Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Growl


I recently received an email from a woman who lives in coastal Humboldt County, CA. She describes, in detail, several natural experiences over the years:

My husband had just purchased a brand new metal detector in 1999 and we had never made a hike across the street from our cabin before, we chatted and agreed to try out both hiking and taking turns using the detector together. I told him we could look for old gold miners treasures stash. Really the canyon had been logged in the late 1800's for redwoods and we knew even finding some old loggers things could be fun too.

So we had a good breakfast on a Saturday morning and took our happy female Dalmatian along by leash heading West on a paved road. I had been watching this side creek destination for months on my drives out of the woods. It seemed like the perfect natural access point because I knew the acreage across the street was Private owned and steep. There is at least 1400 acres and all of it faces North which follows parallel to the paved road. I had seen some deer in the mornings up this thread creek canyon and it was very quiet there. Some neighbors lived on that side of the road but only down by the pavement and the whole canyon is so quiet that it would reveal sounds far away. One could tell the activity of which neighbors were coming home from town or leaving etc. So we began our hike at the point of this unnamed creek marked by No Hunting signs. Nothing said Private Property to us or Keep Out and like other small creeks here and there, this one ponds before meeting the road and drains under the pavement to a lower main creek that flows out to the Pacific Ocean. We were keeping respectfully quiet and my husband was wearing his headphones for the detector anyway. I was enjoying the smells of the redwoods and big leaf maples and looking at my dog enjoying the walk. It's always wet on the ground with thick duff to hike on but the understory is pretty sparse in this area because the height of the mountain blocks the sunshine. We are accustomed to the steep slippery terrain on our side of the road too and we dress in layers for the cold and sometimes there is too much sun or Pacific winds. Some granite grains and many thick needles of the redwoods to hike on makes for quiet hiking too unless you snap a small branch. About 20 minutes of enjoying this beautiful creek area and the morning sun peeking through some of the tree tops found us just standing around at the lower creek point. I was looking up the sides of the creek ahead because there were larger rock boulders and fallen trees to help in picking out a good hike zone for us all. My Dalmatian was always good off leash on hikes that I took anywhere in California because I started her out on mountain bike rides in the Sierras. Now we were living in the Coastal Range near to the Pacific. But I chose to keep her leashed this time because the property was Private owned.

When I asked my husband if he was enjoying the detector, I noticed he could hear me without removing his headphones. He seemed like he was already comfortable with the new toy and he was busy adjusting knobs to read for Gold while looking to me for direction of destination. So I described and pointed the fire scarred trees up the slope might be a good place to reach. He agreed that would be fine. I could already tell that he would not be able to use his detector though while needing to scramble up the creek climb and that there would be places where hiking would be about all he could do. So I was prepared to hold the machine while he would be picking his route up the creek. We were just committed on our way from the flatter bottom ground to just begin ascending the slope up when we heard a huge Growl sound that made us stop in mid strides. All 3 of us immediately checked to our Left where the sound had come. This would be to the East direction. I immediately asked my husband, "Did you hear that?" He was still looking that direction and his mouth was open but he did not say much just a gesture of sound. It was clear to me that he heard the AARRrrrUUUAHHHGaaa noise and the vibration of it had come to my high ribs around my heart. I've never heard this yowl before but my mind told me, "That is Bigfoot and he is letting you know you are entering his hunting grounds". We then checked to the Right and still not one bit of movement or sounds. My dog was checking around just the same as we were doing. I thought the area was even quieter now. I talked to my husband with only my eye brows and facial expression. He was looking back to the left and higher and lower. He had been a soldier in the Army so I kind of relied on him to tell me if there was danger ahead. But I felt strangely interested in reaching that point above, so I eventually just began hiking again.

We just hiked straight up the creek anyway and reached those burned out trees which were first growth redwood stumps with fire scars. The quiet was almost too loud somehow. It felt creepy and shadowy for an early part of the day. We had stopped all conversation. My dog was even walking polite and not wanting to pull on the leash or want off of it. We took a moment to discuss where we were heading next when suddenly there was an obvious flat grade in the East direction. It made all the steep hiking worth it as now we were able to just head East far too easy now. We had found an old logging road I guess. It was completely covered in fallen branches and needles and leaves of maples. My husband enjoyed using his detector on the road. At one point in the road, we had to crawl through an area of growth. The tunnel was the size of a mountain lion or wild boar maybe, so it was a bit creepy knowing that we were using it's footpath. I don't like guns on hikes and this was above the point of where our own cabin down below would be. Another reason I would not want to shoot in an inhabited area. One cannot see how far a bullet would travel if they missed their shot. You can see to an edge of a slope below but not all the way down to the pavement when you climb this ridge. The few times I have heard a neighbor take a shot at something, the sound of that crack relays over and over against the canyon walls. After our crawling through some scrub brush across the old dirt road, we came out and realized that now the hiking was really flat and useable enough that we could pick a point down below or up above to use the detector. I suggested he try scanning inside of some old burned out stumps. We decided to walk down slope the next time we came to an area of brush growing across the logging road. That was where we noticed something queer. There were some huge branches leaning into a redwood. I just had to get to that tree was all that I knew. Once there, it became obvious that a large Eucalyptus branch had been purposely shoved into a lower arm of the 2nd growth redwood tree. We both tried to nudge it to see just how tight it was placed there and it was too solid for us both to budge. We have never built a lean-to before and even then, I was just learning what one was myself. The only Eucalyptus trees are those that were planted 1/8th of a mile out at the front of this canyon road. Leftovers from the days of logging the country here and necessary for firewood and trains. There were other branches of maple and pine shoved into this lean-to and yet it was not luxurious. It had many areas of open and no added wind protection but it was a huge undertaking to create this one. No doubt to me that it was not put together by one person or even 2. I was confirmed now that we had been in an area of someone else's domain. I did feel bad about that later.

So we had our fill of trying to nudge the heavy limbs and we walked back upslope and continued East on the flat road trail above. We did find some old items like a very rusted out cast iron skillet inside a tree stump and some old ashtray from a loggers truck and bullet casings and even some toy gun part.

It had been about 2 hours that we had been walking from our house now and we were not talking about the Howl noise but we were quiet and checking our back and looking around anyway since this was new ground. We did try to ascend that North facing ridge but it was too extreme to just casually finish in one day. We knew we could always prepare better for it another time. The higher treeline did begin to change from maples and redwoods to mixed conifers and areas of more difficult rockface terrain too. The thickness of the duff on the ground was very moist. This had been a very damaging rainy season. Residents in the canyon had been stranded at their homes when the Hwy 1 had eroded from the rains and floods. Crazy to realize that wildfire is also the other natural danger here. Everything is so soggy wet now in the summer. This was the first time that we ever tried to live in this canyon but we knew that there were some natural dangers. Like a redwood that fell one night, it made us bolt upright out of a sleeping state. The ground really shook and in the morning PG& E had come out with chainsaws etc. to open the road You just accepted that once in awhile you might not be able to rely on good water or any electricity. We always had a back up plan for those times. I was very resourceful to always keep hot water ready on the woodstove in large cauldrons to add to our daily baths in an old cast iron claw foot tub. We liked living that way. I would take hikes every morning to go collect branches for the kindling pile I kept built up. Even if it was raining all day, I would go gather for the woodpile. I never heard a noise in the surrounding terrain that did not make sense to me. So we got back home from that hike without any other notices of anything extreme. We never talked about the Growl or the lean-to again.

One morning later though, it had been about one week, my husband had driven off to work at 7am but then returned back to the cabin. He just wanted to change his clothes because he had helped a woman that had flipped her car. He and another man coming into the canyon had found this car on it's side in the middle of the road. The lady said she over corrected when she realized a mountain lion had jumped out suddenly from the North facing ridge. She almost drove off the road into the creek below and then over steered back towards the slope side and turned over her car. She was fine but she was very scared, She said it was like the cat was being chased to just leap off the knob of stumps next to the road like that. Then she was worried about getting out of her car too. She never mentioned Bigfoot but I always wondered since it was near that same thread creek where we had hiked that this happened.

I did try to talk to a neighbor many months later about the grumble growl and they laughed at me for bringing up the subject of Bigfoot. I was always meet with laughter about the matter if I ever thought to try. So I learned not to mention the incident again and even my husband was having trouble talking about the sound he knew he heard. The only time I asked him to describe to me what he heard or thought he heard, all he could respond with was a slight murmur noise as if he wanted to talk but could not begin to say something. Even his eyes became a blank stare while he thought about the noise and he would go into an uncomfortable state of mind. I learned to keep this event quiet. It has been at least 16 years later and people are more comfortable to speak with me about the supernatural. Whatever made that Growl at us cloaked itself invisible. It was right there on our Left and not visible to us. I've learned that dogs do not see the supernatural entity but mine sure fell for it with just audio. She was looking left and right for whatever it was. Finding the lean-to made it all come together for me. I just knew that we had a Big Brother that lived across the street and accepted that fact.

I have had some interesting experiences out Hwy 96 twice over with Bigfoot in mind. Three of them must have slept once under some cottonwoods where we parked our truck to sleep overnight by a river. My friend had left a campfire burning all night and I had trouble sleeping because of it. In the morning, I could smell their scent they left behind and found the 3 areas of human sized crushed down grasses. Another time I found a natural "tent" between 2 very short pine trees and it was fully surrounded by a matrix of limbs all woven tightly together. Not one branch could be easily pulled on to remove it. I just enjoyed finding that and left it. Then across the highway, I saw a black face in the thick growth of trees. I got binoculars out to focus on it but could see nothing with the aid of lenses. I could only see it with my own natural eyes. It was only the face looking back at me and the eyes were very dark in color but the shine from them was what made me take notice. So I gave up and just waved at it and shouted out "Hi Bigfoot".

Even at my own house in Humboldt County, I had repeatedly smelled the dampness of wet fur at early morning hours. My small breed dog would need to go outside and I would keep him on a leash because I knew we had a fox in the brambles. You could hear it bark out once in awhile and it once took all the pears from the one tree in my backyard when I went to town one afternoon. Finally after many years of smelling the damp fur odor, I got to hear something skidding to a halt directly in front of me. What I saw was a dog sized but ghostly toothy Hyena looking animal. It then bolted past me on my left side and behind me before disappearing into the berry brambles. I could clearly see it's side face profile of horrible long teeth hanging out of it's mouth. It's hind quarters were very low dragging and it had spotted fur. It moved like a gentle breeze floating past. It did not make any noise while it ran by passing over other gravel and leaves on it's way into the berries. That was in the Fall of 2008. There are other neat things I have seen in nature and captured one event in the sky above Mt Shasta in a photograph but did not notice it for almost one year later. I learned to keep these special moments more personal but don't mind if the company is right to hike in and show around where I know the wild things are. It would have to be another clean soul without weapons or ill intent.

Thank You for reading about my experiences.

DDW


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