Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Goin' Back to Cali, Part 1

When the weather gets hot, I start getting the urge to cool down by taking a dip in Bluff Creek at the Patterson/Gimlin filmsite.  No other body of water seems to cool down my fiery soul in the same way.  So, when an invitation arose to rendezvous with a herd of bigfooters in Northern California, I jumped at the chance.

On Wednesday, July 14 Matt Pruitt and Tyler Bounds arrived on the doorstep of my humble little shack.  They had driven down from Seattle, WA and were to spend the night to cut a few hours of driving off of their journey to Northern CA.  We spent that evening pouring casts, talking 'squatch, and enjoying some beverages before retiring for the night.

The pre-pour party.

The next day, my house guests got a head start on the drive while I prepared for the trip.  Will Robinson, my frequent field partner and friend of the 'squatch was to ride with me after he got off of work, so I had several hours to get my stuff together.

Will and I got on the road in the middle of the afternoon and headed south.  Our drive would take us through Grants Pass, into Cave Junction and O'Brian, then across the Siskiyou Mountains into Happy Camp, CA.  We would then head west on Highway 96, the "Bigfoot Scenic Byway," to the Bluff Creek area and meet up with Matt, Kelly, and Tyler at "the Water Spot."  The Water Spot is the location of some of my most intense sasquatch encounters, and I keep the location confidential.

After darkness fell, we took a walk to the nearby paved road where we could lie down and be quiet (gravel roads are so noisy!).  Letting loose with a couple calls, we were soon greeted with heavy footfalls from the ravine next to the road.  Whatever it was approached us, stopped, then walked parallel to the road for a short ways before walking down into the ravine.  I was both busy with listening, as well as poking my thermal imager above the brush trying to get a shot of whatever it was.  Of the two recorders that were running, neither picked up the crunching sounds that we heard in the brush.  No images were obtained either, but it was quite exciting to have an obviously large animal approach to within forty feet.  A bit unnerving, too.

The morning came too early as the sun broke the horizon.  The weather was too hot to sleep in very long, so we got up and broke camp.  Our next stop was to be the Patterson/Gimlin Filmsite, and I was to be the tour guide for the group, being the only one who had been there before.

After taking the "H-spur" road down to the bat boxes, we headed upstream past the bend in the creek to the PG Site.  I seem to end up here every summer, so it's always interesting to see how much the creek bed changes from year to year.  This year was no exception.  Log jams blocked the creek where I walked the previous year, and new signs of the winter's erosion were evident wherever I looked.

The cool clear waters of Bluff Creek.

After arriving at the PG site, we all took the obligatory baptismal dip in the river at the site.  The water was cold, but well worth the submersion on this hot day.  We soon started exploring the higher ground where Patty herself walked many years ago.  Making our way to the back of the once-open sandbar, we attempted to find trees that were clearly over forty years old and snapped a few pictures.  "Those trees saw Patty walk," was the catch phrase that kept going through my mind.

Approximately where Patty walked.

Those trees saw it happen.

Cliff Barackman and friends posing at the PG Site.

The time grew late very quickly, and we soon had to leave this Mecca of Bigfooting.  We had places to go and people to see.  Orick, CA and Bart Cutino, to be specific.  But that's the subject of another installment of this blog.  Check back in a couple days for the next leg of my journey.

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