Good morning my beloved readers,
Stopping by the Roaming Bobcat’s blog to tell you a story in the midst of writing my Crazy Free book seems a little bit like taking time off from the PCT to go for a hike. That would never happen. Well, unless it involves a Sasquatch encounter. I have been really stretching my brain to write Crazy Free; it will be fun to write one as it comes with no worries of publishability. Don’t judge my writing on this story, okay?
So, would you like to read about my Sasquatch encounter? I just learned that I had one myself. Here it is:
August 12th, 2012 – 19 walking miles from Ashland, Oregon (PCT mile 1708). I set up my tarp and sleeping bag on a small outcrop overlooking a valley and framed by a small bowl-shaped hill. The top of the hill, a few hundred feet from my camp, was wooded. The rest of the hill was covered in low brushes and golden dried grass. I don’t know what was on the other side of the hill, but I thought there must have been a road there because Halfmile’s map showed the trail intersecting a dirt road coming from that direction three or so miles down the trail from where I was camped. The valley below was deep and wooded as well. My interest in the view was not the valley, however, but the open sky above. This is what I wrote in my journal that evening:
“I stopped earlier than I meant in terms of miles today, but the Pleides meteor shower is supposed to be now and I am worried this might be the last cool protruding outcrop for a while. It looks like the trail dips back into the woods for a few miles from here.”
I enjoyed the meteor shower from the warmth of my sleeping bag and slept well that night.
The next morning, in the first glow of dawn, I was woken up by a long guttural howl. It had the tone and quality of a large man’s scream. It was neither menacing nor from fright, but more like the sound we thru-hikers make when we call to each other in the woods “woooooooooooooooheee!”, except it was stretched out to about thirty seconds and much louder. No man, not even Pavarotti, would have had the lung capacity for either the volume or duration of that call. I woke up but did not move. I wasn’t frightened by the sound, just very curious. My first guess was that hunters were using some calling device designed to amplify and sustain a human voice, but I could hear no engine, voices or other noise typically human. I then heard the same call from a different place on the ridge. I concluded that either there was more than one whatever-was-making-that-noise or that the whatever was moving very fast. I thought it might be a bird, a very large strange bird with a hell of a song. The call resonated again, this time back in the first location. I decided there definitively were several of the calling creatures. There was by then enough light for me to make out the top of the ridge. I scrutinized the edge of the wood and the top of the trees for any sign of movement, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The calls continued, about one every couple of minutes. After four or five them, I sat up and noticed I was not feeling so well. I felt a vague malaise, the physiological equivalent of thinking “something is very wrong here.” My intuition told me that I was safe – I didn’t have any fight or flight response to the call-, but I sensed I should not linger. I had intended to wait for Weathercarrot, who was camped a mere 5 miles away, but suddenly felt a slight sense of urgency about leaving the exposed outcrop I called home for the night. I packed rapidly and quietly, yet calmly, stashed a granola bar in my pocket for later and rejoined the trail. I heard one last call, this time further from my camp than the previous ones. I walked into the woods and to Ashland. I thought nothing further of that morning’s incident. I believed I had heard a strange bird or two; the event didn’t even warrant mention in my journal.
April 28th, 2013 – Lake Morena campground, California. I just returned from the yearly Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off reunion and party. I had an amazing time there, reunited with old friends, and met new ones. One of the great new acquisitions in my arsenal of friends is the delightful Coyote. I was sitting on Coyote’s Toyota truck’s tailgate when I noticed the “Science of Sasquatch” book on her sleeping pad. I asked her about it and she told me that she had never had an interest in Sasquatch until she had an encounter on the trail. Her encounter took place in 2010, in California, well out of the range where one might expect to find Sasquatch. She and a small group of thru-hikers were woken up in the middle of the night by a long guttural scream right by their camp. They woke up with a start, grabbed their hiking poles as weapons and yelled back at the creature in the woods. The creature ran away and screamed a few more times as it did so. Although it sounded very large, it moved rapidly and skillfully. This was not a lumbering beast through the wood. They never saw the creature and found very little evidence of its passage through the woods the next morning. The ground was not conducive to footsteps and there was no obvious damage to the trees in the path the creature must have taken as it ran away. Coyote filed the event away in the unsolved mystery folder in her brain for over a year before finding any potential explanation.
Although Coyote had filed the event away, her trail friend SOL (Shit-Out-of-Luck) had not. She researched the web looking for any answer to the question “What made that noise in the woods that night”, until she ran across a talk-show about Sasquatch. Included in that talk-show were several recordings of what researchers believe to be Sasquatch vocalizations. Bingo! Coyote and SOL agreed: the Sasquatch vocalization samples were exactly the same scream they had heard. With this new potential culprit in mind, Coyote picked up the Science of Sasquatch book. She read me parts of the chapter on Vocalizations: Most of Sasquatch’s vocalizations are presumed to be in the infra-sound range. This would make sense from an adaptation to the environment perspective because infra-sound carries over a greater distance than higher pitch sounds, and Sasquatches are purported to live in vast forested areas where sound could easily be absorbed. Sasquatches would also, based on their size, be very likely to possess the vocal cord length and lung capacity to emit infra-sound The most interesting part though, I thought, was the effect that infra-sound have on humans. Theycan cause dizziness or disorientation because of the soundless pressure on the human inner ear. Sasquatch researches often report feeling uneasy or queasy while recording Sasquatch vocalizations. I was fascinated by Coyote’s story, but had not linked any of it to my own Oregon incident. I had never considered my strange birds might be Sasquatch.
“Do you want to hear the vocalization samples? I have them on my laptop’ Coyote asked. You know where this is going … We sat under a tree by the truck huddled around the small speakers of her laptop ,and she played the part of the talk-show with the vocalizations. Yep, those sure sounded like my strange birds!! The whole Oregon episode came back to my mind vividly from the lost dusty corner where I had stashed it. I remembered the scream, the calls back, the lack of any crashing through the wood sounds and the malaise or queasy uneasiness I felt.
I will try and find the recordings for you. I am typing this on my camping chair and don’t have internet access at the moment, so this story won’t be posted for a little bit.
That’s all I’ve got. I don’t know what produced the calls on the recordings, but whatever creature makes that sound is the same creature Coyote heard in California and the same I heard in Oregon.
I am bummed I didn’t know I was having a Sasquatch encounter when it happened, but at least if this ever happens again, I’ll know to panic -or go after it, whichever mood seems most appropriate.
XOX. Roaming Bobcat.
I’ll be back in Sedona and at my writing desk tomorrow, I’ll load the story then.
Okay, here ya go:
Sasquatch recordings: http://www.bfro.net/REF/bfmedia.asp#sound
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