Sunday, May 28, 2017

"The Bigfoot Mystery: The Adventure Begins" by Robert Leiterman (an excerpt)

Could Bigfoot exist in the wilds of Northwestern California, or are they just the essence of Folklore and Mythical Legends? What would you do if?...

While on a late afternoon hike, along a meandering trail through a cool, misty, ancient redwood forest, you stumble upon an unsuspecting creature. While closely watching the creature, at the bottom of the canyon, you quickly discover that there is something incredibly wrong, that the creature looked too human-like. Within minutes, your tranquil scene quickly turns into one of terror. In your attempt to escape, the confusing scene, the creature detects you and your mystery begins.

You begin a journey to answer many confusing questions about your incredible, bone chilling mysterious encounter in the redwoods.

Find out how two teens worked through their unbelievable encounter and discovered more than they ever dreamed they would.

The following excerpt is from "The Bigfoot Mystery: The Adventure Begins" by Robert Leiterman.

The two brothers were excited about their late, Saturday afternoon hike, up one of their favorite trails at Grizzly Gulch Redwoods State Park. They anxiously pictured themselves tackling the well used trail; which leisurely worked its way, away from the Van Duzen River, through a mature redwood forest and up a narrow canyon over looking the graveled bed of Grizzly Creek below. 

"The trail can wait until you finish your lunch!" admonished their mother. She knew her boys would forget about eating, sleeping and doing their chores if she didn't remind them. They always get this way before a hike in the woods and they had been planning this one all week. 

She wasn't worried; she knew her boys were comfortable in the outdoors and by now, after many family visits to the park were very familiar with the area. 

The family had moved to the area at the beginning of the summer and made it a point to regularly explore and enjoy the beauty and solitude of the nearby Redwood Park. They discovered the park by accident during a weekend outing and had been coming back to its peaceful, wilderness setting ever since. The boys always looked forward to the endless weekend adventures that the park offered. 

Francis was the older and more adventurous of the two, blonde-haired, teenage boys. At fifteen years old, there was no mountain too tall to climb nor trail too long to complete. With an eye for adventure and a spirit to match, he rarely left a rock unturned, or an interest unexplored. He loved the outdoors and felt very comfortable in them.

Forrest, two years younger, had always admired his older brother. Ever since he was able to walk, he followed his big brother everywhere, mimicking his every move. When they were younger it bothered Francis to have his little brother tagging around with him everywhere he went but over time they became the best of friends. Forrest didn't quite have the adventurous spirit of his older brother but together they usually managed to keep busy trying to work their way back out of the mischief they seemed to always get themselves into. And when the right adventure presented itself, their friendly sibling competition got them into some very interesting trouble! 

"Hey, not so fast!" shouted Forrest, disrupting the solitude of the peaceful silence. He was trying to keep up with his older brother on the dark narrow trail, which snaked through the eerie looking shadows of the redwood forest. 

He didn't want his big brother to get too far ahead of him, and he struggled to keep sight of Francis along the trail. They had explored all of the parks different trails many times before but for some mysterious reason this particular trail always made him feel very nervous. The mysterious nature of the trail only added to the sense of adventure and besides older brother wasn't at all afraid. 

"You are going to miss some pretty neat stuff," he shouted, trying to sound brave. He didn't want his older brother to tease him about being nervous in the dark, old growth forest. 

"Remember, we told mom that we would be back at camp in a couple of hours!" Francis yelled back, in a determined voice, without looking back over his shoulder. "If we expect to make it to the end of this trail today, we had better be quick about it! Remember, it gets dark early in these Redwood forests you know!" 

"No kidding!" answered Forrest, trying to keep up with his brothers brisk walking pace. "Well, alright! Just don't leave me behind...will you?" 

"I won't", said Francis, "as long as you stay up with me!" Forrest struggled to follow his older brother, but he couldn't hide his annoyance as he demolished a huge red and white mushroom, growing out of the forest duff along the edge of the trail, with one swift kick. 

The delicate, helpless mushroom exploded into many little pieces. 

"Take that, you Amanita...something!" thought Forrest. During an earlier Park Ranger led nature walk he remembered learning that these beautiful mushrooms were very poisonous. 

"Amanita...Amanita muscaria!" said Forrest out loud to his brother. He was proud of himself; he remembered. The thought gave him a boost of energy. He quickly closed the gap along the trail between he and his brother. 

Forrest turned his attention back to the worn, earthy trail that meandered through the dark, moist forest. The redwood duff and lush vegetation that partially covered the trail added to its ancient beauty. They passed through sections that were littered with fallen leaves, cones and acorns from the Coast Redwood, Douglas Fir, Tanoak, Big Leaf Maple and Bay trees. This litter was testimony that the cooler evenings and shorter days of sunlight had triggered the beginning of seasonal change. 

Deep in the forest, the leaves and cones made the trail slippery in the moist, shaded areas. The forest aroma was incredibly fresh, and every time the boys crushed bay leaves under their boots, they were rewarded with an additional pungent, refreshing fragrance. 

The boys had not chosen the easiest trail in the park to tackle. The trail followed the contours of the steep narrow canyon, weaving in and out of the towering groves of old growth redwoods, and nearly paralleled Grizzly Creek in the gravel wash below. The narrow creek's cascading sounds, echoed in the small canyon as it flowed over various sized rocks, past logjams, and beneath the natural bridges created from huge downed trees. The shape of the narrow canyon magnified the cascading sounds of cool, clear, free flowing water. The uneven canyon floor supported a small variety of isolated groves of riparian trees and shrubs that had not been scoured away by the winter's high water. Last winters heavy rains had left ugly scars amongst sections of the canyon walls, where they had triggered powerful landslides. These scars were a testimony to the rivers devastating power. 

The green, yellow and brown colors of the small deciduous, water loving Alders, Willows and Big Leaf Maple trees partially obstructed the boys' view of the gravel river bar below. The narrow trail followed the rolling contours of the sloped canyon wall, varying anywhere from 20 to 50 feet above the gravel creek bed below. This topography made it difficult for the boys to climb down to the river along most sections of the trail because of downed trees and other debris that had been uprooted by the winter storms incredible power. 

The boys thought it incredible that nothing seemed to stop the power of the water, even during the creeks low flows of September. The small, cascading creek still easily passed through nature's logjams and debris piles. They knew it would be much more challenging, but not impossible, for adventurous people like themselves. However, they welcomed the added challenge of scaling the creeks near impossible roadblocks; it satisfied their adventurous spirits.

Ever since their little adventure had started at the trail-head, among the dark and mysterious groves of redwoods, Francis had set a very quick walking pace. He wanted to quickly make his way through these beautiful, yet eerie looking groves of old growth forests. Although he would never admit it, he felt the same way about this stretch of trail, as did his younger brother; for some reason, this particular forested mountainside and canyon always made him feel very nervous. 

Francis welcomed the first opportunity to take a very needed rest break on the edge of the forest clearing. When the trail reached the edge of the clearing overlooking the canyon below, he stopped and quickly wiped the beads of sweat from his warm forehead. He breathed in deeply, slowly taking the warmer air from the sunny clearing into his lungs as he enjoyed the great view, of the canyon below. He focused his curious gaze down into the creek bottom, through a clearing in the trees and let his imaginative mind wonder. 

In his mind, Francis began to make future plans for his next big adventure. He wondered what it would be like to hike the entire length of the canyon below. He and Forrest could start just down from the trailhead where Grizzly Creek meets up with the Van Duzen River. Then they would navigate their way through the debris-choked gravel bar, patiently working their way up into the creek's source, somewhere high up in the mountains above them. He imagined all of the neat things they would discover on such an adventurous journey. 

As he entered into the clearing, Forrest collapsed into the warmth of the late afternoon sun. He took the opportunity to catch his breath, and glanced uncomfortably back towards the dark, mysterious forest they had just left. He was glad to finally be clear of that dark and dreary place, if only for the moment. 

They both noticed how much darker, cooler and moist it was among the groves of gigantic old growth Redwood and Douglas Fir that covered the nutrient rich alluvial flats and northern facing canyon walls. 

Although the scene was beautifully lush from their sunny vantage point, an occasional dead redwood snag towered among the living giants, giving the groves an ominous appearance. 

As Forrest looked back to the dark forest behind them, his eyes momentarily focused on the rays of sunlight that managed to filter through the upper canopy of the magnificent groves, illuminating sections of the lush ground cover below. Green feathery fronds of the Sword and Chain Ferns dominated nearly every square inch of the exposed soil. Wherever these ancient, delicate looking plants failed to germinate and grow, the carpet like ground cover of redwood sorrel successfully spread its bright green, clovery leaves. The lush ferns surrounded an occasional large, downed redwood log, that once stood as a mighty tree and decorated the pockets of soil still attached to their exposed shallow, upturned roots. 

The brothers silently took in the scenery. Neither of them expressing their relief to be out of that mysterious section of old growth. Clearly, the dark old forest made both of them feel very uncomfortable, but neither of them were about to say as much out loud. After all, being afraid of anything was something that these brothers would never admit, especially to each other. 

"Wouldn't it be great to finally get to explore that canyon?" said Francis interrupting the uneasy silence. He continued to focus his gaze on the canyon below, trying to appear confident and in control. 

" sure would!" said Forrest, constantly looking back over his shoulder as if to make sure they were the only ones enjoying the view. 

It was late September, only a few days before the beginning of the Fall Equinox. This was their first family camping trip since the new school year started in late August. Their mother, father and two younger sisters were all back at camp, a place that was beginning to sound better and better to Forrest. 

"Maybe we can finish this...uhh, trail tomorrow morning," continued Forrest. "We will still see lots of wildlife out then and we won't have to rush either. Then we can take all the time we want!" 

He hoped he would be able to convince his brother to end today's adventure. Almost since they had started their hike, he had the strangest feeling that someone or something, in the shadows of the forest, had eyes. 

"Nice try bro..." said Francis, finally breaking off his curious stare into the canyon below. When he finally looked at his brother, his throat tightened as he noticed the worried look in Forrest's eyes. A look that he hadn't seen in quite a while. He too had felt a little uneasy about the day's hike up Grizzly Trail, but tried to shrug it of as nothing more than his imaginative mind. 

"We're here now, and we might as well finish the hike we started," he said, focusing on his every word, trying to convince himself as well as his brother that finishing their little journey was the right thing to do. "We have plenty of time, and besides, we might see some more cool animals this afternoon. Don't worry, You will thank me later!" 

"Well, ...said Forrest reluctantly, "alright, let's get going!" 

Francis knew that by now, they only had no more than a half mile to go until they reached the end of the trail, where they would turn around and head back the way they came. Throughout the afternoon, just as Francis had promised, they had been rewarded with some special wildlife sightings. Now that their nerves were settled and their attention was back to the adventure, Francis pointed out a pair of large black ravens perched in the tops of a towering snag. They listened intently to the shiny bird's distinctive, drawn-out croaking calls echo through the canyon. 

"Caaawww, caaawww, caaawww...!" 

As the birds suddenly took flight up the canyon, the boys stopped and stood still, enjoying the sound of the wind whistling through the large birds powerful wings, each and every wing beat distinct. The brothers slowly began walking again as the sounds of the raven's calls and the noise of their flight faded into the other natural sounds of the narrow canyon. 

They noticed that ravens always seemed to travel in pairs, just like themselves, and usually seemed to be spying on them from the tops of the trees. The birds appeared to take great pride in making, loud and rattling caws when the boys would emerge from the shadows of the forest, the birds screaming, as if they were sounding an alarm for all in the area to hear. They imagined the ravens screaming, "Humans are coming...! Humans are coming...!" 

When it appeared that the ravens grew tired of sounding the alarm, they would fly on ahead of the boys, only to start the annoying game all over when the brothers came into view. When the ravens finally lost interest and grew tired, they flew away. 

With such efficient spies to announce their movements, the boys always worried about just how much wildlife they could actually see before it saw them. But apparently, most of the forest creatures also viewed the ravens as nothing more than loud and annoying nuisances. The brothers were usually rewarded with a great variety of wildlife sightings. Today was no exception. Occasionally, the loud, dry rattling calls and quick flashes of blue and white coloration of the Belted kingfishers caught their attention, as the pigeon-sized bird with the funny "hairdo" flew from one section of the creek bottom to the next looking for its next meal. 

The quick movement and musical peeps of little brown birds continually attracted the boy's attention, as they quickly flew back and forth through the surrounding vegetation. The very cautious little birds were sneaky enough to never really let the boys get a clear view of them but kept the boys under surveillance from the safety of their nearby hiding places. 

They encountered a number of banana slugs slowly sliming their way across the narrow trail; these bright yellow and brown-spotted slugs, nearly as long as the boys hands, were always among the boys favorite forest creatures. Out in the open, against the earth tone colors of brown, gray and green of the surrounding trail, the brightly-colored gigantic slugs were easily noticed. But, amongst the slender, aromatic yellow and brown bay leaves that littered sections of the trail, the boys had a difficult time spotting them; only the slugs, very slow movement across the trail gave them away. The brothers found it fascinating that the bright colors of the banana slugs were actually an excellent form of camouflage. 

The highlight of their hike was Forrest's sighting of a rarely seen Northern Pygmy-Owl, roosting in the branches of a small tree just up slope from the trail. The five-inch tall little owl stared back at the boys with its small expressive yellow eyes. After a few minutes, the cute little owl had enough of being the center of attention and quickly flew back into the brush and then out of sight. 

Not far from the end of the trail, the boys took another quick break in a small clearing above the creek, illuminated by the suns warming rays. In the wash below them, a spectacular scene presented itself; the golden rays of sunlight filtered through a break in the upper canopy of the forest, illuminating the canyon walls opposite of them in a divine light.

Everything now seemed extremely quiet; completely silent except for the sounds of the babbling creek below, the occasional chattering squirrel and the crunching of leaves and gravel under their feet. The cool cascading water created miniature rapids and echoed throughout this section of the canyon. The boys looked at each other and smiled; the whole scene seemed a gift from nature. 

Francis interrupted the stillness of the magical moment. 

"We're almost there!" he said with excitement. "The trail ends just around the bend." 

"Yeah, lets go! It's starting to get late," said Forrest, now much happier with how this little adventure was turning out. 

They took off down the trail once again, both with a renewed bounce in their step. It wasn't long before Forrest made another great discovery among the long shadows of some larger trees. 

"Hey, check this out," said Forrest, as he got down on his hands and knees to carefully examine the insect. 

A five and a half inches long black millipede, with yellow dots along the entire length of its back, was crawling its way across the trail. They both watched rows of the creatures little legs move in waves as the insect gracefully worked its way across the trail. Neither of them had ever seen a millipede this big before. 

"Hey, way cool! Things sure are big around here!" laughed Francis. 

Little did he know how right he was? 

Francis was the first to stand up to get ready to go, when his eye caught some movement on the gravel creek bed about 60 feet below them. He froze in his tracks. He quietly moved from side to side, trying to get a better look through the gaps in the trees and shrubs. Whatever he had seen quickly moved farther up the wash and disappeared amongst the vegetation and debris. 

Francis felt his heart pounding hard in his chest. 

"What was that?" he whispered out loud. 

"What was what?" answered Forrest, as he reluctantly looked up from the escaping millipede. "What did you see?" 

"Shhhh!" from Francis, as he firmly grabbed Forrest around his bleep and put his finger up to his own lips. 

He pulled Forrest onto his feet and whispered into his ear. 

"I saw something moving down there in the wash. It looked pretty big!," he excitedly whispered. 

Forrest couldn't help but notice the excitement beaming from his brother's wild-eyed face. 

"Where?" he asked, as he started to look around. 

"Shhhh! Down there! Down there!" Francis whispered frantically as he pointed down into the wash. "Let's go, it's getting away. I think it went that way; follow me!" 

Forrest curiously looked down into the wash. 

"I don't see any..." he started, his growing reluctance obvious. 

"Lets go! No time to explain!" whispered Francis, cutting him off before he could ask any questions or offer any argument. 

Francis cautiously led the way tip the trail in a low crouch walk. He carefully looked down into the wash, trying to use the surrounding vegetation and terrain for concealment. Forrest followed closely behind his brother, trying to mimic his every cautious move. Forrest carefully scanned the creek drainage below, trying to figure out what had so excited his normally calm brother. 

He did not have to wait long for an answer. After a very short moment, Francis stopped dead in his tracks. He squatted down into a low crouch, and taking advantage of the concealment provided by the nearby trees and shrubs, slowly pointed his finger down into the wash to where he had again seen movement. 

Forrest knew that any second now; he was about to have his questions answered. He imitated Francis's movements and cautiously looked down his brothers extended arm. 

He couldn't believe it, there was indeed something down at the bottom of the creek bed! Vegetation was blocking their view, but he was sure he saw movement at the bottom of the wash. 

They cautiously moved closer, trying to take advantage of the small gaps in the vegetation. Suddenly, both boys froze in their tracks. 

They quietly watched the massive back of a hairy, reddish brown colored creature slowly rock back and forth on the gravel bar. The vegetation still blocked most of their view, allowing them to see only brief glimpses of their quarry. 

Francis looked back to Forrest and whispered into his ear. 

"What luck," he whispered, and nodded his head toward the creek bed. "I think it's a bear! Let's get a closer look. 

Forrest was dismayed by the mischievous smirk on his brother's face; the last thing he wanted was a closer look at a bear. 

"No way...!" he quietly mouthed as he shook his head back and forth. 

"Come on," whispered Francis, "we are just going to get a little bit closer. Let's make sure it's a bear. It's hard to tell from this far away." 

Forrest still shook his head, no! 

"Are you chicken?" teased Francis, as he pointed and moved his elbows up and down like a bird. He was surprised that this time, Isis teasing appeared to have no effect on his younger brother. 

"Well then go ahead and stay here if you want," he whispered, then pointed into the canyon below. "I'm going down there to find out what that bear is doing... any how, I don't know what you are worried about; we're safe up here, it's down there in the canyon." 

Francis slowly worked his way down the slight embankment and through the vegetation towards the bear, trying not to make any noise. 

Forrest uncomfortably looked at the forest around him. He didn't like the idea of being left alone, especially with a bear in the area, so he followed his fearless brother down the slope. He moved quickly through the ground cover to catch up with him, making quite a bit of noise. 

"Shhhh...Slow down!" quietly mouthed Francis, as he turned around and motioned for his younger brother to slow down and be quiet. 

"Don't leave me behind!" excitedly whispered Forrest. "I'm going with you!" 

"OK, OK then; let's do it quietly!" whispered Francis. 

They quietly worked their way down the moderate slope towards the edge of the bluff Francis set his sights on a spot that would take them to the edge of the bluff and only about 20 feet above the bear. 

During their slow decent from the trail and through the tangles of vegetation, they lost sight of the animal. When they finally reached their destination, they could barely hear the sound of the small cascading creek over the sounds of their own heavy breathing and pounding hearts. 

Their adventure had become more exciting than they could have possibly imagined. They were sure their pounding hearts, heavy breathing and clumsy foot placements had scared the animal before they arrived. But to their amazement, it had not moved; when they finally looked over the edge of the bluff, they were surprised to see the animal still there, oblivious to being watched. The animal was squatting, with its back to them, near the edge of the babbling creek. 

The gurgling echo of the creek had covered their noisy approach. 

The animals massive back and shoulders, and its cone shaped head stood out against the background of the creek bottom, making the creature look incredibly large and powerful. 

From their place of concealment, the boys watched the animal reach forward with both of its front paws, and pull the heavily laden, berry covered branches towards its hidden face. 

During those short few minutes, the boys laid on their bellies, surrounded by lush ground cover and trees, curiously watching the animal from the edge of the bluff They looked at each other and smiled; they were both very proud of themselves and each other for their ability to be stealth, like true outdoorsmen. 

Their luck changed once again. By now, it was late afternoon, and the moist air had begun to cool. A dense finger of fog began to descend down stream into the narrow canyon, from the heavily forested mountain slopes above. In a matter of minutes, the cool fog had reduced their visibility to only 50 feet. They could no longer see the exposed, upper mountain slopes. It was getting late, the afternoon sun had already set beyond the edge of the surrounding mountains and towering trees. It was time to go. 

They were both very satisfied with their day's adventure, and were well aware of the urgent need to head back to their camp. But suddenly, it occurred to Francis that something was very wrong. 

The strange thought caused his heart to skip a few beats, a chill ran down his spine. In a matter of seconds, he felt goose bumps covering his whole body. 

"The bear was grabbing the branches with his hands, not it's paws!" he frantically whispered to Forrest. "It has fingers...It used it's fingers! Let's get out of here, I don't think it's a bear." 

Francis then did something completely out of character; he panicked. 

He jumped to his feet, grabbed his brother's arm and began to pull him up off the ground. As they struggled to their feet, they kicked loose some small gravel. The small pieces of gravel rolled off the edge of the bluff, knocking loose more gravel and rocks, along the way. The loose debris finally came to rest on the gravely creek bed just behind the mysterious creature. 

The sound of colliding river rocks echoed in the surrounding fog of the narrow canyon. 

Francis realized what he had just done, and reacted quickly. 

"Get down!" he whispered loudly as he quickly shoved his brother back down into the nearby ground cover.

Forrest hit the ground with a muffled thud, nearly knocking the air out of him. 

His brother had pushed Forrest hard enough to cause him to slide down the slope to within a foot of the edge of the bluff. He was still very confused. 

“Why was his brother acting so strange?” he thought as he tried to make sense out of the last moments of confusing events.

As he struggled away from the edge of the bluff, he sent more debris cascading down towards the large creature. As Forrest crawled his way back up to his brother, they both scrambled to conceal themselves in the ferns, hugging the ground as best they could. Forrest felt his heart pounding
against the ground. Fear had overtaken all of his senses, and he still had no idea what exactly it was that had caused his brother to panic the way he did.

During the entire mishap, neither brother let his eyes slip from the mysterious creature. Clearly, their curiosity had gotten the best of them.

The worst they could imagine was about to come true.


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