December 16, 1998

Hundreds of Imprints on Whale Head
( Read additional field notes: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] )

With Cliff Olson. Clear, bright. Took my Toyota pickup (white 1998 compact 4x4 with extended cab, V6 engine, automatic transmission and air-conditioner). Went to Fish Creek then to Whale Head (see maps). Not particularly looking for anything, just a nice day and wanted to go up the hill.

On top of Whale Head road, found several hundred large impressions in 10-14" snow. Measured longest stride (heel to heel) 56" in many places. Cliff first noticed them in snow next to road. My Sorrel boots had room left over inside the "tracks," impressions. No toe marks in tracks. Had snowed about 1/2" probably the night before.

Christmas tree hunters had taken some trees. (Area of wild noble fir type trees.) The prints were made over their tracks and cut across tire tracks in the snow. Impressions were all one size -about 18" plus long by 9" plus wide. They all showed where "toes" had impressed in the snow at the bottom of the print. There were no drag marks on the snow between the impressions. The snow was somewhat firm, but not melted at all. It was well below freezing and there were icy spots on the road.

The imprints were not made by snow falling from trees, rocks absorbing heat, etc. Due to their size, no drag marks and no hoof prints - they certainly were not made by elk or deer or bear. Bears should be hibernating, besides they would have made large drag marks.

Whatever made the imprints, picked up its feet and set them down. The imprints appeared to be about 1 1/2' wide, except where it turned around.

Cliff first noticed the prints about 100 yards from the pick-up. They came out of the steeper area to the north side of the road, wandered around the road and then went into the scrub on the south side of the road. There were hundreds of imprints in the scrub. It appeared that the maker could step over trunks, bushes, etc. that Cliff and I had to scramble over.

The imprints then came out of the brush, went west along the road, curved with the road to the left (south) and went up the gentle incline about 200 yards. Then the impressions showed a very clear standing, turning around and looking out toward the Willamette Valley, Portland and SW Washington.

The view was spectacular! We were at about 3,800' according to Cliff. The air was very clear and quiet. Steam from the Camas paper mill, the St. Helen's paper mill and the Longview plants was clearly visible to the N & NW.

Cliff and I were both startled by the size and number and consistency of the imprints. Unfortunately, we did not have a camera along. Cliff had his casting kit, but there wasn't anything solid enough to cast. Photos would not have shown much anyway, except holes in the snow. Probably a video camera would have been best.

We found more of the impressions coming out of the tall timber and walking along the road on the SE side of the rock quarry. Cliff and I had walked the hill top loop for a little exercise and because the truck couldn't have made it through the snow.

We weren't expecting to see anything like the imprints and it made us excited. We planned on coming back the next day with cameras and tapes, but snowing stopped that. It is a treacherous drive up to the top of Whale Head.

See the attached map of the area and how the tracks were laid out from my notebook.

( Read additional field notes: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] )

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