Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coming Back From Cali

Continued from an earlier blog post...

Tyler Bounds was my new partner for the next leg of my adventure.  We left our campsite around noon, headed to the coast at Crescent City, and took the 101 northward into Oregon.  The Oregon Coast is a spectacular drive, and well-worth the time.  We were rushed by only having three days to do it, and we could have taken three weeks and still not have seen all there was to see.

The Oregon Coast


Our first day's drive took us to the town of Reedsport, OR.  Our vehicle was gassed up (in Oregon, you're not allowed to pump your own gas) by a man who thought there was only one bigfoot in the world (a popular misconception, believe it or not, which is why I never capitalize "bigfoot" or "sasquatch"), but had a super positive attitude towards us two fools where were looking for "him."  I think we made his day...

Looking over an area map, we found an elk viewing area just a little inland from Reedsport, so we headed off that direction.  Driving on a highway that parallels the Umpqua River, we eventually turned south and headed into the depths of the Elliot State Forest.  This forest, like much of the Coast Range, is thick, steep, and lush.  Food resources are ridiculously abundant.  Berries, edible plants, deer, small mammals, and crustaceans are almost everywhere you look.

Yummy, easy-to-catch food.


At one point on our drive, we came around the corner and saw a mountain lion standing on the side of the road only 75 yards ahead of us.  I brought the car to a halt, slightly stunned having never seen a mountain lion in the wild before.  It seemed to have sized us up using its peripheral vision, and darted down an incline towards the nearby creek.  We gunned it to the spot where the cat disappeared and got out, scanning the jungle for signs of the beast with our video camera.  We never saw the cougar again, but is was exhilarating knowing that there was a 130 pound cat only a short distance away.

I make it a point to try to have a camera at the ready when driving back roads as I often do.  Taking photographs of the wildlife seems like such an easy thing to do, but honestly, I've failed miserably at it.  Even deer are fairly difficult to capture on camera before they dart off the sides of the road.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to film a sasquatch during a road crossing sighting.  Nearly impossible, I imagine...

One of my more successful attempts.
Notice that there are three deer in the photo.


After spending ten minutes looking for the mountain lion, we drove a few hundred yards down the road to find an excellent campsite for the night.  Some people might not like the idea of camping in an area where you know there is a mountain lion.  I think it's a good idea for a couple reasons.  First, if there's a cougar nearby, you know there's ample food for large predators (like a sasquatch).  Secondly, there are always mountain lions nearby when you're in the Coast Range.  Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they're not around, and judging by the scat and prints I've seen in the Coast Range, there are lots and lots of cats there.  You would be fooling yourself to believe anything but that.  I find it easier to just be okay with the presence of these large beasts.

Tyler Bounds at creekside.


We spent the night calling and knocking, but to no avail.  The place was extremely squatchy, but there aren't that many bigfoots in the world, so it's not much of a surprise we didn't get any action.  We didn't see that cat again, either.  Having made it through the night without being killed and devoured by carnivorous beasts, we continued our drive the next day.

Our next destination was to be Pacific City.  I had heard about a rabbit infestation in the area and wanted to find out if the rumors were true.  "Why?" you ask.  A pattern I have noticed over my bigfooting career is that sasquatches are most often found where there is a superfluous protein source.  I saw this in Ohio where there was a goose problem.  I saw this in Florida where the wild pigs were in abundance.  That flap of bigfoot sightings that occurred in Southern California back in the 1970's coincided with a little-known rabbit population explosion in the Antelope Valley.  A botonist I interviewed saw a sasquatch where there were way too many brook trout...  The list goes on and on.

Tyler and I stopped at the Sportsmans Bar and Grill for some fantastic fish and chips, as well as to ask around for any rumors that might be of interest.  What we found was that the rabbits were a big problem a few years ago, but are much more in control now.  Apparently, there are still flocks of rabbits in unusual numbers, but they are largely confined to a motor home park far from the usual sasquatch habitats.  I considered checking it out, but the day was getting late, and we still needed to find a place to camp.

On the way out the door, I casually asked if the bartender knew of an older English fellow named Peter Byrne (who lives not far from Pacific City).  The bartender said that he did in fact know Peter, and that he had been there only the night before.  I laughed, dropped the BF bomb on him (which basically means I told him of my bigfoot habit), and we discussed Peter for a few minutes.  Peter goes there on Mondays because the cook at the pub makes Indian food, which Peter is fan of.  Go figure. If I didn't have plans to see Peter this weekend, I would have spent some time trying to track down the man while I was in town...

Cliff Barackman looking northward over the clouds on Mt. Hebo.


Nearby Mt. Hebo seemed like an excellent spot to camp for the night.  The area is rich with wildlife, and we were treated to sightings of many deer, several elk, and the back end of a bear running in to the brush (which we also got out of the vehicle and tried to film, only to never see again).  The entire area was logged in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, and the replant left the trees far apart, letting lots of sunlight hit the forest floor.  This small detail gave this stretch of woods an insane amount of both food and cover.  The endless acres of berry fields are up to twelve feet high in most places.  If thick, thorny berries weren't present, then devil's club or some other nasty prickly plant is, barring all but the most armored of human traffic.

It took us hours, but we eventually found a place to camp at the end of a "road" I had no business driving down in the dark.  The plants that thickly grew in the center of our path were easily five feet high in many places, and for most of the last few miles of our journey we could not see the ground where my tires would be rolling.  Don't try this at home, kids...  So as not to alarm my parents (who occasionally read this blog), I won't go into details about the drive.

Our campsite on the road in the morning light.
Yes, this is the "road" we drove down.  Don't you see it?
  


It was after 11 pm when we stopped the car for the night.  It was the first decently level place to be for many miles.  We pulled out a camping chair, opened a couple beverages, and listened to the spooky woods around us.  During the first ten minutes of our stay, amongst the myriad of forest noises we heard a louder-than-regular knock from the hill to our west.  This knock was soon accompanied by another, then a series of short whistles.  This got our attention, so I quickly readied the thermal imager while continuing to use my normally inflected voice.  (When sasquatches might be nearby, don't stop talking, or change the tone or cadence of your voice.  They are extremely sensitive to these things and might change their behavior and go totally quiet.)  We then heard whatever-it-was going through the brush and away from our camp.  We followed, but never caught a glimpse of the culprit.  Sasquatch?  Maybe.  I don't know.  Exciting, though.

The rest of the night was amazingly dark, very noisy, and without any sasquatch activity.  We were treated to a symphony of mountain beaver activity, though.  It sounded like dozens of rabbits chewing on plants, only louder.  It was quite amazing, actually.  In the morning, right below our parking spot was an apartment complex for mountain beavers.  There were easily 30 or 40 burrows in the soft hillside.  I love these gifts that nature bestows when one delves into the wilds...

The drive out was less adventurous than the drive in, but was challenging nonetheless.  We made our way to the coast, and again drove north on Highway 101.  Our next destination would be the Wilson River, just east of Tillamook.  We wanted to see the lay of the land where a recent sighting took place, and also to see if there was any chance of finding prints from the event.

Just two weeks before this, I got wind of a bigfoot sighting on Highway 6 outside of Tillamook.
I was tied up the day I heard about it, and was unable to find out where exactly the sighting occurred, so I didn't get a chance to get out there until this day.  The sighting happened from a bridge at about 5:30 am on Friday July 9.  A man who drives a truck from Tillamook to Portland everyday saw a sasquatch on a rock on the Wilson River, possibly drinking from the river.  I was unable to find out exactly which bridge this was, but the man narrowed it down to "one of the first four bridges east of Tillamook."  That really isn't good enough, considering the amount of land that entails, but it was a start.

Tillamook State Forest.


Tyler and I closely inspected one of the bridges and found that there was little chance that any sign would be left from the sighting, even if we were in the right place.  The river's beaches are largely private property, and hoards of swimmers blanket these same beaches when the weather is good (as it had been).  We quickly gave up our search for sign and turned our attention towards finding a great camping site.

After several hours of precarious driving, we found ourselves at a loud confluence of two creeks.  It was lovely, but not a lot of bigfooting was done that night.  We did screams and such, and even threw large boulders off a nearby precipice trying to attract attention, but even if we were visited, the rivers would keep it a secret.

...and I left my digital recorder sitting on a log as I drove off.  Duh!  It was a pricey campsite...

Don't worry, it's written in chalk.


The next day finally brought be back home to Portland.  Tyler and I parted ways as I handed him off to Will Robinson who would be bigfooting outside of Seattle, WA that weekend.  My yearly adventure to Northern California was finally over.  Now it was time to get back to my normally scheduled squatching.  Like the kind I did this past weekend...  Check back in a day or two for more tales of adventures from Bigfootland, including some pretty good vocalization recordings I obtained this past Friday night near Mt. Hood.

1 comment:

  1. Wilson River Hwy, Tillamook Forest. It's like a needle in a haystack...so much ROOM.

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