Tag: hiking

Electric Earth – Sycamore Reservoir

Sycamore Reservoir – Parts 1 and 2

I backpack into the Catalina’s to look at features I believe were created by Arc Blast.

The Santa Catalina Mountains are unique in several ways. They are one of the ‘sky islands’ of the Madrean Archipelago. The nautical terms, island and archipelago, are used to describe the region because it resembles a dry island chain, dividing two seas of desert. The islands are mountains and the waters are cactus.

296780_255589454477312_100000787791512_666771_1120526016_nThe eastern sea is the Chihuahua Desert. I liken it to the Sargasso Sea – grasses on swells of rolling land with volcanic protrusions scattered here and there. It’s breezy and bucolic, an extension of the plains where antelope and buffalo once thrived. From West Texas to Arizona, and deep into Mexico, Chihuahua steams with thunderstorms in the summer, glazes with frost in the winter, and is a crystal cocoon of green grass and warmth in the Spring and Fall.

saguarosThe western sea is the Sonoran. It’s an overgrown jungle of desert, if there ever was one. Wetter than a desert should be, it teems with botanical danger. Cholla, Prickly Pear, Barrel, Occatillo, and the most grand succulent of all, Saguaro, wear cloaks of surgically sharp needles. Even the trees, Palo Verde and Mesquite, have thorns.

As inviting to pain as it is, it’s also a bounty of color and plenty that supports life in varietal abundance. Birds gather here from all of North America. The Sonora is the continent’s corridor for avian migration. In all respects, it’s the terrestrial equivalent to the Great Barrier Reef – birds swim in profusion like fish, reptiles skulk in lieu of crustaceans, cartoon cactus replaces coral, snakes are snakes, and coyote, bobcat and cougar predate instead of shark. It’s a coral reef without water.

catalinasThe mountains are the thing, though. They are the way birds and mammals hopscotch the way across dry, desert seas from the Sierra Madre in Mexico, to the Colorado Plateau. They are islands, where summits rise to ten thousand feet, covered in Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir and Aspen. Between the peaks and desert floor, environments layer by elevation. Chihuahuan grasslands overlay foothills of Saguaro forests. Canyons sprout sycamore and cottonwood groves. Juniper, Oak and Pinion stand in mid-layers with caps of forested woods with Canadian winters.

The Santa Catalina’s are queen of the Sky Islands, with exceptional majesty and drama in her cliffs, pinnacles and deep canyon vaults. She is a rock pile, though. Stark and bold granite shelves stack canted in a giant monocline.

SAM_0195There are deep cuts in its stacked layers of rock that bear the signature of lightning. Sharp angled, lightning-bolt crevasses shoot up rock faces, their floors exposing dykes of quartz veined rock with a grain at cross pattern to the surrounding cliffs. In other areas, features of precisely the same shape form on soil, the quartz rock replaced with sediments of starkly different color where plants won’t grow.

The obvious explanation that passes muster for science has these features the result of erosion from  rock-slide and water. I don’t think that is the case. Their angled, jagged progression up slopes and cliffs belies a gravity induced causation. I came to examine some of these features, because to me they appear to be evidence of Arc Blast. Arc Blast is a theory I propose for Telluric currents that once erupted from Earth in scorching arcs, and shattered across the surface of the land following a voltage gradient of surface conductive channels.

There is also a pinnacle I examine, called Thimble Peak, that is known by local native lore to be a sacred place. As I have found in most instances, sacred mountains are fulgamites formed by true lightning – arcs from storms in the sky. They stand like electrodes with dykes of rock radiating from the core, a formation created by a sustained and energetic arc. Thimble Peak is no exception, looking like a battery terminal jutting from Earth.

SAM_0204

The footprint of the entire mountain changes shape where Thimble Peak rises in stark contrast to surrounding ridges. Deep gorges surround it’s mesa-like sub-structure that finger out into the lightning bolt gouges. This trip takes me to the eastern gorge where I camp in its upper reach. A hot, dry day-hike takes me onto the backbone of ridge behind Thimble Peak to get a hard-to-reach perspective on it, and the giant arc features in the canyons.

SAM_0186The hike is in the Chihuahua ecological zone. It’s spring and the grasses blossom with color. It’s also warm and more buggy than normal. You’ll hear me spitting and swatting gnats quite a bit.

In Part two, I bring out the whiteboard and give a brief discussion of how I think fulgamites like thimble peak are integral to mountain formations like the Catalina’s.

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Gila Bigfoot – The Long Road Home

Episode 4 – The Long Road Home

Ginger and I camp at the lake after a day of Bigfoot hunting. Along the way we stop to check-out a likely granite outcrop in a meadow. As we leave the truck to cross the meadow, I hear an unmistakable whoop from the tree-line, and an answering whoop from the rocks. We change our mind about crossing the meadow.

It’s late season, so we are alone at the campsite. I’m playing a CD while filming, which isn’t appropriate, but the publisher notified me they were okay taking the advertising revenue. I don’t think they will get rich from it.

The next day we head home. This is the last trip for the year. I stop to look at one last tree structure and leave the truck in drive, nearly getting run-over as it rolls backwards while I’m at the tailgate.

Gila Bigfoot – Stench in the Air

Episode 3 – Stench in the Air

Ginger and I continue exploring a hilltop we climbed following tree-leans. On the reverse side of the hilltop, we find teepees of broken trees and a wallow with large tree structures. The trees are woven together in a fashion that defies wind, or snow-load. X’s surround the area.

I keep getting whiffs of bad odor, until Ginger alarms and I get the distinct smell of shit. It wasn’t either of us. I didn’t step in anything. We were at least a mile from the roads and trails. The scent was strong, like someone took a crap right next to us.

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.

utahsasquatch
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!

colorado-bigfoot
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.

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..