Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Is 'Penelope' More Than An Urban Legend?


I received the following email on Monday 9/30:

Hi.. I was searching for things in the Sierra Nevadas and I came across a story on your page about a creature named "Penelope". The entire encounter and creature described by the "L.R." person who sent the original e-mail was something my entire family and myself had witnessed many years ago. We were camping near Convict Lake, Ca. but further back in the woods. There were 3 other groups of campers in the campground and it was late Spring. On our second night there, around 1 am, just outside my old Nissan/Datsun 6-pac camper my Father, Mother, and I heard a very loud scream. Other people in the camp heard it as well, because when I looked out the window I saw lights in all the tents turn on. Following the loud scream, a second scream came from the hill across the stream. There were 2 of these creatures! A minute or 2 went by and then again, from the same location, we heard another loud blood-curdling scream. It then proceeded to begin running in the direction of the creature across the stream. It must have been large because my dad is 6'4" 300lbs and could not make the same loud thuds this creature made when running. We only got a look at part of it as it emerged from the brush when crossing the stream. It was a white-ish blur, at least thats what we saw. Even though several campers had weapons, we left right then and there. This was back in 1986. I dont really believe in bigfoot, aliens, etc. but whatever this was, it was real and it was real big. I will never go camping without at least a shotgun since that incident. Thanks. M.

So...was this 'Penelope?' I had my doubts...but now I'm beginning to wonder what was heard & observed. Here is the original post along with a few updates. Read it and LMK what you think:


I received this correspondence on 8/28/2012...and received a followup last night 8/29/2012. I'm posting the unedited email:

Sir - my brother referred your email addy to me. He thought you may have an answer to what I saw this past July while camping in the Sierra Nevada Mts. near Tioga Lake, CA. My teenage son and I were camping in our RV. There were other campers in the area but not very close to us. On the 3rd night of our trip, we encountered something that neither of us can explain.

This is bear country and I know that there have been Bigfoot reports over the years. But what we saw was neither as far as we can tell. We secured all of the food and other supplies in the RV and were getting ready to go to bed. It was about 12:30 am. My son fell asleep quickly while I was getting a few things ready as we were going to leave this location later in the morning. I was looking at a map when I started to hear high pitched screams. At first I thought it was a coyote but it was a single scream and sounded more human - like a woman's scream. I opened the RV door and stood silent in the doorway. Once again the high pitched scream started. This time, it woke my son. We both stood at the door as the screams continued from the direction of the mountain. After about 10 mins the screams stopped - we both went to bed.

Something startled me while I was sleeping because I woke in a panic. I looked at my watch - it was 2:40 am. Then all of a sudden that same high pitched scream erupted outside of the RV. As it started my son jumped out of his rack and fell to the floor. I grabbed my .44 just in case. As we looked out through the windshield the moonlight was bright enough to illuminate a tall thin creature with light colored skin. My son yelled 'zombie!' - it did look like a female human form but the face and the rest of the body looked horrible. It reminded me of an old witch - no clothes, deformed face, long light colored hair, long arms and legs. I figured it stood almost 7 ft. It was walking away from the RV toward the lake. I had seen enough. I made sure everything was ready to go and drove out of there ASAP.

We ended up near Mono Lake. A few days later I was able to talk to a ranger as he walked through the camping area. He was an older guy and quite engaging. I described what we witnessed - my son also verified what we had seen. The ranger got a serious look on his face and said that over the years, something similar had been reported a few times. He said that they called it 'Penelope' but he didn't know why it had gotten that name. That's all he knew.

When I got home I searched the internet but no information was available. My brother gave me your email addy and said you may have an idea of what it was. I'd appreciate your help - you can also call me at XXX-XXXXXXX. LR

I contacted LR by email...then talked to him last evening (8/29). I received this email later:

Hi Lon - thanks for calling. As you requested, I am including a picture that closely matches what we saw (the image on the left...Lon), though it is just the face and the hair was much lighter. Like I said before it was very tall, no clothes, long thin arms and legs. You have our permission to post the email on the condition you not release other private information. If anyone has details please forward to me. Thanks for your help.

NOTE: I looked for 'Penelope' online with one small reference but little detail. I contacted Inyo National Forest information...they directed me to the Mono Lake ranger station. I was able to talk to a ranger who confirmed that there were a few very odd sightings in the Sierra Nevada range and that one of these 'beings' was dubbed 'Penelope' but he was unaware of how or why the name was given. I sent out a few inquiries last evening. Today I received a short email from a folklore writer in Reno, NV that 'Penelope' was supposedly a woman who became lost in the Sierra Nevada Mts. several years ago and eventually became a flesh-eating monster. OK. Seems like we're getting into the 'urban-legend' column on this one. Well, anyway, I'd appreciate some followup if available...Lon

UPDATE: As dumb luck has it, I had a reference to 'Penelope' in a book I recently received from Eric Altman titled Monster Spotter's Guide to North America The brief description is similar to the information that I received from the folklore writer with a few more gruesome details. It seems 'Penelope' disembowels her victims before feasting on the remains. As well, she is supposedly responsible for a few unexplained deaths in the Sierra Nevadas. Other than that, I have no idea what LR and his son witnessed...Lon

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1 comment :

Robbie Shaw said...

Whoa!! What an encounter!! What DO we make of this!? Lon,thanks for sharing this harrowing sighting. I don't even know where to start!!
We have two accounts,from the same area. That's very interesting. Although one camp only saw the creature,perhaps. It would be of great interest,if the third camping party at this spot,would happen upon this,and write what they witnessed,or heard.
The latest account,states that they was there,and not only heard one scream,but two,from two separate locations. That would lead us to think of TWO of these creatures!!
Lon,I'm stunned. Out of all the weirdness and situations I've read/learned of(and a majority of this knowledge is because of you,Lon,and your massive,and awesome collection of reports,encounters,and sightings,and I will be greatfull for many years,for this!)I can say this is the first time I've heard of anything such as "Penelope". However,as I think you may have considered,Lon,there may be a resemblence,to something.
The Wendigo. Could it be? The story the park ranger told made me think of this. There has to be more to the legend(s) of this,no doubt around the area the sighting occurred. The Wendigo is,from what I've learned,a monster,some culture describe it as pure evil,almost like a beast,that was once human,now a monster with strange,paranormal like abilities. I know some of these details vary,sometime greatly,based on the culture,however,the main theme,and description,and most importantly,relevant here,is the way one becomes the monstrositie. The act of cannibalism. Then,when not stopped,the sprit of Wendigo enters this unfortunate soul,transforming it into a massive,15 foot tall beast,that's hunger is eternal,and never sated.
Could this be something? I find it intriguing that the first thing the young man,in the first encounter,upon seeing this being,said was "Zombie". And the height of this thing. 7 foot. From description,I think we can rule out a Bigfoot(as in the normal types,lol,if that makes any sense,)although we can certainly say,this is not a dogman situation. Doesn't ring of an E.B.E either. I don't know. It could be other things,that are totally unknown to us,as well. Weirdness is on the rise,it seems. And this is one of the far stranger encounters I've learned of,in many days. Many days indeed.

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