Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Back in the summer of 1986 was the last time a Big foot was possibly sighted in the Southern Sierra. It was near Monache Mountain, on the east side of the Sierras, Straight east from Porterville. According to the Fresno Bee, a construction crew was working on a bridge in a remote part of the Inyo National Forest, on the South Fork of the Kern River in the Golden Trout Wilderness. The five-man crew was working at an 8000 foot elevation around dusk and heard a scream so loud it “sounded like a stadium loudspeaker.” The scream came again 3 more times and so freaked out one of the crew, he grabbed a rifle and fired it into the air. From a distance of a city block they saw a shadowed human looking figure about 8 feet tall and walking upright, move over the top of a hill and disappear. The crew, who was camped at the site, were so rattled they promptly decided to leave their equipment, walk the 2 miles out and drive to the Black Rock Ranger station, where they spent the night.. The rangers told them they had probably heard a mountain lion, which when making a kill will scream, which probably startled a bear on the ridge making it stand upright.. Several of the crew were veterans to the mountains and argued this was different than any mountain lion call or bear encounter they knew before. They returned to the site the next day with a ranger and after thoroughly checking the area found no evidence or footprints, though the crew also found no bear or mountain lion prints. Later hikers in another area reported finding huge footprints with a pronounced big left toe marking. I have recently talked with a friend of one of the crew who was there and he still swears that what they heard and saw was something unknown.
This story really brought a memory back to me. It comes up now and again, maybe like when I awake in the middle of the night, in my sleeping bag up in the mountains, in the deep trees somewhere…
I was 16 and living in Los Angeles. I belonged to a group that did a lot of camping, and we were going on our big summer trip. Our leader had a friend who was a long time mule Packer in the northern California town of Paradise, in the hills above Chico.. He and his 2 mules were taking us way back somewhere in the Lassen National Forest where we were spending 10 days learning woodcraft and mule packing. We were city boys for sure, and the mules soon ruled our lives, as we came to realize what it took to pack and herd them. We also noticed how smart they really were. After several days out, we reached Murphy Lake, which was our turnaround point. This was a very remote area that the Packer had wanted to check out as it was new also to him. We made camp on the edge of a beautifully green meadow, surrounded by thick forest, where further in was the lake. We moved the mules to the middle of the meadow, and helped the Packer put hobbles and a long line on to keep them in check. They were our ticket out, which would otherwise be several days of hiking out with lots of gear. With a big fire going it was dusk when the scream came. It was sooo fricking loud!! Its like the above story said “ like stadium loudspeakers.” Our group of 7 stood in dumbfounded fear, including the Packer. The scream came again one more time, and that’s when we realized the mules were bucking like broncos. We didn’t know what to do and looked at the Packer. He was shaking and getting out the only gun we had, a black powder, cap and ball single shot pistol. We were learning about black powder guns on our trip and had fired this one already. No way would we want to kill anything, but we were scared and shaking and the gun felt pretty good right then. The only words I remember the Packer saying were “ I ain’t ever heard anything like that up here before.” We never heard or saw anything else that long night, or on the rest of our trip. Our leader, the other adult, was a recent Vietnam Vet and got really nervous when it happened. He smoked a pack of Marlboros that night. The adults played the whole thing down, like it was no big deal, even that the hair on the Mules was standing up on end when they were bucking.. The Mules were spooked and uneasy the rest of the trip, they knew something we didn’t. It all was eerily sounding like Bigfoot though we never used that word..
I guess ever since I’ve become kind of a collector of Sasquatch stuff. Clipping an article here and hearing a story there. I had heard long ago, that there was a casting of a large footprint up in the Sequoia Park, Lodgepole archives that was taken in our area in the 30’s. While most Bigfoot sightings have mostly been further up in the north, there are still long stretches of land out in the desert and lots of mountainous areas that are totally remote and tree covered, where a species can survive almost unnoticed, specially if that species is nomadic., After my experience way back as a teenager, I’ve been a believer ever since………
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I’ve known Larry Zulim for a long time. A great guy and all about going climbing. He climbs hard too, usually going to Yosemite at least once a week to climb crack.
He knows a lot of old climbing history and stories from the valley days. There is a picture of him balancing on a slack chain in the Yosemite Climber book by George Meyers. You would think that after all those years it would be time to do a slide show tour or write a book but Larry’s still climbing Hard for his sixty some years!
I went along on a bouldering excursion one afternoon recently with him and our friends Bruce and Adam. Bruce and I have climbed for some years now and Adam had never climbed before and bought some gear just for this day. We brought along one bouldering pad, though we hardly used it. We were Trad Bouldering
I guess you could call the 440 Boulders a secret spot. All along the foothills of the Central Sierra, there are areas peppered with boulders, some medium, some amazingly huge! But it’s all mostly off limits. “No Trespassing” signs everywhere.
This boulder place Larry is taking us doesn’t seem to have any of those kinds of signs. Coming here for a number of years already, he knows the access secrets, which includes bringing some doggie treats. Located on the eastern edge of the valley between Visalia and Fresno, it’s a bunch of lefts and rights, then through a farm workers yard with bulls and on to the edge of an orange orchard to get to the rocks. The parking is at a pullout slashed with gang graffiti, broken glass and bullet holes. It was unsettling to head to the rock leaving the truck to fend for itself. .
Last time I went to a bouldering area, a year ago maybe, everyone had a pad. It looked like a mattress convention! We would pile em all up for the high ball problems. Being a good spotter kept you in with the in crowd. Some big climbs you have to jump off the top onto waiting pads or pad.
There were chalk “buckets” of all things! Poles with coarse brushes taped on with duct tape leaned against the boulders. There was a step ladder too. Everybody was covered in chalk and sweat, a stove down in the dirt hissed out the smell of an espresso pot boiling and the banged up boom box blared out some thumping, bumping, gitty up rant. And everyone was sending the stuff, going for it on big air to the applause and yells of the crowd, climbing hard and in style and getting stronger and bolder on the Boulder. It’s contagious for sure. Bouldering is a sport all on its own!
Today it was just climbing. We were nomadic, moving camp to the next boulder set as soon as we’d all done the problems or not. There were some funky landings, with fist size rocks. I guess the pad would help here but we didn’t want to take the time. The climber must not fall was our mantra, though it wasn’t that bad. Today was more like the way I remember bouldering to be, when all you brought was shoes and a chalk bag. Sometimes a piece of rug helped. . Larry was going for 90 problems, which he did. He doesn’t count the down climbing and just keeps moving, though not too fast, just steady. Bruce and I got up more problems than we thought and Adam got a serious taste for climbing on his first boulder problems
We finished right as the sun was going down and it was almost dark as we came back to the truck where all was amazingly well. All the light was just right for photos and views and we felt rewarded with sore muscles and planning for the next week’s trip back. I’m Thankful to Larry for giving me the gusto to go climbing and having him as my inspiration
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Its been way to long and there's a ton of new stuff to add. I'm working on it and it's all for you.........