January odds and ends

I have been remiss in updating this blog lately.  Of course we had The Holidays and their attendant joys and horrors to distract us, and this month I have been suffering, and later recovering, from a terrible cold — nothing serious, of course, but enough of a hindrance to my daily life that I haven’t even been able to contemplate writing anything.

One good thing about my convalescence, however, was that I got some reading done, namely Raincoast Sasquatch by J. Robert Alley.  This book seems to be puzzlingly little-known within the Bigfoot community, but presents excellent sighting reports (many of them out of the ordinary, such as the parked group of teenagers reporting an unknown creature lifted and held their car’s back end to prevent their escape) and research from southeast Alaska and surrounding areas.

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One thing in particular that caught my attention in Raincoast Sasquatch was the section dealing with stick construction and tree markers, which I discussed a little while back in my post, Of Sticks and Sasquatch.  Alley describes a number of what have been reported to him as “nests” of woven sticks and bark that were seen by forestry professionals and others, and also recounts an extremely unusual formation of trees in the Klawock Lake area of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Alley writes (with accompanying photographs), “As reported to me in 1996 by Klawock forest workers, the trees were located thirty feet off a logging spur, several miles up the Klawock-Hollis Highway, which transects the island.  According to researcher Al Jackson, Prince of Wales Island Native elders had stated that fifty years ago the trees had been jammed into the soft muskeg by huge two-legged creatures as markers.

The trees above Klawock Lake are all trunks set quite vertically, with root wads uppermost, in a seemingly deliberate fashion… The largest tree shows approximately thirteen feet of wood above ground; the next largest shows approximately nine feet…. An estimated one-third of their total length may be embedded below the muskeg.”

So… mature trees, their tops jammed forcefully into the soil, with their roots towering vertically nine to thirteen feet above the surface of the ground?  What the heck?  Certainly doesn’t sound like anything most non-Herculean human beings would be able to pull off.

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Friend of the Big Sky Bigfoot Conference Russell Victor Acord reports that the second book in his Bitterroot Series will be available very soon.  Russ read from his manuscript of the new book at last fall’s conference and I for one am stoked to see the final product.  If you haven’t already, check out the first book, Footprints of a Legend.

Russ is a busy guy — he’s also co-organizing the International Bigfoot Conference, to be held in September in Kennewick, Washington.  This is shaping up to be a huge conference, so if you are likely to be anywhere near Kennewick around Labor Day, you have no excuse for missing it.

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I came upon this quote in the book Glacial Lake Missoula and its Humongous Floods by University of Montana geologist David Alt.  While it was not intended to pertain to Sasquatch, I think it serves as food for thought for the subject:

“Very few scientists in any discipline come to daring new conclusions as they consider the evidence.  Most go through life believing what they learned in college, resenting challenges to their settled beliefs, and disliking those who present them.  They muddle their way through their problems in a fog of confusion just like people who are not scientists.  That may not be how science should be done, but that is how it very often is done.”

Alt recently passed away and I regret I’ve only just read this book and did not have a chance to meet him.  I’m not normally into geology, but it has given me a new perspective on the whole landscape ’round these parts, and I appreciate the work that Alt did to bring awareness of ancient Lake Missoula to the masses.

 

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Of sticks and Sasquatch

More mysteries in the woods.  Do Sasquatch use sticks and trees to mark their territories, trails, or preferred hunting areas?  My friend Richard Soule, author of the Nox Gigas Study, suspects that they do.  One thing is for certain, and that’s once you start looking, you will see some odd formations in the forest.

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Branches and logs apparently placed in formation over old stump, Pattee Canyon, Missoula, Montana.  Photo mine

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Rob with arch in Pattee Canyon.  Photo by Richard Soule

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Abundance of arch structures in deciduous forest in Iowa.  Photo by Richard Soule

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Small tree broken about nine feet up, Pattee Canyon.  Photo mine

What causes these unusual-looking tree and stick formations?  It’s difficult to say.  Wind and/or falling debris could theoretically cause a tree snap like we see just above.  Bears might push over or otherwise destroy old trees while looking for the nutritious insects living therein.  Trees could serendipitously fall on other trees, bending them over and pinning them into an arch.  Hikers of the human variety could break branches to create unique markers to find their way off-trail.  Survivalists could practice their outdoors skills by building primitive teepee-like structures.  Well, you get the picture:  there are a million and one reasonable, logical explanations one’s mind can find for some of this weird stuff.

But then, as Richard and our faithful sidekick Rob found, you might see something like this.

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Rob with arch, near Lincoln, Nebraska.  Photo by Richard Soule

Here is Rob standing before an arched cottonwood.  It appears to be systematically held in place with a series of woven trees and branches, rather than a random windblown conglomeration of debris.  And just how does a tree of that size — especially a notoriously brittle cottonwood — bend without splintering?  It’s weird.  The sheer size and weight of the trees involved would seem pretty much to rule out human construction.  You’d think you’d have to have a big old crew to make something like this — and why the heck would you even bother?  An 8-foot-tall, 500- or 600-pound creature, however, could knock this baby out in a matter of minutes.  Theoretically.

But why?  Under what circumstances is a Sasquatch undertaking these construction projects in the woods?  It’s not like they’re in a job-training program or something.  Or that at least seems unlikely, even in this economically challenged age.

Richard theorizes that alpha male Sasquatch — that is, the somewhat grumpy dominant males of a given population — make such structures as seen above to show off their physical prowess to other Sasquatch who may happen to wander through the area.  Sort of a KEEP OUT sign in Sasquatch language, in other words.  As for smaller structures, perhaps juvenile members of the species are “playing” like a human child would with blocks or Legos.

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Teepee-like structure in Pattee Canyon.  Photo mine

I have many, many times seen human kids build structures similar to this one above in the public gardens where I work each summer.  However, it takes a horde of little ones to do it; they tend to lose interest within fifteen minutes; and anyway, it’s unlikely children could even pick up branches of this size, let alone manipulate them into place.  This particular teepee is suspiciously close to a trail (which you can see running along just behind), and that will pretty much always put “people” into the front of my mind.  The National Guard does on occasion do trainings on this site, so perhaps this one could have been built as part of a wilderness survival training course.  With a covering of pine boughs, this teepee would make a serviceable shelter in a pinch.

The moral of this post, and I do have one:  just use your head.  Are people around who could possibly be messing about in the woods?  Has there been a recent severe windstorm in the area?  Do you have bears or other known creatures who could have cracked, scratched, broken, or pushed over the trees or stumps during the course of their normal foraging?  Obviously there are many factors at play aside from possible Sasquatch intervention that could create strange and fascinating formations with sticks and trees in the deep, dark forest.  Most times, a pile of sticks in the woods is just a pile of sticks.  But occasionally, logic may fail to explain what you see.

Richard’s field guide to stick structures may be found here: Forest signs of the Sasquatch