I WON'T BACK DOWN

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

SASQUATCH LIVES - MPO


I know this for a fact – and, so did Bob.

We know this, because in 2004, we actually HEARD what we believe was Sasquatch screams in the wilderness area of Wenatchee National Forest area.

Our granddaughter was living with us at the time, and we were Home Educating her: I had always been a Home Education Advocate, and as early as 1975, wanted to educate our daughter at home instead of sending her to Public School … but Bob’s Grandmother, Myrtle Smalley had been a pioneer School Teacher in Eden Valley, and went on to become the first woman Superintendent of the Wahkiakum School District later on, and Bob was insistent on public schooling; so Stacey went to Public School until it was even obvious to Bob that Home Education would be the wisest choice in the 1980’s; so I pulled Stacey from public school and taught her at home – like I wanted to do from the get-go. And I NEVER put another child in my care back into the public schools. Ever.

Anyway …

In 2004, we were Home Educating our granddaughter and we were studying the Universe, the planets, and doing a Fall themed Unit Study with bats: I thought this would be a good time to introduce our granddaughter to wilderness camping, too. I tied the concept up with, “And, Babe, we will have Precious (my ½ Timber/1/2 gray wolf) with us – she’ll make sure we’re kept safe.”

Bob wasn’t keen on the idea, but he went along with my idea.

So, I contacted the right connections to make this happen, scheduled a camp date & site – and the pickup was loaded with what we’d need for this adventure.

Off we went when that September date came along ;-)

I was excited to show Alyna the beauty of the wilderness experience: I was really looking forward to pitch black nights with bats in flight against the backdrop of a brilliantly highlighted Milky way. Living where we were, stars were brightly showing … but the Milky Way was lost in the glare of street lights, porch lights, and the distant city light: it just CULD NOT BE SEEN.

And I wanted her to see it; in ALL it’s splendor.

And I also wanted to give my beautiful wolf a wilderness experience too, as a special treat for her. We were living on the outskirts of the city, in a country environment … but it wasn’t ‘wilderness’: and I thought an honest-to-God-wilderness experience would be something she’d enjoy.

I knew I would ;-)

Bob was humoring me.

He loved me :-D

I think Bob actually thought I had bitten off more than I could chew … but, I had been raised in the wilderness area of Minnesota (no running water-no electricity-no inside toilet-we hauled our water from the lake MILES AWAY, in 6 large metal milk cans, we used kerosene lamps when the sun went down, and we used an outhouse that was a significant hike from the house) with a beatnik-hippie mother, and a father who had been raised with pioneer parents (Jay was the 14th of 16 children); so wilderness was not something that frightened me – I actually ENJOYED the wild seclusion of wilderness: bright lights, hustle & bustle of town/city life, and community living was not something I enjoyed – I tolerated it for Bob’s sake, because HE wanted it. I was really looking forward to leaving ALL THAT behind and immersing myself in our little adventure. And I hoped my family would come to enjoy it too.

Well …

Our adventure started out crossing Cayuse Pass, where we saw a peak that resembled a howling wolf – so Alyna dubbed it ‘Dog Peak’ ;-)

Cayuse Pass - Washington State
Home Education Subject: Wilderness Camping trip. 15 years ago. Wenatchee National Park.

A little further along, we came to Tipso Lake, which we visited every year, when weather would allow (some years we couldn’t even reach it due to late season or early season snowfall). Here we would catch a glimpse of Mount Rainer peeking at us from across the way, and walk out to the Lake for a stretch of the legs before continuing on.


Bob - in the red hat, sitting by the lake.
Mount Rainier peeking at us from a distance - lakeside view, above Bob's head. 
I love it here.

On this particular trip, Alyna picked up some rock here to add to her Wilderness Experience Journal …

Mount Rainier peeking over Peaks. Cayuse Pass.
Another hill Alyna renamed, & Lake Tipso. Wenatchee National Forest.
Stilpnomelane in Quartz. Wenatchee National Park. Lake Tipso.

It had been a long drive from home to the Lake already, and we wanted to reach our campsite and get set up before dusk; so we didn’t stay as long at Lake Tipso as we normally would, but left early and pushed on, to Pleasant Valley Campground.

The campground was pretty primitive. The campground atmosphere gave a whole new meaning to ‘wilderness experience’ – the whole place looked deserted and more than a bit eerie: everywhere we looked was decay and death. Bob & I looked at each other – we were picking up uncomfortable vibes:

GIANT anthills EVERYWHERE. Pleasant Valley Campground
Wenatchee National Park.
Pleasant Valley Campground. Wenatchee National Park.

But, we {were game} to make the best of a dicey situation, thinking to ourselves that maybe we’d adjust – and the sense of total desolation of the campsite’s environment would lessen. Eventually.

The night started out okay, despite the eerie vibes we were picking up from all the decay and death surrounding us: we set the tent up, explored the furthest end of our camping area … and I suggested we could hike that stretch of wilderness across the river tomorrow, had Supper; and around dusk, we toasted marshmellows and enjoyed the solitude – we were the only campers in the campground that night. Right behind our campsite, the American River flowed, swishing and gurgling over river rock – and bats were starting to flit about, above our heads:

Pleasant Valley Campground. Wenatchee National Park.

When it was sufficiently pitch black enough to enjoy the brilliant cosmos show, we took up the flashlight and walked to a spot where there would be no tree canopy to hide the spectacular overhead display of the brilliantly highlighted Milky Way – IT WAS WORTH THE LONG DRIVE!

We were in awe.

We were enjoying our wilderness experience.

Everyone was content. Even Precious ;-)

We walked back to the tent and settled into our sleeping bags on the air mattresses – Alyna in her own sleeping quarters. Precious stretched out alongside Bob & I, as usual – like she would sleep at home. We all dropped off to sleep immediately: it had been a very long drive – and we had spent quite a long time gazing at the Milky Way; we were all tuckered out.

Around 3 a.m., WE HEARD IT!



I heard it first. The scream startled me awake – my eyes popped open, my heart was hammering, and my first thought was, “WHAT the heck is THAT?”

I am a country girl. I had been raised in the backcountry wilderness of Minnesota for 3 years – DEEP backcountry: I was very familiar with wild animal sounds. THIS SOUND I HAD NEVER HEARD BEFORE. Ever. It started out like a haunting banshee scream … went into a torturous cry … and ended in a haunting howl. ALL this was ONE CONTINUOUS SOUND that flowed and ebbed without a single break in the crescendo.


I lay there, on my side of the mattress, listening – straining to pick out a specific identifying sound, and trying not to be afraid at the intensity or the passion of the mournful scream that had started me awake.

My next thought was, “I don’t know of ANY animal that sounds like THAT!”

My next concern was Alyna, in her sleeping quarter of the spacious tent, and that if we had to make a run for the safety of the truck – a mere 5 steps away from the tent’s zippered entranceway … the truck seemed too far away. I was afraid for my granddaughter’s safety if safety became an issue.

As I was thinking that thought, Precious bolted straight up from where she’d been peacefully sprawled and her entire body was on alert: her ears were standing up and cocked in the direction of the eerie and mournful screaming howl; the ruff around her neck was bushed out and the ridge of back fur along her spine was straight and standing at attention too; her eyes were shining in the darkness and she was staring like she could see through the tent walls. I was thinking, by now, “When Bob wakes up, WE ARE OUTTA HERE – I will say I changed my mind about staying here, and we’ll go to Millersylvania campground, and finish our camping there.”

I could sense that Bob was now awake too – he has been alerted awake by my wolf’s sudden bolting and rigid stance alongside our mattress.

Bob was a country boy - born and raised in the country.

I whispered, “Are you awake, Babe?”

Bob whispered back, “Yes.”

I said in a low and semi-whisper, “Did you hear that? What do you think it could be? I have never heard anything like that – have you?”

He said, “Yes, I did hear it – and no, I have never heard anything like it either.”

We lay there together, being as secure as possible … in the closeness of each other … straining to pick out any identifying sound we could to explain the vociferous sound coming from across the river. IN THE AREA I WANTED TO HIKE!

Precious was, by now, glancing between our mattress & over to where Alyna’s sleeping area was. She, like me, was concerned about Alyna’s safety if we had to make a run for it.

Precious looked at me, waiting for permission to leave our side.

I told her it was okay for her to leave us to go stand guard by Alyna.

Alyna’s safety was paramount.

Listening to that eerie mournful sound rise and ebb with passionate intensity made me mentally kick myself for insisting on this {experience} that was a bit more than I had planned – or looked forward to. I could have placed my family in serious and immediate danger.

We could hear an elk herd walk briskly past our site. And I was again trying to mentally gauge the distance between the tent and the pickup: and kept coming up with the same conclusion – TOO FAR, even at a fast dash, if that thing – whatever it was – decided to cross the river. The flimsy material of the tent was no protection at all, really. And Precious’ presence would not be enough distraction to allow us time to make the truck either.

So, I said, “If that thing stays over there, as soon as it’s light enough to see what we’re doing, let’s leave.”

And that is what we did – as soon as twilight arrived, we started deflating our mattress … which woke Alyna up; she sat up and said, “Why are you deflating the mattress?”

I said, “We are going to go to Millersylvania and finish camping there.”

She asked why; and noticed Precious being antsy. So, I told her we heard something that alarmed us and we thought it better to go elsewhere.

She jumped up and started tearing her mattress down too. I never saw a kid move so fast in my whole life. LOL. And she didn’t bat an eye when she said, “Sasquatch! That’s why! We are leaving because Sasquatch lives in the creepy place!”

I wanted to burst out laughing at her suddenly serious tone, BUT I couldn’t laugh. I believed that what we had heard WAS Sasquatch – and it was no laughing matter: it was downright scary.

As we tore the tent down and was storing stuff in the truck, Alyna said she needed to pee. I looked at her and said, “Okay – the restroom is not that far away: take Precious with you and get right back here. No dawdling.”

She walked the short distance away and was never out of eyesight. Precious was walking alongside her, like they were Siamese twins joined at the hip. Alyna even took Precious into the restroom with her – GOOD GIRL! Both of them :-D

We drove to the restroom building and waited there until Alyna got into the truck. And then, we drove to Millersylvania – where there were lighted camp sites and a more welcoming environment where my granddaughter would be safe.

Precious still stuck to Alyna’s side like a Siamese twin – no matter what was happening; Alyna always had a close companion in Precious, who took Alyna’s safety very seriously – so much so, that when Alyna went fishing, Precious for the first time in her 2 year life, learned to swim after a slight hesitation (she didn’t like water, but she didn’t like Alyna being alone either, so she bit the bullet and dived into the water, the swimming instinct taking over the deeper the water got under her):

Millersylvania State Park Campground. We camped here every year since Alyna was 4 years old, until she was 12 years old. I liked wearing Bob’s polo shirts camping because they weren’t as confining as women’s clothing which seriously hampered my movements in the woodsy regions.

And Bob joined them swimming, later in the evening. What started out as a scary camping adventure where I seriously feared for my family’s safety, became a good & fun camping trip after all ;-)

Alyna, Precious, and Bob.

Stacey is embarrassed that I believe Sasquatch lives.

And she has forbidden me to speak of that camping trip in front of her children (even though Alyna is now, 24 years old) – and thinks I should be ashamed of myself for speaking about it to anyone else.

BUT, I KNOW WHAT I KNOW.

I was there – she wasn’t.

I am not apologetic and I am not ashamed.

What I am saying is the truth of what we experienced on that 2004 wilderness camping trip.

And the truth should never be silenced. MPO