Sunday, July 3, 2011

"The Lost Coast Tapes" Sequoias

Until this Bigfoot film comes out, you're going to periodically hear from me about it. I liked this little clip because it brought back some cool and scary memories...

I was living in California and my ex-husband's work friends liked to hike. I loved nature and loved sketching beautiful settings, so I thought it was a wonderful idea to go up to the Sequoia Forest and do some hiking, find some pretty spots to sit and sketch, and enjoy the woods, which are my favorite getaway.

So, we grabbed our backpacks and planned a hike into the redwoods. I had no idea what to expect. I grew up with rather typical forests of mixed trees and shrubs and such, but this wonderland felt as if I were walking into a fairy tale.

The redwoods are not only so enormous it's like walking amongst skyscrapers in New York, but the paths are well mulched from the bark and the ferns grow to such an exceptional size, it's like something out of "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The ground is wet and very dark and rich and the greens are extraordinarily vivid against the auburn of the tree trunks. Not much light filters in and with the canopy so far overhead, you have sense of enormous vertical space and a humbling perspective of being the tiniest thing in the forest.

While some of the hikers climbed inside the hollow of a huge tree and took pictures, I sat down and sketched out the forest floor, studying the way the gigantic trees seemed to make it hard for any other tree to exist within the forest. They blotted out everything, including us. I listened to the distant lashing of the pines hundreds of feet overhead like a distant applause and inhaled the pungent moist air. I didn't think I had ever or would ever experience anything quite so profoundly majestic. And, I was right. I never did.

We climbed further up the wide paths towards a ridge where I could see the other mountains in the distance, a wash of greens in the setting sunlight. The first breeze of the day reached me out on the ridge and I turned my head up and inhaled deeply and, out of nowhere, my mind thought of Bigfoot. Why was I thinking about the giant beast? Perhaps because I was amongst such huge trees and ferns that it seemed like a Jurassic setting in which some sort of mammoth animals would live and not the tiny furry creatures of the woods that surely lived there. Although, come to think of it, I had yet to see a single creature, even a bird...

I watched the ridge directly across from me, awash in the oranges and pinks of the sunset. For the first time that entire hike, I saw something move between the grouping of trees near a line of rocks, not far from a waterfall. It went past quickly and on two feet. I looked back for my group, but they were all dispersed as they drank their water. Perhaps one of them went exploring?

The strange prickling sensation a psychic is susceptible when they get information they don't want to hear, cropped up as goosebumps on my flesh. I put my backpack on, suddenly eager to find our camping spot. The leader took us over a hill into a protected area and proclaimed it was our spot.

Everyone sat around the fire, chatting and talking about their work place, something I found ironic since they worked hard and played hard and now they were mixing the two. So, I curled up in the nylon tent. The others slept out in the open, but I had almost no body fat and chilled easily. I slipped into my sleeping bag, fully dressed, and took the blanket my husband laughed about me carrying along and jammed it into the sleeping bag with me. After a few minutes of teeth chattering, I fell into a light sleep.

I woke up during the night to hear one of the men by the fire. I heard him agitatedly mumbling. "Oh, it's a bear. It's gotta be a bear." I scooted to the center of the tent, the dying fire lighting the nylon walls and held my breath to hear the man moaning and muttering. "Go away. You're a bear, aren't you? You're a bear?" His voice sounded quite frightened. I knew any moment I'd hear an attack. I felt around the tent and found my toiletries bag, reaching inside for the only thing I had, a deodorant spray can.

"Oh God! You're not a bear! What are you?" The man's anguished voice proclaimed. I slipped down inside my sleeping bag, heart pounding wildly. The sound of shuffling outside had my acute hearing on the alert, waiting for the sounds of a mauling. The campground fell into silence. A half hour ticked by with me deep inside my bag with a spray can, studying the tent for shadows from outside or sounds. Snoring ensued outside for another 15 minutes. Completely exhausted, I fell asleep.

The next day, I approached the man. "What happened last night?"

"What do you mean?"

"You were talking about a bear."

A woman interrupted. "I heard him too, but I was on the other side of the fire. I couldn't really see what he was talking about, but he was looking at the woods. Well, he was kind of half sitting up and studying the trees."

The man shrugged. "I was asleep. I guess I talk in my sleep. Maybe I sit up in my sleep. I was tired. I slept like the dead."

He left it at that, but the woman studied him strangely too as if she wondered about whether the man was seeing something in his sleep and forgot it or was just embarrassed for making a scene.

We hiked back out, but I admit that I moved myself up from the rear of the group to the middle. I couldn't stop the feeling we were being escorted from the woods. We stopped to drink and rest and instead of sketching, I studied the periphery, no longer seeing the enormous trees as quiet sentinels, but as hiding spots for a very large creature.

I never forgot how a place so mystical and otherworldly could also feel as though it harbored very large secrets, as well...

**Don't miss---tonight on Animal Planet they're showing "Finding Bigfoot" marathon.**


  1. Fascinating story. Wilderness romps can play interesting games with the mind. Lots of critters out there.

  2. Yeah, MM. I thought the place was weird. The entire time there, never saw a critter or even heard a bird. Now, that's just wrong.

  3. There is always something creepy about a piece of nature lacking critters...

  4. That is a great story. I would love to visit there someday!

  5. Melanie;
    The prettiest forest in all the world. You expect some kind of ancient mythical creatures to arise which is why I guess I was on Bigfoot alert. I wish I had been envisioning fairies instead, it would have been a better sleep night.

  6. Great story. I was scared reading it. The woods are much more creepy than a haunted place. I can't wait for our camping trip in September. It's going to be a blast.

  7. Cool story. The ex went to San Fran the year before we started dating and loved the huge redwoods. Always wanted to take me there. Wish I would have gone. Oh well! I get there one day!

  8. Sis, you would find it to be utterly mind blowing. There's nothing like it in all the world. As a lover of forests, it is top of the list.