Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Elbe, WA Trackway

Derek Randles, Cliff Barackman, and Guy Edwards at the
site of the Elbe, WA trackway

When I first received word of the Elbe, WA trackway, it was Monday afternoon, September 17th.  News came from my friends at the BFRO that a significant line of possible bigfoot tracks was reported to them, and was just a couple hours north of where I live in Portland, OR.  Ironically, the witness had originally reported the find to me via my NorthAmericanBigfoot@gmail.com address the day before.  However, I had just gotten back home for a brief break after filming a grueling month-long shoot for Finding Bigfoot.  Frankly, I needed a break, so I wasn't checking my bigfoot emails during this time.  

Looking at the initially-submitted photographs that came with the report, I had some deep reservations about the footprints' authenticity.  Many red flags were raised, but I decided to make the two-hour drive to look at the prints in the ground anyway.  After all, I am well aware of how poorly footprint photographs often turn out, and by looking at the impressions in the mud I thought much more could be learned.

Because I had a friend in town, I was unable to make it to the site until Wednesday afternoon.  Upon arrival, I found both Derek Randles and Paul Graves from the Olympic Project at the location busying themselves with documenting the site.  After greeting my friends, I set to work casting a number of the messier prints at the site.  A number of the clearest foot impressions had already been cast, but I was more interested in the messier ones.  It is these that often yield much more information than the clean ones.  After casting eight or nine footprints, I returned to Portland for a previously scheduled engagement that night.  

One of the messy footprints that I later cast.  These footprints gave
some of the evidence I needed to really solidify my conclusion of hoax.


Visiting the site didn't clarify my position very much as to the authenticity of these prints.  In some ways, I liked what I saw, but a few more red flags were raised.  Some of the prints looked very spontaneous, while others showed signature characteristics of a fake prosthetic.  I was more inclined to think that these were real, but I had several nagging doubts that I just couldn't let go of.  I decided to revisit the location the next day as well to gather even more information.  

On my second trip, I was accompanied by Guy Edwards of Bigfoot Lunch Club.  I again found Derek Randles and a couple of other Olympic Project members at the site tying up a few loose ends in their thorough documentation of the site.  We both cast a few more footprints and left the scene well after dark.

Now that I've had a chance to closely look at the photographs, emails, footprints in the ground, and casts from this site, I have to come to the conclusion that the situation is an elaborate hoax.  I will not divulge all of the details of how I came to this conclusion because I do not want to help any future hoaxer fool the bigfoot community in an even more elaborate hoax.  However, I will say that this is the best hoax that I have yet witnessed, and certainly a lot of time, research, and effort went into it.  The person or people responsible for this knows a thing or two about bigfoot footprints, and did an excellent job.  However, my admiration for their psychopathic expertise in lying does little to refund my money for gas and casting material.  Neither does it return the more than nine hours I spent driving, or the more than eight hours spent at the site over two days during my precious one week off from shooting the show.  (This is the real damage done...  Money is one thing, but when I only get one week off from shooting every four to five weeks, and I spend a good deal of it dealing with lies...  well, that doesn't make for a happy Cliff.  Time is the most precious thing that I don't have enough of at this point in my life.)

What appears to be a pretty good looking
track cast collected at the Elbe, WA site.  The devil is
in the details...


The hoaxing of this data is troubling, but for me that's not the worst of it.  The most disturbing thing personally is that, since I was the very first person to receive this report, and it was only sent to the BFRO after my lack of response, I can draw no other conclusion except that I was the target of this whole ordeal.  I forget sometimes that despite my attempts at being a good person, trying to be respectful to everyone in the bigfoot community and beyond, and keeping professional integrity, crazy people will start gunning for me simply because I'm on TV and/or am interested in bigfoot tracks.

No matter if I was the intended target of this hoax or not, the real victims here are the investigators, the bigfoot community, and sasquatches themselves.  Hoaxers do damage to all parties involved, including themselves.  If and when the identity of the hoaxer is discovered and/or revealed, the reputation of being a liar will not easily be shaken off.  

Scott Taylor, the BFRO investigator for this case, has issued a formal statement.  Below is that statement in its entirety:  

"The Elbe Track Line Public Update. September 29, 2012

The Elbe Track Line (ETL), is a very exciting find for all those involved. During the initial on-site investigation of the tracks, which occurred the day the original report was filed with the BFRO and Cliff Barackman, the ETL looked quite real. From looking at the tracks, and estimating them to be only a day or two old, they looked real and present some unique observations that could be applied to other finds in the future. It generated a great deal of excitement and everyone who heard about it could not wait for more information and confirmation that the investigation proved them real. Social networks became quite active discussing the find, in particular where exactly the track line was. Anybody who had a chance to see the track line first hand quickly leaned towards them as being genuine.

Over the next five days, a team of researchers came together to document the ETL in
more detail than any other purported sasquatch track line in history. Each track was photographed. Video of the entire ETL was taken in HD. The ETL was surveyed and laid out on a base line with the position and elevation of every track recorded. Over a 5 day period, every castable track was cast, and are now in the process of being cleaned, stabilized, and examined.

The team has been in regular communication and discussion about what we have
observed. We are seeing things about the ETL itself, as well as the individual track casts, that are causing some of us to have some questions and doubts. At this time we are not saying that the ETL is a hoax, nor can we conclude that it is genuine due to these questions. The casts need more examination by experts like Dr. Jeff Meldrum.

One the policies of the BFRO to validate that any report is genuine is that investigators are required to talk with the reporting witness(es). A witness who will not talk with an investigator, in person or over the phone, is immediately under suspicion, and as such, the report itself falls under suspicion. In this case, the witness has not provided investigators with a phone number. The only communication thus far has been via e-mail. This is a problem. We have asked the witness to meet us, and have offered to give him one of the casts in thanks. As of this writing, we have not received any e-mail response, or phone calls. This leads us to question the reliability of the reporting witness, and also casts a cloud over determining the validity of the ETL.

I am inviting the witness to help us clear up the questions that we have by talking with us face to face. If the witness wishes to be anonymous to the public, then we will respect that and not reveal in any way who that person is. However, we still need to talk to him.

Until then, we can not complete our investigation nor come to any formal conclusions.

Scott Taylor, Rick Noll, David Ellis, Cliff Barackman, Derek Randles, Paul Graves, and Thom Powell"



11 comments:

  1. Good call, Cliff. I so appreciate your level head. I might work in the realm of hauntings, but I know how easy it is for people in the field to think every sound is a ghost and, in your case, every footprint is a squatch. Your integrity is greatly appreciated. If anything, this incident verified to those who follow your work, that you call them as you see them. Atta boy.

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  2. I'm going to have to say, in just my opinion of course, that these tracks look fake. But hey, that's just me. What do I know?

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  3. Good work man, you and Thom and everyone rock.

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  4. Good work Cliff. There are many people, including myself, who appreciate the time and effort you put in during your limited free time.
    It's a shame that there are others who have too much free time on their hands and think it's funny to impede on another person's limited time away from work.
    I hope this doesn't jade you too much and make you less accessible because I always enjoy reading or listening to what you have to say. Keep up the great work Cliff, and I hope you get a chance for some rest.

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  5. Cliff, I feel your pain and disappointment let alone your loss of valuable time and money spent on this hoax. I do want to applaud your truthfulness in coming forward and alerting the public of the fake tracks. It takes a lot of fortitude to conclude that the facts aren't there to make the conclusion these are real Sasquatch prints especially when you became so involved in preserving and researching this find. It takes a real man to admit they have been taken in no matter how elaborate the hoax. I applaud your decision to expose the prints as a hoax. It would have been easy to look beyond the facts and try to cover up the hoax and protect your participation in the project.

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  6. It really sucks that people try and ruin it for everyone else. Great work Cliff!

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  7. Geese, these hoaxsters have nothing better to do than waste their own time and other people's time and send them on wild goose chases? This kind of thing makes me wish greatly for karma . . .

    Yes, this is a lot of work Cliff, but you also build your credibility by debunking such nonsense.

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  8. This track find was exposed as a hoax solely because of the investigative brilliance of Matt Pruitt,investigator extraordinaire and Cliff Barackman, bigfoot track expert. I am in awe of their competence.

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  9. Cliff you are indeed a breath of fresh air and a class act in the Bigfoot community. I hope the hoaxer is exposed for what he really is!

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  10. I've often wished that we could tell by looking at a person if they lie or steal, a real long nose or something. Life would just be so much easier. Do you still consider the London tracks real? I've put a link from Bigfoot Ballyhoo to this article. ... Linda Newton-Perry

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  11. Once again you have handled yourself with dignity,class and intelligence. Thanks for calling the prints what they were...a very good hoax job. I appreciate your honesty and think that you do one helluva job on the show and in your ongoing research. I know you get a lot of people who are jealous of your ever increasing fame,however,I think you are a credit to our field and one of the few that I think are truly in it for the right reasons. Keep up the good work bro.

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