Bigfoot Encounters

Joe Beelart's Notes
on the 2011 Oregon Sasquatch Symposium

To a respected associate: I didn't know I was supposed to do a write-up, or if I forgot, sorry; took no notes except mileage and for some odd reason, I didn't take a single photograph! I just enjoyed the Symposium and the people who journeyed to it.

Let's see, where to start ...  I didn't really want to go; but like last year when I didn't go – as I usually do for these things – I'd bought a ticket to support Toby.  So to make the road trip tolerable, I decided to drive mountain roads all the way from Estacada to the grounds, which were an old CCC site called White Branch Camp, now "operated" by a church as a youth retreat.

Thom didn't want to drive, so he asked to ride with me.  “OK, sure,” Thom's great company.  So Thom tells Cliff Barackman my plan and Cliff asks if he and his friend Guy {who Thom knows} could follow us.

We meet at Thom's homestead.  Guy, who is new to the "business,” decides to ride with me.  Since Guy is a champion of leading questions, I talked for over 3 hours to him.   Anyway, the drive over the top showed we are about a month late into summer.  It was really quite lovely, with much of the forest floor growth still in the lime-green of youth.

So, Thom rides with Cliff Barackman and gets the dirty low down on the Animal Planet TV shows.  {I haven't watched one.}.  From Thom‘s hear-say to me, the main gist was MM was all-out MM; whatever that means.  I've only had one dealing with MM which was eleven years ago and quite sufficient, thank you.  {Incidentally, can you think of more than one other Bigfooter instantly known by only his initials?}

The Camp

Finally, we gets there.  This place is out in the boonies.  On a map, look for McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, then go about 12 miles further east up the mountain.  People came from all over ...  longest trip I talked to was” New Jersey Gene;” quite a good character he was too.  Gimlin, Peter, and Scott the Translator didn't show.  I really wanted to hear Scott, but there were flood problems on/near his farm.

Setting was in the trees.  White Branch of the McKenzie and a nice waterfall Bigfooty steps away through trees.   The terrain was the upper end of a mountain notch, a V shaped setting.   On the north side was the old CCC building at top of V.   Same side down slope 30' and probably 200' away was the "chow hall."  There was a row of cabins in disrepair at the bottom of the V.  Our cabin, I think, had 14-16 bunks.  Carpenter ants crawled all over the place and I got a ton of bug bits during the night.  Little bastards were totally disrespectful where they bit too.  Insect spray stopped that pronto Saturday night.

Below the CCC hall {Made of big timbers with huge, large stone fire places at each end.} was a little amphitheater with split log seating upslope.   There's a big fire pit near the "stage" area.  In the flat of the notch was where people camped on grass.   As late arrivals drifted in, with rain clouds nigh, people chipped in to help set up tents before showers started.

Opposite side of V was a slope where kids snow sled.  My guess is the cleared grass area was almost 1/4 mile long tapering toward the top.  A tree covered ridge was above the "sledding" side of the V.  First night, after the first of three really bad chow hall meals, a lawyer drove all the way up from Eugene {Camp is about 62 miles from I-5.}.  He was first a policeman, then a lawyer.

Interesting story .... was hiking up terrace hills SW of Sisters to pay respects to the ashes of an old comrade.   Saw a form hiking down the benches above him.  All of a sudden they meet ! The man becomes concerned about his future and takes off for his car, which is miles away.   The beast follows him until it seems assured he's leaving.

The next morning was the worst meal I've ever had in my life ....  I ate out of my ice chest after trying one of the little sausages....  burnt pankakes, cold corn syrup, Koolaid for juice, and if you can believe it, they even ruined pots of Folgers coffee, which takes some doing.  Anyway, I think Toby talked to the people as food slowly improved after that.   Anyway, I guess some might think the food better than brats grilled over a fire, doused in mustard, along with beans and a cold beer; … but I don't.

Day Speakers

Now, I could be off on my speakers as for some reason I didn't take notes.  Thom kicked off the sessions and gave a great talk on why there's no acceptable proof to established science.  He suggested a paranormal aspect, especially through events occurring at a place I'll label “Alan and April's.  As a 25 year science teacher, Thom made a smooth comic delivery spiced with personal experiences from up the hill.

No, no, no ...  Cliff Barackman kicked off the day sessions.  He talked about how the Animal Planet TV shows were made using example shows already broadcast.  Actually very interesting with a great delivery.  Basically said, "get real," these guys are making a TV show to attract, entertain, and entice viewers to return.  Science is secondary.  He also talked about how nice the TV people were, and the long hours they worked each day.  After his talk, I've decided I want to make some effort to meet Bobo sometime.  Bobo & I traded emails and talked off and on over the years.  Interesting fellow.

Using a Florida couple's habituation situation, and the police video of one crossing the road in Georgia in the night {among others}, Barackman produced very positive evidence about the creatures existing down there.  Cliff, always with a smile on his face, has a somewhat droll, but humorous delivery.  It turned out their next TV show, which by contract he couldn't talk about in the slightest, was a film done from a fisherman's drift boat just miles downstream from the camp on the McKenzie River.

Then came Matthew Johnson who recounted his experience with a beast at Oregon Caves.   This was the first time I've heard Matthew speak and was left with the impression he is a somewhat sensitive man.   That is not a depreciating opinion; some people are harder than others in certain situations.   Also keep in mind, to him, with 20 years of hunting experience in Alaska, the event was a mind expanding experience, especially if the beast attacked.  He was not in a position to protect his family.  He told other things about the incident, like leading authorities to the area with one of them finding a clear 17" track just below the spot of the sighting.  There was other things caused him unsettlement during the event.

Johnson also spoke at some length about how to respect and properly interview witnesses through the use of leading questions rather than pointed ones.  He illustrated this by using examples of questions asked the lawyer the evening before, and from his own experience … he's described his sighting in various media hundreds of times.   Johnson, a career, published psychologist, also delved into basics on how startling events traumatize people, one of which happened shortly … lunch.

“Warm Koolaid!  I'll be there!” … but this time, it wouldn't cramp a dog.  I ate most my hamburger patty plain a pile of lettuce, no dressing, before I bailed the popsicle joint for my ice chest looking for cold tea.... almost didn't bring enough low cal green tea with citrus which I've taken to favoring for up-the-hill jaunts.

Ron Morehead started off the afternoon session to those who weren't still hurking in the woods.   He was great as always, talking on his and Al's Sierra Sounds.  He always produces something new.  I'm really glad I've met Ron.   Seems to me, he was the one who also asked me, "Haven't you bought a comb yet," as coiffure is not one of my on-going habits.  Anyway, Johnson's people had a computer set up for Power Point that actually worked.

Ron's show was heavily illustrated with both photographs from the 70s and topical points; just a great performance from a quietly spoken, naturally happy speaker.   Within his level of expertise, Morehead also talked about Scott Nelson's work translating the Sounds.

It rained most of Saturday.  And rain set off the next speaker's talk well.  Most of the time I sat by a window and looked out at the open sledding slope waiting for a beast to walk out of the woods, cross the glen, and go back into the woods with perhaps only a handful of us seeing it.  Maybe it did at night, or maybe it sat at the top of the slope watching what was going on below, thinking about the light bowls made in tents and the nut cases gathering to talk about it when if they'd just look up the hill, there it'd be.

Sitting next to me were the two mystery men of the event, examples of people who almost always show at BF meets { one turned out to be a policeman, the other a logger } from a forest area NE of Eugene.  The policeman talked, but not about the subject, while the other fellow was pretty much quiet, out-of-place almost.   They were friends.  What brought them to the conference remained a mystery although at various times, I engaged both in conversation but didn't ask the obvious question.

Next came our off-set speaker, Beth Heikkinen.   Beth came on at just the right time with her heartfelt, well-prepared words which tied family, life on the upper Olympic Peninsula, and Bigfooting together.   She had quite a number of slides to illustrate what I would characterize as events very unique to her, but fairly common as a class of topics in the literature.  She reported activity, in yet another area, which has been documented elsewhere.

One of her most interesting topics was the subject of the creatures befriending horses and braiding their manes.  {The Russian wrote about mane braiding … sorry, with all respect to his exceptional book, I just can't remember his name just now and according to my wife's wishes, my Sasquatchery books are buried, but according to her, not deep enough.}  Anyway, I wish Ms. Heikkinen had more on this horse hair braiding.  She brought along two samples cut from manes, which to my eye, were certainly not wind tangles.

Last came Mr. Henry Franzoni.  Henry "harrumphed" leaned against the podium and for an hour talked about the wonders of our search and our Barefoot Friends.  People barely moved { sleep does that}.  Henry used his professorial delivery to capture his audience through tales of Native American legends and experiences, his 20 plus years of involvement in the phenomenon, people he's known, and aspects of the creatures which do not appear in mainline science.

Misty Evening

I'm not sure what supper was .... seems like it resembled pork ribs, I think; at least that's what Alicia Bateman from Grays Harbor told me, after giving a specimen a thorough exam and then deciding, “What the …” I'm hungry.”   I've only complained about food twice in my life {The other was via letter to a good restaurant.}  Just for the record, I also spent five years in the USMC, with some time shipboard.  Anyway, I only brought along one bottle of scotch as an aperitif.

As the French say, I and several other folks consumed it toot's sweeters.   By the time he got to the cabin porch, poor Ron only got about a finger of the amber elixir.   Poorer yet, Jerry Hein, my good Bigfooting friend from California, heard the "hospitality room" was open.  By the time he got there, alas, all gone.

Oh well, he brought up bottles of Bigfoot ale which was really good.  A good ale and Tom Yamarone strumming his guitar singing Bigfoot songs one after another is a good time;  especially when Ole' Tom does the funny ones.  He was supposed to be a no-show, but just couldn't hold himself back.  Long drive that one.

The star of the evening round table discussion was Lee Trippett, a retired engineer ....  you know Lee by the little desk top v-string & metal ball "clack-clack" device he invented.  But more important, in the 50s & 60s, during forests adventures south of Eugene to Grants Pass, Lee started having experiences he could not explain.  But he didn't talk much about that.

Lee talked about the future, and mainly about machines that can run continually off natural, open energy and how important they will be to us {A perpetual motion machine?}.  Obviously hidden in his “futures” topic was, “Will the creatures play a part in it?”  Thom Powell and Henry Franzoni carried the conversation more toward the focus of the Symposium, but as usual, quiet spoken Lee pretty much stole the show.  Due to rain, the round table was in the hall.  They had fires crackling in both huge fireplaces.

I must say, I got a case of the wanderers during the round table, went off, opened a bottle of wine and shared it with fellow wanderers listening to light rainfall in the trees and dark.   Then, after the round table, a bunch of folks drove twenty minutes for a night hike.   Good On'ya Mates, but no night walks in this #$%& weather for me, even though I like to walk at night in all weather.

It was to bed in the bunk.  Turned on the heater a little this night.  Was up early and got to the chow hall for coffee an hour before it opened.   Some of us sat around getting started.  One was Robert White from Bellevue, Washington.  Robert goes out by himself too much I think, even though he has a lot of safety gear.   He says that's what I do {By reputation, and I do.}, but I explained to him I'm me and he's he.   So we are going to go up the hill together a couple of times this summer.   Robert thinks nothing of driving to Oregon for two nights out.

Anyway, Thom woke everybody up sometime after 3AM stomping  in from the hike, or maybe it just sounded like stomping … Thom's a polite fellow.  Later he said they went up to Robinson Lake where there were still 3' snow drifts anywhere the sun didn't shine {I suppose someone could make a joke out of that ... ‘specially fellows who have hot lovey dovies who despise Bigfootery.}

Getting' On

Things really changed in the kitchen.  Sunday breakfast was good camp food, though it was still youth camp food.     Brightened the whole day as I'm a breakfast person.   It really took a long time to say good bye all around.  People kept walking around, taking pictures, not wanting the event to end, but it must.

The drive back through the mountains was super.   Cliff Barackman decided to stay and camp in the area for a couple more nights, so Thom and Guy managed to stuff all their "stuff" into my truck and we had a really cozy {Better word than crowded I guess.} drive back, ‘specially since none of us had a shower or brushed our chompers from what went through them for three days.  Lots to talk about.  The three hours plus went zip quick.

One especially bright note: Thom reported selling 20 of his new book, Shady Neighbors.  It's about baseball and Bigfoot.  Has some hilarious passages.  Bobbie, if you want a copy, ask him for his "show special."  I've been reading this book since it was pages of unspaced draft.  It's really worthy, so I kept after Thom to finish it which he finally did.  Think of it, two American icons, finally together … almost impossible to believe … no, you don't need answer that.  Anyway:

Good job Toby Johnson, good job.  Your 2011 Oregon Sasquatch Symposium was a stellar success.

Joe Beelart
West Linn, Oregon
July 2, 2011

Ps: It was truly a pleasure to see Toby go from very worried on Friday, to a little relieved on Saturday, to happy on Sunday.  I was sitting way up front, so on Saturday morning, saw he was so nervous he almost broke into a sweat giving the introduction speech.  By Sunday morning, Toby was completely calm.  He shouldn't have worried.  All guests wanted the event to be a success; their spirit would have overcome obstacles.  He and his crew worked hard on the symposium.  Things turned out right.

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