his stomach.

Igor was the third to be found. He wore a fur coat unbuttoned, a sweater, long sleeved shirt and ski pants over inner pants. He had only one pair of socks, woolen on the right and cotton on the left. No shoes. He carried a pocket knife and a photo of Zina Kolmogorova with him.

He was found 300 meters from the cedar, apparently on his way to the tent when he died of exposure. This photo shows his corpse as it was found, after the snow was removed. The autopsy indicates he died face down. There is no explanation why they found him on his back.

Georgyi Krivonishenko, 24

Dyatloff_group_115_Kriv[1]Graduated from UPI University in 1959, Krivonishenko was one of two bodies first found under the cedar tree. He was dressed in a shirt, long sleeved shirt, swimming pants, pants and a torn sock on his left foot. No shoes.

dyatdeadcedar2
Doroshenko (left) and Krivonishenko.

He lay beneath the cedar next to Yuri Doroshenko. A camp fire was next to them that they apparently had trouble keeping lit in the wind.

The cedar itself had been climbed. Branches were broken-off fifteen feet high in the tree. Whether this was to supply firewood, or some other reason isn’t clear. Searchers reported there was adequate firewood on the ground.

Investigators noted the pattern of high broken branches appeared on one side of the tree, as if someone had broken them to clear a view to the tent.

Yuri Doroshenko, 21
cedar
The cedar tree camp.

Dyatloff_group_115_Dor[1]The other body under the cedar, Doroshenko was a student of the UPI university. He once dated Zina Kolmogorova and remained good friends with her and Igor Dyatlov.

Doroshenko was found in a short sleeve shirt, vest, knit pants and shorts over pants. His pants were badly ripped with one large hole on the right and a smaller on the left. Pants had tears on the inside of the thighs. On his feet he had a pair of wool socks. The left sock was burned. He wore no shoes.

Because of some of his injuries, it is thought he was the tree climber, although others may have climbed it too. The tree had traces of blood and skin embedded in the bark. Residue of foamy grey fluid around his mouth led some investigators to speculate his chest had been compressed before death, which could have been the result of a fall. They did not conclude it  contributed to his death, however. The cause of his death was hypothermia.

Both Doroshenko and Krivonishenko died of exposure. It is believed they were the first to die, because their bodies were still at the cedar tree, where it is believed they all congregated after leaving the tent. Others had removed some of their clothes and left to either attempt a return to the tent, or shelter in the ravine.

Zinaida Kolmogorova, 22
dyatdeadzina
Zina got farthest from the cedar tree trying to reach the tent.

Zina KolmogorovaA student at the UPI University as a Radio Engineering Major, Zina was a tough, experienced hiker. Some speculate her relationships with the men may have caused a problem that led to the incident. There is no evidence to support this speculation and every evidence they were a level-headed group that got on well together.

Better dressed than the bodies beneath the tree, she wore two hats, long sleeved shirt, sweater, another shirt and sweater with torn cuffs. Plus trousers, cotton athletic pants, ski pants, a military mask and three pairs of socks. No shoes.

Zina got closer to the tent than anyone else. She was found 630 meters from the cedar – a third of the way back to the tent. Among minor injuries, she had a bruise that encircled her torso on the right side. Her cause of death was declared hypothermia due to violent accident.

Rustem Slobodin, 23
dyatdeadrustem?
Rustem’s body was warm enough to melt the snow beneath where he fell.

Dyatloff_group_115_Sl[1]Graduated from the UPI University in 1959, Slobodin was known as very athletic, honest and decent. He played a mandolin that he brought on the trek and left cached at a supply depot for the return trip. The group often sang to his mandolin.

Rustem wore a long sleeve shirt, another shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks. Unlike the others, he wore one boot on his right foot. His pockets had 310 rubles, a passport, a knife, pen, pencil, comb, match box and single sock.

He was the third trekker found making his way back to the tent, 480 meters from the cedar. He suffered a blunt trauma head injury, with a fracture to the side, frontal bones of his skull and hemorrhaging. Examiners deemed it non-lethal, however severe enough to cause loss of coordination due to initial shock following the blow. They determined he died of exposure aggravated by violent injury. Beneath Rustem, the ice had melted and refroze, indicting he was still warm when he fell. The other bodies did not exhibit this. Perhaps they never fell, crawling may have been the only way to move with frozen feet. Rustem at least had one boot.

Lyudmila Dubinina, 21
dyatlovdeaddubrina1
Lyudmila as found at the bottom of the ravine. Snow melt courses beneath her body.

0_50713_afe7198b_M[1]A third year student in Engineering and Economics at the UPI University, Lyudmila took many of the trip pictures and recorded events in their journal. Once, she was accidentally shot during an expedition by another trekker cleaning a rifle, and endured the painful injury well. She was known to be very outspoken.

Lyudmila wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, two sweaters, underwear, long socks and two pairs of pants. The outer pair was badly burned and subsequently ripped. She also wore a hat and two pairs of warm socks and a third sock not paired. She had a piece of Krivonishenko’s pants that were cut away from his body. She’d wrapped a piece around one foot, another piece was found in the snow.

Her injuries included four ribs broken on the right side with two fracture lines visible and a massive hemorrhage in the right atrium of her heart. On the left, six ribs were broken, also with two fracture lines.

Semen Zolotarev, 38
dyatded6
Kolevatov (top) and Zolotarev.

simon-zolotarev He was the oldest and somewhat of an outsider to the group. He was a ski instructor who joined the expedition to gain  performance points to achieve promotion to the rank of “Master” instructor. Born a Cossack, he distinguished himself in the brutal conditions of the Great Patriotic War a decade earlier. His real name was Semen, while everyone called him “Sasha,” or “Alexander”. No one knows why he chose to introduce himself by a different name.

The body of Semen Zolotarev was found with two hats, scarf, long sleeve shirt, black sweater and a coat with two upper buttons undone. The lower part of the body was protected by underwear, two pairs of pants and a pair of ski pants. He had a copy of newspapers, several coins, compass, and a few other items. His feet were protected by a pair of socks and a pair of warm leather handmade shoes known as “burka”. Zolotarev had a camera around his neck.

Zolotarev had five ribs broken along two fracture lines and the ribs detached from the chest wall. An open wound on the right side of his head exposed part of his skull. The chest injuries were fatal.

Aleksander Kolevatov, 25
dyatdead
Dubinina (top) and Thibeaux-Brignolle.

Dyatloff_group_115_Kolev[1]An experienced outdoorsman and scientist, Kolevatov was studying for a Major in Physics at the Sverdlovsk UPI institute and had already completed Mining and Metallurgy College. Known as a good student, he’d lived in Moscow working at the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, and later was engaged in producing materials for the nuclear industry. In 1956 he moved back to Sverdlovsk to study physics at the UPI Institute. He was respected as a leader, organized, methodical and diligent.

Medical examination found a deformed neck and an open wound behind the ear. His death was determined to be hypothermia.

Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, 25
dyatdeadravine
As they were found in the ravine.

i_010[1]Graduated in 1958, Nicolai majored in Civil Engineering at the UPI University. He was the son of a French Communist executed during the Stalin years and was born in a concentration camp for political prisoners. He was known as a friendly, caring and open person who often set aside his own comfort for the benefit of others.

Thibeaux-Brignolle had multiple fractures to the temporal bone of the skull, radiating to surrounding bone. He died from the wound.

Yuri Yudin

The tenth member of the Dyatlov party and the only survivor, Yudin was a student of UPI. Yuri left the expedition on January 28, before the tragedy struck due to medical reasons. He passed away on April 27th, 2013. He maintained an enduring curiosity for what caused his friends death throughout his life.

Timeline of the tragedy

Examiners used estimates of travel time, life expectancy after injuries, time for survival in the extreme cold, and the remains of undigested food in their stomachs to construct a probable timeline of events. The evidence indicates they died within six to eight hours after their last meal. Exposure at those temperatures can kill in three to six hours.

4 P.M., February 1 – Party arrives on the slopes of Kyolat Syakhl. They set camp high on the snowfield away from the tree-line, as recorded by photograph. Why they camped there is unknown, but Yuri Yudin, the tenth member of the party who had earlier turned back, believed they decided to camp there to either gain the experience of a high camp, or because they were reluctant to loose altitude they would have to re-climb the following day.

6 to 7 P.M. – Group prepared and ate a meal.

7 to 10 P.M. – Group relaxed in the tent with boots off and in various stages of undress. The implication is nothing was out of the ordinary at this time. The weather was believed to be -18°C at this time in the evening, and windy. At some point, someone urinated outside near the tent.

10:00 to 11:00 P.M. – The group, in various states of undress, used knives to cut through the sides of the tent and flee downhill to the forest. Tracks indicate the group was scattered at first, but came back together part way down the slope.

11:00 P.M. to 1:00 A.M. – The group hides under a large cedar tree inside the edge of the forest approximately one mile from the tent. They light a fire and remain for possibly two hours trying to keep warm.  Various burns on clothing, skin and hair imply they crowded the fire for warmth and probably to shield it from the wind. The fire is situated behind the tree relative to the tent. Broken branches in the cedar suggest at least one of the team climbed it to view the tent on the slopes above.

12:00 to 1:00 A.M., February 2 – Two group members, Krivonischenko and Doroshenko die from cold exposure.

Three members of the team try and return to the tent. Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin, already suffering hypothermia, fail to make it and collapse at various intervals. They are found separately at 985, 1,575 and 2,065 feet from the tree.

The four still alive take the clothes from the dead bodies of their comrades. Dubinina wraps her feet in trousers cut away from Krivonischenko’s body.

12:30 to 1:30 A.M. – Four of the skiers move 75 meters away to a ravine where they huddle together. Nicolas dies of head wounds. Dubinina dies from chest injuries and hypothermia. Alexander Zolotarev takes her coat and hat to keep himself warm.

12:45 to 1:45 A.M. – Zolotarev dies from a combination of chest injuries and hypothermia.

1:30 to 2:45 A.M. – Alexander Kolevatov, frozen and alone, dies of hypothermia.

If it could be determined an avalanche killed them, we wouldn’t have a mystery.

This is the puzzle for the avalanche theorists – the mortal injuries to Dubinina, Zolotorev and Thibeaux-Brignolle. If they were injured in the tent in an avalanche, it is highly unlikely they could have trudged a mile in snow with no shoes to the tree, and later to the ravine, apparently outliving members of the group who were not severely injured. The footprints say they walked away from the tent. There was no evidence of dragging, or anyone being carried.

dyatavalanche
Examination of the topology shows little chance an avalanche hit the tent. If it did, it could only have hit a glancing blow.

There was no evidence of an avalanche at the tent, either. No flow patterns, or debris from an avalanche were found. The slope angle was 23° where they pitched it, rising to 30° above and considerably shallower below. The location is not conducive to a snow build-up likely to avalanche according to terrain analysis, and even if it had, an avalanche would have missed the tent. No subsequent expeditions to the area have ever witnessed avalanche conditions at the site.

They built a platform, clearly seen in the photo shown, that left a protective cleft to shield them from snow slide – they were experienced at what they were doing. Tent poles and ski poles were found standing, with a small amount of snow not fully covering the tent.

Some have suggested an avalanche hit them after they left the tent, sweeping the four into the ravine. Such an avalanche would have also swept the other five bodies and damaged trees, for which no evidence was found. The other bodies were found with only a layer of atmospheric snow on them.

The ravine was surrounded by trees and relatively flat ground. The trees and brush at the ravine showed no evidence of avalanche.

Another theory holds they ran headlong into the ravine and broke their bones in the fall. The ravine was measured at 10, to 17 feet deep in the vicinity where the bodies were found. The slope into the ravine was at a thirty, to forty degree angle and the ravine measured 130 feet across.

dyatlov-pass-ravine
The ravine.

The coroner concluded Thibeaux-Brignolle’s head injury to be consistent with impacting a rock as a result of a fall from a height of 6 to 10 feet, but not more. Any greater height should have broken the apex of the skull and Thibeaux-Brignolle had no apex damage. Hemorrhaging suggests that he was alive when he sustained the injury.

The broken ribs of Dubinina and Zolotorev were very similar in pattern and impact energy, as if the target of similar blows.  There was little, or no external damage to tissue. Extremities most exposed to fracture in a fall, or avalanche, such as hands, arms, legs, or collar bones, were not broken.

Another speculation is the bones were perhaps fractured less severely and the weight of later snow finished the crushing as it accumulated over time. Medical examiners found the wounds to be complete before death, however. The damage was done while they were alive.

There was no physical evidence of an avalanche at the tent, or at the ravine, or having hit them in between. A fall into the ravine could have caused the injuries, but it is difficult to imagine a fall such as this. Three of four people tumbling down a forty degree slope, or breaking through ice into the ravine below is certainly possible, but the pattern of injuries is odd. Two of them suffering very similar impacts to the ribs at the sides of the chest, and one impacted on the side of the head. Three simultaneous mortal injuries from a fall that left no related external injury, or broken limbs.

In Part 2 we will examine more strangeness: more injuries and evidence, more circumstances and theories, more pictures and some journal entries – and the dramatization will continue.

Thank you.

My Encounter

forest_by_YassmineLocation: Sespe Wilderness Area of Los Padres National Forest; GPS coordinates 34 deg, 32’.36” North; 118 deg, 52’.42” West

Nearest Town: Fillmore, California

Time: Spring, 2004

Event: Bigfoot Encounter


The Sespe is the longest remaining undammed river in California. It’s also home to the endangered California Condor. The condor’s Sanctuary lies within the Sespe Wilderness Area, which lies within Los Padres National Forest.

Sespe_Wilderness_in_the_Los_Padres_National_ForestAlthough the Wilderness lies at the edge of modern civilization – the coastal mountains it protects stretch from Los Angeles to Monterey – it is the fourth largest acreage of roadless Wilderness Area in the lower 48 states. Within the Wilderness Area, no roads, or vehicles are allowed. Within the Sanctuary, additional protections apply for the condors. It’s one of the most protected pieces of land on the planet.

Fillmore sits at the edge of the National Forest, at the mouth of Sespe Canyon. East of town, a rugged forest road leads 20 miles to a place called Doughnut Flat. At Doughnut Flat, the road ends on the edge of the Wilderness Area, and it’s the beginning of the Alder Trail. There were no other cars at the trail-head when I arrived.

At the time, I lived in Fillmore. This is an area I’d been to before, since it’s almost my old backyard. From Doughnut Flat, Alder trail follows a meandering creek at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, before it drops down a steep canyon to join with a longer trail that follows the upper reaches of the river.

Sespe_Wilderness_Topography_4A mile in, the trail passes a cluster of trees. A big oak in the center has a campsite beneath. I hiked alone this day, and didn’t intend to go far, carrying only water and a walking stick. I stopped to survey the campsite thinking I might one day bring the kids, since it’s such an easy hike from the car.

I was disappointed to find the site trashy with beer cans and broken glass – being a mile from the trail-head, it evidently got heavy use.

As I poked around beneath the oaks, I heard heavy steps, and glimpsed the knee and lower leg of a man bolting from a brush-filled ravine not twenty yards away.

The knee and leg thrust forward in a run. The foot was obscured by grass, and the body was obscured by the branches of the tree I stood beneath. The leg was a uniform, dark grey color. I saw no cuff, or sock, or other feature, and he was gone up the canyon before I could think to move.

This disturbed me. He apparently bolted because I was there. Why was he hiding? I concluded the man must have an illegal camp, or pot growing back in the canyon – up to something he didn’t want known.  I immediately gathered my things and left, hiking to my truck.

ManzanaI returned a week later. Again, by myself, thinking whoever lurked in that canyon ought to be gone. I wanted to survey the situation – like I said, this is a trail I used a lot, a place I wanted to bring the kids. I might add, I am always very aware in the wild, especially by myself. But on this occasion, I half expected to run into someone, so was particularly aware. That’s one reason my memory is clear.

I walked beyond the trees to where I saw the man run and found a path. The path led up the shallow canyon towards an unusual blue-gray cut in the mountain that looked like a small mining operation from a time in the past. I found an old fallen windmill near the cut, and some rusted sections of a water tank confirming my suspicion.

I found no campsite, or trash, or other evidence of recent activity. I explored the artifacts and then continued up the draw, which led to a shallow saddle on a ridge. I had to scrabble up a rocky cleft to gain the ridge.

When I topped the ridge, I looked down into a lush green pocket valley, enclosed by cliffs on the opposite side; and on my side, a sandy slope covered in Manzanita. This verdant valley looked untouched and inviting – I could see no roads, or trails. The slope into it was bowl-like and negotiable, so I continued on, skirting the hillside looking for the best way down.

The path ended at the ridge, so I continued on game trails that wove through the chaparral. The Manzanita grew five feet tall, spaced such that I could wend my way through it, but not in a straight line. I could see over the top, but I couldn’t see through. The day was calm, clear, sunny and warm. I’d worked-up a good sweat climbing the ridge, hearing nothing but the sound of my own heavy breathing.

IMG_0581“EEAAAAAAHHHH” – a shriek filled the valley – I stopped in my tracks. The sound came from below, and was directed right at me. So sudden, so loud, and so…unknown was this sound that it startled me witless.

It’s perplexing to hear something you can’t identify – especially in the wild, without warning, where there shouldn’t be such a sound.

No living thing I know in those woods could make that ripping scream; no lion, bobcat, or condor could have carried that volume, or pitch. What entered my mind was T-Rex … from “Jurassic Park.”

The shriek gave me chills, but I knew there had to be a rational answer. My mind ticked through possibilities and came up with the best similarity – there must be heavy equipment in the canyon. Only the screech of metal-on-metal made any sense. I imagined a giant, rusty gate hinge. Only it wasn’t quite like that.

I listened for other sounds. I looked. Nothing moved. There was no sound, or sight of anything – nothing but a pristine valley overgrown with oak and pine along the narrow stream below. There were not supposed to be machines in the Wilderness Area.

The sound didn’t waft up to me, bouncing and distorting off the canyon walls. It hit my face, so to speak, like standing in front of a loudspeaker. Nevertheless, I rationalized the sound must have come from somewhere around a dog-leg in the canyon where I could not see. If I could see down there, I was sure there would be a backhoe, or bulldozer doing heavy work.

I continued across the slope to a rise that promised a view past the dog-leg. As I topped the rise the ground became steep and sandy and I had to dig in my boots to get a stance, which occupied my attention. When I looked – I had a perfect view. I saw the entire length past the dog-leg and the slopes all around. There was nothing there.

I stood for only a moment surveying the scene. Not a fly buzzed it was so still. And then a feeling came over me – I did not belong there.

IMG_0023This was far more than a feeling of being watched, or a case of heebie-jeebies – I’ve had those before. Some thing didn’t want me there. I struggled with this feeling – trying to swallow it. It made no sense, but it kept building almost to a feeling of panic. I turned and retraced my steps towards the ridge.

As I neared the ridge, I heard what sounded like footfalls behind me, in time with my own. I told myself it was my imagination, until I stopped at the ridge top, where I had to climb down the cleft, and I heard one more footfall that wasn’t mine.

I hurtled down the cleft in two bounds, and ran a good fifty yards. Then I heard another sound. It came from the ridge. I turned, thinking I would see whatever was coming down the cleft. There was nothing, except one branch swaying among some brush below the cleft. Just one branch.

I turned and made double time all the way to the Land Rover, roughly three miles, got in and locked the doors. Even inside, with the doors locked, I had the willies driving down the long road.

About five miles from Doughnut Flat, outside the wilderness area at a considerably lower elevation, there is an oilfield with active drilling and production work. As I passed through this area, I thought, what I heard was oil-field equipment. They must be drilling near the Wilderness close to where I was. Convinced I’d found the answer, I forgot about the incident … for ten years.

BF2I am not prone to apprehension in the wilderness. I generally feel quite safe and competent on my own. I’ve spent many days and nights backpacking alone in remote areas, including several trips in this Wilderness. I have experienced weird feelings, like being watched, or that a place feels spooky on occasion. It isn’t unusual in lonely, remote places where creatures roam. But I have never been scared, even confronted by bears, and I’ve never felt compelled to leave a place before, or since this experience.

I never connected the sound with Bigfoot. In my mind Bigfoot – well, if he even exists – lives in rainforests far north, not down in the coastal mountains fifty miles from LA. It wasn’t until my interest in Bigfoot got sparked by someone I admire that the connection finally came.

I’m a fan of Survivorman, and think Les Stroud is an honest, sober guy with a whole lot of back country experience. So when he started looking for Bigfoot, I took it seriously.

Intrigued by his show, I looked through You-Tube for other info, where I ran across various alleged recordings of Bigfoot vocals. That’s when I recognized the sound.

I heard the same blood curdling screech of a rusty hinge, chorused with a resonant, guttural growl. It’s been described as many voices screaming, or many dogs barking in unison. Bigfoot researchers speculate it is a warning.

IMG_1683That is certainly what I felt. The memory of the event is quite clear. I had to look for one more thing.

I found the place on Google Earth. I found views from the same time frame. There is no road, no nearby oil field. Not even a trail in that canyon, or anywhere for miles around. I looked up sightings for the area on the BFRO web-site. There have been several in the Sespe, going back decades.

I also discovered a wealth of information about that one credible Patterson-Gimlin film that has been enhanced and analyzed with digital technology not available at the time it was filmed. There is incredible detail of body proportion and movement that cannot be human.

Whatever drove me out of that canyon made a hell of a noise I cannot associate with anything but a Bigfoot vocalization. Now that I’ve heard it, I can’t ignore it. I’m going back to that canyon, once I find somebody who’ll go with me..