Monday, February 26, 2018

Finding Bigfoot Feet-On Futon or "The Shroud of Noti"

Noti, Oregon track print.  Photo courtesy of Chris Minniear.
    When you're Cliff Barackman, you don't have to go looking for bigfoot. Bigfoot will find you...or at least bigfoot footprints will find you.  Which is precisely what happened the other day when Cliff received a message from an alert rural Oregon resident who found a couple of very unique footprints while making an unscheduled pit stop on State Hwy. 36 about eight miles out of Noti (pronounced "no tie") in Oregon's Coast Range Mountains.
     As she headed into the bushes, this woman noticed an abandoned futon-style mattress that some "low life" had dumped by the side of the road, rather than pay the money to dispose of it properly at a  dump. To her surprise, this alert woman observed two very large, nearly perfect, muddy footprints that were impressed upon the dirty beige linen fabric that covered the abandoned futon.

The futon beside Oregon Highway 36. Photo by Thom Powell
     In this day of cable TV bigfoot shows, this unknown woman of Noti, Oregon  had learned that there are people, some who are quite local,  who really care about such peculiar occurrences as curiously large bare footprints.  After a little on-line searching this woman, whose name I do not have permission to use (yet) located the contact information of my favorite Bigfoot TV show host, Cliff Barackman.
     Curiously, all of this took place on February 16th, just two days after the sixth anniversary of the London trackway discovery.  The London trackway was a track find of well over a hundred track in a lake near London, Oregon on February 14, 2012. Oddly, this new track find near Noti was only forty miles distant from London and it occurred at the very same time of year. One wonders whether the big feet-on the futon might be a match for the London tracks, in which case we may be dealing with a sasquatch with exhibitionist tendencies.  If so, I think we finaaly have a cryptid who would be a good fit for regular TV appearances.
Big feet on futon.  Step: 48", Foot 13".  Photo by Chris Minniear
     Mind you not everyone considers the London trackway to be authentic.  Even Cliff, who collected seventy tracks from that site, doubts their authenticity.  I, on the other hand, am stalwart in my view that they are the real deal. My reasons are articulated on a another blog post that can be found in the archive of this blog (see: London Trackway, 2010 post). In any event, this possible connection to the London trackway is but one of a few weird coincidences that surrounds this new recent track-find near Noti.
    The local weather in the Coast Range was particularly foul all week, so Cliff correctly supposed that he needed to move fast. He knew he needed to preserve the evidence, however good or bad, before it was lost to the relentless rain and snow. So, Cliff, being the consummate field man, wisely called for back up help.  He contacted veteran local researcher and all-around great guy Chris Minniear and asked him to check this situation out, post haste.  Chris and his brother dropped everything and took off driving. Directions in hand, they travelled the local by-ways, trying to resolve the contradictions in the directions. They never did.
Futon with prints removed.  photo by T. Powell

     Coincidentally, Chris had noticed in his daily travels that some low-life had dumped  an old mattress (a futon, really) at a wide spot on the road along Long Tom Creek only a few miles east his home along State Hwy. 36.
    "How pathetic!" Chriss remember's thinking.  He certainly didn't make the connection immediately, but after a round of clarifications between Cliff and the original witness, Chris was amazed to find the site of the reported foot prints was indeed the very same place where the futon-style mattress lay abandoned, just down the road from his home.  Amazing!
     No time for wonderment, though.  There was work to do. Chris got busy and took photographs, then step-length measurements, then foot measurements, then a thorough search of the area. Then, like the good, science-based field man that he is, Chris cut the two foot prints out of the fabric that covered the mattress.  He took them home to dry.
      Nothing special caught his eye as Chris searched the immediate vicinity; just the familiar array human roadside detritus: beer cans, slurpee cups, empty whippet (nitrous oxide) canisters, and a whole bunch of other trash strewn along the highway and the banks of the Long Tom River and the adjacent highway.
    With the evidence safely secured in Chris Minnear's competent care, Cliff was able to wait until the weekend to make the 100 mile journey from Portland to Noti. That Sunday, three of us headed south and got with Chris Minniear and his wife Susan.
Motoring south to the scene.  (Photo by Melissa Barackman)
In a downpour, we again surveyed the scene and found absolutely nothing of additional interest.  But, the time spent scouting around in the rainstorm underscored the value of having Chris collect the evidence in a timely manner.  Had Chris not moved when he did, the prints would have been seriously degraded if not completely obliterated by the week-long deluge.
     As it was, Chris handed us, wrapped in paper, a couple of true  foot prints. Indeed, these impressions in linen fabric were prints, not casts. Unlike every other track find I have ever been involved in, there were not foot impressions that were cast in plaster. The were prints on a fabric canvas of sorts, and the artistic medium of choice was mud, not ink, oil, or acrylic paint. Amazingly, we were also being handed prints of both feet.  That almost never happens.   
     The coarse weave of the linen fabric covering the filthy futon seems to have precluded any hope of capturing fine-scale dermal ridge detail.  Still, foot size (13') and a step length  (48") were perfectly preserved. As can be seen from the photos, Cliff measured the foot size as 13.75" for the right foot and 13" for the left foot impression. Some may contend that these are within human range, although on the very high end of the human range. More telling, perhaps, is the surprising width of the feet ( 6" at the ball of the foot).  Even more interesting is the splay of the toes: this is indicative of a pair of feet that have never worn shoes. Note the particularly wide splay of the smallest (5th) toe on each foot.  By comparison, when shoes are worn, the little toe becomes permanently adducted (that is pushed in and folded) against and sometimes under the fourth toe. All the other toes get similarly scrunched together (adducted) by the confining nature of shoes. Conversely, feet that have never been bound by shoes have toes that are abducted (spread out) as is clearly seen in the two prints that Chis Minniear collect on Cliff's behalf.

      The clarity of the prints and the foot anatomy on display says to me that these prints are the real deal, and a prints impressed onto a relatively clean piece of white cloth.  Truly a remarkable, one-of-a-kind find which only happened as a result of a  coordinated effort by experienced local researchers Cliff and Chris.  Team work at it's finest.
     On a different note, am I the only one who finds myself wondering whether this was a totally random event? Or, might it be that these prints have something to do with the fact that Chris and his lovely wife Susan live only a couple miles down the road?  Might the discussion by Toby Johnson of the anniversary of the London trackway be somehow related?  It has been said that there are no such things as coincidences. Or, it is also said that,"coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous."  Here I go again, showing my paranormal tendencies.  In any case, the real credit should go to the swift and effective action by not only Cliff and Chris, but also the original witness, whom I would love to name but whom I do not yet have permission to name. 
      I have a feeling we have not heard the end of this story, but it sure was a worthwhile way to spend a really rainy winter day in Oregon.  Most of the way home, as we motored north on I-5, we made up titles for the chapter I might someday write about this episode.  "Finding Bigfoot's big foot-on futon",  "Big Foot-on futon," and several other combinations of those syllables had us laughing.  Readers are invited to submit other combinations.  One of mine was 'The shroud of Noti'.  Is that too obscure and too religious of a reference?. I have a lot of religion in my background.  Are folks still generally aware of 'The Shroud of Turin.' Is it blasphemous to apply that religious reference to a bigfoot situation?  If so, I apologize.
      As we motored north in the waning daylight, windshield wipers slapping the rain aside, I reached into the back of the jeep and pulled out the two pieces of cloth with their breath-taking impressions upon them, so dutifully cut and dried by Chris Minniear. As I cradled them delicately in my lap, trying not to touch them with my bare hands, I was momentarily awe-struck. The only think I could think of was that this must be what it felt like to hold in one's hands an item of huge significance like the Shroud of Turin: that being cloth that presumably wrapped Jesus' body after crucifixion.
   Cliff Barackman and Chris Minniear were kind enough to share with me the photographs seen here of the Shroud of Noti.

Foot print with Bic lighter for scale (3 1/8").  This photo was taken by the reporting witness and forwarded to Cliff.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pending California Bigfoot Lawsuit: "Inherit the Windigo"

Perhaps you have heard. A California woman is suing her home state to force state resource and wildlife agencies to officially recognize that sasquatches (bigfoots) do exist.
     Make no mistake: I applaud the efforts of this woman, Claudia Ackley, and her co-plaintiff, Todd Standing.  I sincerely hope they succeed in forcing the State of California to officially recognize the mysterious but real beings we variously describe as bigfoot, sasquatch, yeti, windigo, or even the abominable snowman.  But, do I expect them to win this landmark lawsuit? Not a chance.
     Call me cynical, but we have been down this path before, or atleast a path that is very similar to this one, and in the past, it led absolutely nowhere. On the bright side, we won't have to wait very long to find out how solid the legal footing is for the Ackley vs. State of California litigation.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 19th, which is just one short month away.
And, as we impatiently wait for resolution of this most intriguing matter, lets examine a few of the details and their implications.
     To begin with, Ms. Ackley and her two daughters were hiking in the San Bernardino

Claudia Ackley
Mountains near Lake Arrowhead, California, when they had a fairly ordinary bigfoot sighting (if you can call any bigfoot sighting "ordinary").The mom, Claudia Ackley describes seeing a sasquatch checking out the mother-daughters trio from its perch up in the branches of a tree. She describes the creature as hair-covered and massive. One of the daughters saw what she felt were two juvenile sasquatches.  She snapped a cell phone photo which was typically blurry.  Ms. Ackley estimated that the creature she saw weighed about 800 pounds.  We assume that the limb upon which the creature was perched was quite stout.
     I will offer that, as a collector of sasquatch sighting reports, this kind of claim is not as weird as it sounds. Based on numerous sighting reports I have gathered, sasquatches do climb trees and there are a number of historical sightings of sasquatches with arboreal inclinations. I'd hate to have to prove in in a court of law, but it is true.
     Anyway, the hikers were scared silly and got the hell out of there but the whole experience conflicted her greatly so Ms. Ackley reported the sighting to rangers and bureaucrats at California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.  Predictably, they poo-poo'ed her sighting as nothing more than a tree-bound bear. That the California Department of Fish and Wildlife failed to take her seriously irked Ms. Ackley and she decided to do something about it.
     This is where it begins to appear that Ms. Ackley wasn't just another ordinary witness of random sasquatch activity. I suspect she had some prior interest in or knowledge of the subject because she connected with, of all people, Mr. Todd Standing.
Those of us who are regulars in the 'bigfoot biz' know Todd Standing quite well. Anyway, some lawyering was done and before long, Todd and Claudia Ackley filed a lawsuit which alleges that:
     1.) Ms. Ackley's reputation has been diminished by the state's insistence that such creatures as the sasquatch do not exist.
     2.) The state is putting the public at risk by failing to recognize the sasquatch and the obvious danger they pose to the outdoor-loving public and,
    3.) The sasquatch are clearly threatened or endangered in some way by human activity in general and forest practices in particular.  The state needs to do more to safeguard the sasquatches' presumptive habitat.

     This is my favorite element of the whole lawsuit: the suggestion that the sasquatch are, on the one hand, a threat to our safety, and on the other hand the sasquatch themselves are equally threatened by our activity!  You gotta admire Standing and Ackley for covering all the bases.  It's also the perfect conundrum.  If this lawsuit does prevail, one way or the other, the State of California has a lot of protecting to do.
     I further predict that this conundrum, and a few others like it, will ultimately doom the whole lawsuit. But the biggest hurdle that the plaintiffs in ths lawsuit face is the expectation that they can demonstrate that bigfoot creatures exist in the first place.  As the kids say these days, "Good luck with that!"
     Fear not. Todd Standing to the rescue. A resident of Alberta, Canada, Todd has been active in the bigfoot field for several years now, and he, like many others, has aggressively pursued an evidence-gathering agenda for some time now. Todd is also an aspiring film-maker with a collection of pretty questionable video clips of purported sasquatches. Todd also claims to have had a whole bunch of close-range interactions with sasquatch beings in secret locations somewhere in Canada.. Todd confidently states in a  recent newspaper piece that, in addition to his video evidence,  he plans to bring to the courtroom, "a whole mountain of evidence...Ph.D's, wilderness experts, wildlife biologists, and fingerprint experts." Todd intends to construct a bullet-proof case for sasquatch existence (pun intended). Boy, is he in for a surprise.
     I can already envision the feature-length movie that will ultimately emerge from this amusing story.  It'll be sort of an Inherit the Wind remake but instead of  Spencer Tracy playing Clarence Darrow as John Scopes' lawyer in the famed Scopes Monkey Trial, it'll be Liam Neeson playing Todd and Claudia's lawyer in a remake entitled, Inherit the Windigo.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
     Whatever happens, I'll be watching.  I just hope Todd and company are ready from some hard-ball opposition from the other side of the courtroom aisle.  Count on whatever 'evidence' the modern-day Clarence Darrow presents to be roundly discredited. If things even get that far without the whole case being dismissed, the expert testimony will be vigorously challenged, utterly impugned, and thoroughly contradicted by competing 'experts' testifying on behalf the Great of State of California. Trust that the reputation of all of the plaintiffs' so-called experts will be trashed, since this tactic is the one we have seen the most often applied in the past.  If you cannot refute the testimony, just discredit the experts and especially the witness (Ms. Ackley) with  ad hominem attacks on her character and reputation.  Things will get this ugly for the simple reason that there is so much at stake.
     One big issue which I think will stop the lawsuit cold is the un-provable assertion that sasquatches are a real threat to public safety.  I doubt that admissible evidence of this point can be found, much less shown to be compelling in the eyes of the court.  In the California incident, the mother  and daughters left the scene without physical harm. This is the way virtually every sasquatch encounter ends.  Ms. Ackley may have experienced mental trauma but good luck proving that. Indeed, good luck finding any persons anywhere, living or dead, who were physically harmed by a sasquatch in any provable manner. Mind you, there probably are a few such folks.  For example, in 1959, some college-student mountain climbers were killed near Dyatlov Pass in Russia.  Yeti-like beings were suspected, but whoever or whatever they were, the perpetrators in that tragic situation were utterly unverifiable at the time. If such a situation was submitted into evidence, I predict that the judge rules it "inadmissible hear-say".
    What's may actually be admissible as evidence is the true fact that, on October 6, 2013, a physicist name Alyof Krost disappeared from a group hike on a trail at Arrowhead Lake, the same vicinity as Ackley's bigfoot sighting.  Dave Paulides brought this case to my attention when he read this post. He told me he that he personally investigated that case at length, since it was one of several curious cases of a physicist disappearing from the wilderness. In this particular case, the 62-year-old hiker/physicist named Krost disappeared from the Pinnacle Trail off Lake Arrowhead amidst an organized hike comprised of twenty hikers and two guides. No trace of him was ever found. 
    Perhaps Todd and Claudia's s legal team can add this item of circumstantial evidence (courtesy of Dave Paulides) to the "mountain of evidence" that they are preparing.  It won't help if they can't also prove bigfoots exists, and that will be difficult unless they can produce a body. (Where is Rick Dwyer when we need him?)
     Whatever evidence of bigfoots' existence they do plan to submit, I sure hope it's better than the video clips and photographs Todd has been showing around at presentations like the Sasquatch Summit in 2015.

A still from one of Todd Standing's videos. Admissible in court as evidence of sasquatch existence?
I don't think so.
     The Standing and Ackley legal team should also be prepared for some very aggressive opposition since resource extraction concerns (mining and timber) have a great deal to lose by formal recognition of a new species of indigenous North American primate, even though I would assert that the sasquatch are in no way endangered by humans.  But something is going on in the woods, because government agencies have suppressed their knowledge of bigfoot/sasquatches for many decades.  One can count on the fact that such government agencies and corporate interests would willingly contribute to the defendants' (State of California) position that no such species exists and consequently, that Ms. Ackley's perceived slight at the hands of the State of California has no merit.
     And finally, there is the one remaining hurdle: showing that the sasquatch is, in the words of the court document, an "indigenous mammal primate...a giant, hairy hominoid or primate."  I remember the days when I thought the sasquatch was just an undiscovered primate.  I was sure that if I put a few remote cameras around in the woods, I would get pictures to show the world and the case would be closed.
     We in the 'bigfoot biz' have been working that angle for half-a-century now and we have one good film clip to show for our efforts; the Patterson-Gimlin Footage. I hope that clip is found to be admissible evidence in this lawsuit, but I doubt it. Even if it is, it isn't at all clear what that famous footage purports to show.  Is it a costume, an ape, a primitive person, or a ghost?
     My own understanding of the sasquatch phenomenon has changed markedly over the years. Currently, my view is that the sasquatch are a lot closer to people than apes, but they aren't even people in the strictest sense.  They are mysterious, ghostly, spirit beings that need no protection from humanity and in any case, are no particular threat to humanity.  Can I prove any of this? Hell, no. If I were Todd I would stick with the bogus 'ape' scenario for the same reason it is embraced by so many self-anointed researchers of this mysterious topic; because it is the most sale-able.  True? No. Just saleable to a court that has not studied this vexing issue in any depth whatsoever.
     But the more one does study this issue, the stranger and more confusing it becomes. When that happens, most throw up their hands and declare the subject to be either unsolvable, or imaginary, or both.  But there is indeed another knowable truth beneath this seemingly intractable mystery.
     After years and years of reading, investigating, reading, investigating, and then writing, I
feel like I finally stumbled upon the solution.  It gets a little complicated so I wrote it all down and published it  in a book entitled Edges of Science.
     (One can buy it on Amazon or through a link on this website (click here).)
     Are any of my conclusions of any use to Todd Standing and Claudia Ackley in their most worthy lawsuit? Doubtful.  I hope and pray that they do prevail in this admirable legal endeavor, even as I harbor strong doubt that the judge of their legal case will find in their favor.  I'm not a lawyer but I think I would motion for a jury trial and whip up a bunch of courtroom drama for the sake of the jury, just like in Inherit the Wind.
     In an article published about Todd in a Canadian paper, the reporter quoted Todd as saying, "We can't lose.  How can we lose?"  I met Todd at Ocean Shores.  He was a perfectly nice fellow.  I'm cheering for him.  Still, from all of my experience with the bigfoot topic and in light of the way I expect the court to view the whole bigfoot topic, I would respond,  "You can't win.  How can you win?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Books Are Not Dead (Yet!)

Reading books may not be dead but, in a modern middle school, sometimes the readers look that way.

Thom Powell was covering for an absent librarian the other day when something alarming caught his eye. The girl was sprawled out on the library carpet, not moving.  He rushed over.  (Bloggers refer to themselves in the third person.  It's a search engine thing,) 
 To his relief, the student was showing signs of life: she was holding a book. 
   "Are you OK? he asked. 
   "Yeah, my back just hurts from sitting all day.  It feels good to lie here like this."
    "Well, then...." was all he could think to say.. After all, she was reading and causing no apparent problems except for the possibility of getting carpet cooties in her hair. He decided to leaver her be.
     One sees some strange things in a modern library, and one of them is the observation that most people in there appear to be getting their information from computer screens rather than books, per se.
     Is that a bad thing? It is difficult to be say.  Whether it is a screen or a book, they're still reading.  It does seem that there are exceptions to this trend toward computers as the primary information delivery systems. There are still a lot of people, even kids, who still enjoy books. In at least one Portland, Oregon middle school, lots of kids are reading books.
    Amazingly enough, sometimes they even read aloud to each other! We have pictures to prove it. 
    Let the record show that our future leaders are still least some of them.

Have you ever seen a scene that warms the heart more than a middle schooler reading aloud to her attentive fellow students? Note the title of the book: a kid friendly volume that can be found elsewhere on this blog.   Is it cheating to trick kids into doing more reading by regaling them with fictional  tales of the sasquatch?  You make the call, but it's hard to argue with results.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thom Powell Interviewed by the Sasquatch Syndicate Team

Two digital media professionals on a fishing trip in the Pacific Northwest stumbled upon an intricately decorated clear cut somewhere way out in the woods.  They described this on the air and a listener immediately called in to inform them, to their surprise, that they were describing a bigfoot deal. Always up for exploring a good controversy, down the rabbit hole they went. That was 1992 and here they are 25 years later, still a bit puzzled but still exploring this hirsute and enigmatic mystery.    

Thom Powell first met Chuck at a 2016 bigfoot conference in Bremerton, WA. From this chance meeting came an enduring connection.  Over a period of months, Thom and Chuck continued a dialogue that gradually led Chuck right over the edges,  The 'Edges of Science', that is, which happens to be the title of Thom Powell's new book.

Soon after the signed copy of Edges of Science landed in the hands of for Chuck's son Hunter, the Sasquatch Syndicate was born.  Two years have now elapsed and Chuck and Paul have just taken things to a whole new by presenting this exclusive podcast interview of Thom Powell.

Whether you are of the 'flesh and blood' ape or homin camp, the paranormal, or even the alien view of sasquatch origin, we have something for you. This wide-ranging interview with Thom Powell covers the numerous and varied facets of the sasquatch mystery. The interview is fun, it is open, and it is a definite paradigm shifter.  

You can find the whole interview at the Sasquatch Syndicate Website or you can listen to it it just by clicking on this link

The Sasquatch Syndicate, by the way, is a Washington State non-profit organization that promotes research efforts that contribute to the wider recognition of the sasquatchs' existence, no matter what they turn out to be.
Signed copies of Edges of Science can be ordered from the author at this link. Unsigned copies can be purchased at but if you listen to Chuck and Todd's whole podcast interview with Thom Powell, you might not even need to buy the book.