I am trying to fill my weekends with outdoor activity before the crappy winter settles in, so I had originally made plans to go to Salt Fork. Then I started thinking that Salt Fork is over run with people and I decided to head to Beaver Creek State Park. I then found out that Pioneer Days was going on at Beaver Creek, so I got out my map and found another area that appeared conducive in location to all of the sightings in the area. I contacted Eric Altman
and we decided to make our own adventure to a place neither of us had ever been before.
Saturday morning I headed down RT 11, crossed over the border and arrived at Tomlinson Run State Park.
WE had obtained a trail map at the park headquarters and decided to take the most remote route, away from the campgrounds and picnic areas.
I can tell you that the trails here are not marked very well. Having never been there before we decided to blaze our own trail and headed uphill. It was about 75 degrees out with the humidity at about 900%.
We were soaked with sweat as we climbed higher and higher. Resting at each plateau. By the time we reached the top of Mt. Everest the, ahem, “hill” we were exhausted! Hiking along we didn’t notice anything even remotely squatchy but we were having a great time! There is nothing more exhilarating than being in the woods, at one with nature.
We noticed trees with blue spray-paint on them and assumed that was a trail so we descended gingerly, sidestepping, falling(me) and sliding down to the markers. I then noticed a sign on one tree that said “State Park Boundary” UGH we had hiked our butts right out of the park! LOL.
I have to tell you that this “hill” was very steep.
We realized we had to get back down to the creek so we continued downward. The leaves are falling now, hiding the ground underneath so it was very difficult to find a decent path or game trail to follow. I hit a patch of water run off and slid about 20 feet downhill on my arse! Damn that was fun!
I then got to another steep drop and began sidestepping my way down when I got too much momentum going! I was coming down too fast aimed directly at a huge tree. My right foot was in front and I had to jump to my left to brace myself for the impact. Wham! I succeeded in stopping my downward fall but my left knee popped from the pressure.
OWWWW! It took us about an hour and a half to finally make it to the creek. Even though my knee was screaming in pain, I never felt so alive!
As we sat there recuperating, three boys came down the real trail. We chatted a bit and showed them where we had come from and they shook their heads in amazement. They then played in the creek looking for crawfish under rocks and it reminded me of my youth, swimming in Tinker’s Creek, catching crawfish. Sometimes you just have to get outside and be a kid again. No work, no computer, fresh air, exercise! Do it!
I have been so busy with other things this summer that I really haven’t gone to Salt Fork as much as I would have liked so when Alan asked if I was going to Don Keating’s last meeting, I figured why not? Jesse had to work so I took the opportunity to be Alan’s sidekick for the day!
We got on the road at about 10 a.m. and headed south. We decided to head down to the Woodbury Wildlife Area before heading to Salt Fork. Alan forced me to eat at Wendy’s as it is supposedly a Fathom Frontiers ritual.
We arrived at our destination and set out for our hike to what we lovingly call Little Bigfoot Lake, I have no idea why, that’s a DeWerth thing I think.
The fall weather was absolutely gorgeous! We hiked to the lake and made our way a quarter around on the muddy banks looking for prints. By the way, it disgusts me the amount of litter the fishermen and others leave behind, such a disgrace, clean up after yourselves! Anyway, we couldn’t really go much further in the direction we were headed so we backtracked around the lake. I let out some tongue clucks and we immediately got a single response! It wasn’t a wood knock, it sounded like a single tongue cluck. We stood still listening for a few minutes when we heard some movement in the brush behind Alan’s right shoulder. He turned towards the movement and I stayed facing the lake. As he was turning, I saw 5-6 small berries fly over his head and plop onto the water’s surface! He then headed into the woods down one trail and I went up another trail. I found a bush that had the berries, I have no idea what kind they are. Dammit I need to take a Naturalist course!
They were very small and hard, not like a fruit, so I am probably incorrect in calling them berries, more like a seed I imagine, the size of a small pea.
We didn’t see or hear anything else, but it was still interesting.
We headed back up the trail then climbed up a steep hill that provided a great vantage point to the lake and lower ground. I found some unrecognizable scat that resembled human or dog but was filled with berries, no fur or bones. Yeah you know I poked and prodded that poop! Someone had to do it and Alan wasn’t interested! LOL.
While standing at the top of the hill we heard what sounded like two loud, deep breaths. We froze in place to listen but then a small plane started buzzing and a rifle began firing in the distance making it impossible to hear anything else.
We descended the hill and headed back to the car.
We drove to Cambridge and made the ritualistic stop at the famous Mr. G’s. I always fantasize that buying my lottery tickets at Mr. G’s will bring me luck. Well, it’s Sunday and I haven’t booked my flight to Santa Fe so you know how that turned out.
We expected to find scores of friends at the lodge for Don’s big send off, but there was no one there! It was 4 p.m. and the meeting wasn’t until 6, but still! So we headed to Theo’s in Cambridge for some dinner and to kill some time.
When we got back to the lodge, we went to the conference room and it was empty still save for two jackets draped over some chairs. Wow, I thought Don would have a bigger turn-out!
I went outside to soak up some sunshine when I noticed a middle aged couple with their son Patrick. Yeah I’m a people watcher. I was so touched by their actions. Patrick was in a wheel chair and the father was setting up his video camera on a tripod to take a family video. I turned around to watch them. As they all smiled into the camera, the mother spoke “Happy Birthday Patrick! We wanted to do something special for you so we are going to find you a Bigfoot! Happy Birthday!” I was so moved that when they finished I walked over to Patrick and I gently took his hand and shook it and said “Hi Patrick, I’m Sharon Lee, The Bigfoot Field Reporter.” His smile was priceless. His father then said “Oh you’re the one with the radio show and the website!” We chatted for a bit and his mother proudly showed me all of the “Happy Birthday” videos they were making for Patrick. We then headed back into the lodge, they were the owners of the jackets.
Eventually people began filing in, I would say no more than 25 were in attendance but half of them were friends and we hugged and caught up with each other and laughed like old times.
Seeing Jeff Crisman almost made me cry I was so happy that he is slowly recovering from his illness.
Don was setting up his equipment and was his usual cantankerous, ornery self. Shaking my head. Why do I even bother! LOL
Don announced that he was 99.9% retiring but if anyone had anything positive to share with him to send it his way. Same old Don.
Now for some more fun! Marc DeWerth, Mark Maisel, myself, Bea Mills, Alan and Bigfoot Dave were headed out for night ops! We went down Freedom road and hiked a little ways talking and laughing. Alan had his thermal camera and that was about the extent of the gear we needed. We split up into three groups of two, Marc and I were walking and talking then stopped in front of a large bushy area, ahead was a corn field. As we talked about how beautiful New Mexico was we suddenly heard a lot of movement in the brush and something was thrown just past Marc’s head. He quietly called for Alan to come over with the thermal. We resumed our normal conversation, but were really listening intently to sounds coming from the bushes. When Alan and Bigfoot Dave arrived I began walking towards the corn field to distance myself from the men just in case the creature was more interested in me.
Alan scanned the woods and bushes but couldn’t see anything. Mark and Bea joined the group. As I stood still I could hear movement and then something was thrown in my direction into the corn stalks. I walked down and got Bea and took her back to where I was standing. She was trembling so I held her hand and we calmly meditated while staring at the stars. We could sense that whatever was ahead of us began retreating.
It was now around 12:45 a.m. and we were all exhausted from our long day so we went back to the cars and collaborated on the events of the evening. We all were in agreement that something was out there, but who can say what it was.
The evening was beautiful, the research was fun and my friends are priceless!
I finally got home at 4 a.m. drained but satisfied.
No one can ever replace Jesse, but I had a great time trying!
Till next time!