Friday, August 20, 2010

The Blues Part 2

I woke up at Indian Camp on Thursday morning thinking that it was Friday morning.  When I became a little more temporally oriented, I was pleased to find that I now had a whole extra day to explore the Blue Mountains outside of Walla Walla, WA.

I found that the deer that was lurking around the night before had never left.  While foraging, she routinely came withing spitting distance of me (no, I didn't try to spit on her), and I knew I had many photographs of her on the six game cameras that I routinely deploy around camp each night.

One of a zillion pictures of this doe taken on a game camera.

Leaving the campsite, I headed south to check out a half dozen springs for footprints.  While checking my maps at an intersection of roads, a beat up truck with two passengers rolled to a stop next to me.  The passenger was a young man wearing a baseball cap, while the driver was an older gentleman, well-tanned from being outside, with an endearing drawl.  He asked if I was scouting for elk.

"No, I'm doing bigfoot stuff," was my reply.

The next hour of conversation revolved around his fifty plus years of experience in the Blues.  While he had never actually seen a sasquatch, he was positive they exist.  He said you can tell when they're around by the prickly "hair standing up" sort of feeling that you get.  He told me that there aren't many animals that smell worse.  He said that he's been seriously creeped out in the woods when there was no reason to be.  He also personally knew every bigfooter in the area, based on the names I threw at him.  He knew Paul Freeman because (like Paul) this man's job was to patrol the Mill Creek Watershed, though never worked on the same shift as Paul.  He was good friends with Wes and Peggy Sumerlin.  He knew Darr Addington (sp?) and every other name I did, except he knew the people themselves.  

The Blues are thick and lush, yet dry.

This man, whose name was Cecil Berry, was such a part of the local history of the Blue Mountains that he actually had a spring named after him (Berry Springs in the northern part of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area).  Cecil had actually built some of the only trails leading down into the Mill Creek Watershed.  He was such a fantastic source of history and lore for the area I was now exploring.

Since I had a local right there, I popped the question of "Is there anyplace in the Blues that is widely known to be haunted, or where bad things happen and people just don't go?"  Cecil laughed and replied in the affirmative.  Apparently, problems used to happen at the bottom of Beaver Creek.  Forest Service workers have gone in and never returned.  Other civilians, as well.  He briefly mentioned the "guardians" at the Twin Buttes cabins, too.  He went on to explain that he never saw one of the guardians when he was living there (he ran away when he was just a boy and lived for three years in the area of these cabins), but he heard them and knew "it" was around.

Taking my leave of Cecil, I headed to some nearby springs to bushwack and look for prints.  I found none, so I checked a handful of other nearby springs.  I found no prints at the other locations either, so I drove north to see if I could get close to Beaver Creek, which was deep in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.

There was no obvious place to camp looking out over Beaver Creek (at least the stretch of river where "the problems" were occurring), so I explored little-used roads for an hour or so.  I did stumble upon a cluster of cabins that border the wilderness area.  Nobody seemed to be home, so I dropped a business card or two off in their empty refrigerators on their porches.

Dusk was settling in for the night at this point, so I spent the next two hours driving along the Kendall Skyline Road from vantage point to vantage point and doing calls.  I wanted to call into the Mill Creek Watershed, though I targeted the saddles between the watershed to my west and the wilderness area to my east.  No calls were heard during this time, so I eventually ended up camping for the night at Deduct Springs.

A monument at roadside.

After making a small meal, cracking open a beer, and playing some guitar, I started doing calls.  After about an hour and a half, I heard a clear, yet distant, howling reply from the south.  The vocalization came from the upper reaches of the Walla Walla River.  This response was unfortunately not captured on my recording device, though I spent a considerable amount of time trying to pull it out of the background noise using sophisticated audio software.  Oh well.  That's bigfooting...

Check back soon to read about my next day's adventures...

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, Cliff. Beautiful country too. I think the PNW has some of the prettiest real estate on Earth. I look forward to coming back out there again.