April 1, 1999 - Thursday

Imprints Up a Slope

I can't believe that our usual Bigfooting day is on April 1st!! If we were in the mind, Steve the trapper and Cliff and I could put on some real stuff! For instance:

  • On the Fish Creek walk, that limb on the log below us really looked like a figure walking across the log. We could have photographed it, but didn't.

  • Could do tracks…URP.

  • Record the new howling device from a distance…..not bad.

That's not our style and we don't need the attention. Besides, it does nothing for anyone to fake things.

Steve got a 5 gallon paint can and some parachute cord to replace the coffee can caller. Before we left, we tried it out in my garage. The resonance was beyond excellent. Set all the neighbor's dogs barking. Later, across the street asked me what we were doing in the garage. She could hear it plain in her house.

Picked up Cliff at his house and went up to Joe Site 2 past Indian Henry. Snow was about 6" deep, just enough to be uncomfortable if you forgot your Sorrels at home like I did. I didn't explore much with them because I didn't want wet feet too early in the day. The bank impression from a month ago was still there and very clear! Cliff was quite impressed and he said he didn't think they were elk tracks at all. The toe hold marks weren't left, but the rest showed good. Still lots of elk and deer tracks.

The snow was deeper above us and a truck had gone up and come back, leaving ice tracks, so we didn't go on up to Joe Site 1. Cliff said we should try the Collawash basin.

We went high up the Collawash River. Beautiful as always. Big smooth rock cliffs and dirt slides and then the river roiling over the rocks and in places deep and quiet. The lower Collawash River canyon is about as pretty a place as a person can go to in the hills.

We went south up past the third bridge for several miles. On the way, we tried out the 5 gallon bucket call and got an excellent echo and throw across the valley. It was a quiet, cold day. Something replied from quite a ways off, a coyote? Whatever it was replied several times to our call.

Coming back - I was on the passenger side on the right - I saw a series of imprints going up a steep dirt slide just south of the bridge. We stopped and looked them over. It was a very steep and soft land slide slope about 40' wide and about 100' high with no vegetation. On one side was a rocky almost cliff area and the other side was steep and covered with low brush leading up into the tall timber. The imprints went up the slide and appeared to go off one side into the forest.

While the series was very easy to view, nothing was perfectly clear due to the soil condition. It appeared that the imprints were fresh and had not been damaged by rain. They certainly did not look like climbing elk or deer. Those types of prints were clear along the road at various places.

I scrambled up one side of the set of imprints. I took two "steps" for every imprint step. The ground was very loose. Steve the trapper went up on the other side of the imprints. He's 6' and his long down hill stride almost equaled the length of the imprints up stroke.

Below the road and the slide, down a short steep embankment, there was an overhang "cave." A huge rock had pulled out of the cliff and dropped to the river bottom making the overhang. The base of the overhang was very rough with broken rocks over much of its area, except on the south or far side. There were no tracks or obvious bedding area.

We didn't do too good on this one. This was a problem we had already experienced and would repeat. We would go up not expecting to find much and not bring along a good set of gear. Then we would get in a hurry and leave. While we were optimists about the search, we just didn't plan too well and unfortunately, this pattern of behavior lasted throughout the season.

Anyway, we didn't take any photographs, we just wrote the imprints off as one big bad ass bull elk humping up the slope. We didn't measure anything. We didn't carefully explore the overhang. We didn't go up into the woods to look for more imprints.

One reason was that Trapper Steve had to be back home by 2:30 to be there when his girl got out of school. His wife was gone.

On the drive back, we got to talking about the imprints and the locale. It gradually occurred to us that we were looking into Bigfoot and that we had screwed up what might be something Bigfooty. We decided, without setting dates or details, that this was something that needed more investigation.

Weather note: cold and overcast down below the Ripplebrook ranger station. Broken clouds and nice up high. Up high was probably the first really nice day so far.

Roads: 224, 4620, 46, 63.

Post script to this day. On Saturday, April 3rd, Steve called me. He had been thinking and was concerned that we were taking indications like the soft bank imprints too easy. Not that they meant anything, mind you, just that when we saw stuff like that we should look into it deeper. He said we should record what looks out-of-place to us and in our experience. He also said we should look for the small stuff, the little things that are out of place. He said he thought we should take the trips up the hill a little more seriously. Look at what we had found already - nothing conclusive or big, but lots of little questionable items.

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