Posted by: Craig Woolheater on December 13th, 2012
Cliff posted his behind the scenes views for the latest episode of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot entitled “The Sierra Spy” on his website.
The Sierras expedition was the first to be filmed for the season’s run that started in late February, 2012 and ended on June 30, 2012. I was looking forward to doing some bigfooting in the Sierras again, as it had been a couple years since I had the opportunity. When I lived in Long Beach, CA, I regularly visited the Sierras to do bigfooting, but hadn’t been there since I moved to Portland, OR in 2008.
The evidence that brought us to the Sierras was the bigfoot “face smudge” that hit the media in June of 2011. As the story goes, a paranormal group went on a bigfooting trip, and when they returned to their vehicle a couple days later they found smudges on their car that resembled marks that could have been left by a bigfoot’s face and hands. I had always thought the most likely culprit for leaving the smudges was a bear, but it was certainly worth looking into a bit more closely. Ranae and I were presented the opportunity to interview Allen Thomas in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Shaver Lake about the event.
Allen showed us photographs of the smudges and told us the back story of what happened that Memorial Day weekend in 2011. A detail emerged from that interview that I was not aware of before. Apparently on the trek out from their campsite, they found several sizable logs placed across the trail where there hadn’t been any on on the walk in. (Photographs of this were shown to me, but I do not currently have permission from the photographer to use them. I hope that he plans to publish them publicly for scrutiny.) I found this interesting as blocking roads and trails with objects is possible bigfoot behavior that has been brought to my attention before in other parts of the country.
Intriguing as this was, it still did not mean that the smudge prints came from a bigfoot. I was particularly interested in the purported bigfoot knuckle prints that were left on the vehicle because I am somewhat acquainted with bigfoot hand anatomy based on a number of handprint casts I have examined, so I tried to duplicate the prints on the glass of our vehicle. I could not even get close to producing those sort of marks while still having my palms touching the glass. My hand simply could not bend that way and leave the necessary marks. That does not mean that a bigfoot could not do so, but it does cast doubt on whether or not a bigfoot could bend its hands in such an awkward position. More concerning to me was how closely those marks resembled the front paw marks of a bear. Though I found the aforementioned log placed over the trail to be interesting in the overall context of the event, I am of the opinion that the marks were most likely left by a bear. While Ranae thinks it could be a mountain lion that left the mark, I disagree. The prints clearly look like the front paws of a bear, and this sort of behavior is very common for bears in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have never even heard of this behavior by a mountain lion, though Ranae claims that she has heard of this several times from colleagues, and has even witnessed it herself in Washington. I guess it’s possible, but it still seems very weird to me.
David Raygoza’s encounter story was a difficult one for us to recreate because of the weather. We were unable to go the exact location due to the nasty February weather, so we stayed in a location much lower in altitude. This location is in Sequoia National Forest in the foothills below the national park of the same name. David has worked this spot since the early 2000′s, and has had a number of possible encounters with multiple witnesses attesting to them. Since this area is close to Los Angeles, it is frequented by city-dwelling bigfooters to this day, and still occasionally yields interesting encounters.
The sighting David described in the episode was actually at a much larger distance than we were able to recreate. Due to this discrepancy, it is hard to gauge what David was actually able to discern. However, over the years I have come to know David as a man who does not lie about what he believes. I know that if David says he saw something, then he believes he saw something. I suppose he could be wrong, as anyone can be, but I do not think David is lying about the event. Below is a Youtube video that was filmed by David that seems to be a video of his sighting.
I particularly enjoyed the recreation Ranae and I did with Carrie, the woman who saw the bigfoot peeking through the window while she was babysitting a couple kids back in the winter of 1990 near Auberry, CA. She was hanging with the two children watching TV when she suddenly felt “creeped out,” and then heard a slight thump from the window. Looking up, she saw the shape of a large humanoid framed in the window. The figure had its two forearms pressed up against the glass, and she could make out the shape of the body and a bit of the chin as it pressed against the window. Hair draped away from the forearms, and was an estimated five inches in length. She quickly suggested to the children that they go play in the bathroom because it was the only room with no windows. When the property owner returned, she made him walk her to her car because she was so frightened.
Recreations of bigfoots looking into the window are a favorite of mine because the window size and shape do not change, thus yielding pretty accurate measurements of the visible parts of the body. In this case, some interesting numbers were obtained. First off, the shoulders of the creature were about eight feet off the ground. This one fact stumped Ranae, as it clearly couldn’t have been a friend pranking the young woman. Additionally, the torso at the lower chest level (or upper abdomen) was estimated to be about 26 inches wide. Finally, an estimate of the length of the forearm was obtained: 16 inches from the wrists to the elbow. I am not a large man, but my lower chest is only 15.5 inches wide, and my forearms are only 12 inches long.
By far, the most exciting thing about this trip for me was our visit to the Hairy Man Pictographs on the Tule Indian Reservation. I had been aware of this historical site since Kathy Strain brought it to the attention of the bigfooting world back in the early 2000′s. It is rare that visitors are allowed, and they are only allowed with an Indian escort. This would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I planned to cherishing every moment.
The pictographs are not visible from the road, so they would be very unlikely to be discovered without help. Most of the local residents know where they are, and visitors are often given inaccurate directions to keep the location secret. Over the years, young vandals from both on and off the reservation have defaced the pictographs, but they are still in pretty good shape. Some of the drawings have been slightly touched up with permission from the tribe, but most are still in the shape they have been for over one thousand years.
While many people rally around the need for physical proof of bigfoot, they seem to utterly overlook other types of “proof” that are no less important. The Hairy Man Pictographs offer something equally compelling as physical proof: cultural proof. Every bigfooter should become acquainted with this intriguing historical site and its back story. They offer the only known life-sized Native American representations of bigfoots from before white-contact. The oral history of this tribe accurately describes both the habitat and behavior of bigfoots, and do so in nothing less than the creation story of this tribe. The area is an active bigfoot area, and a bigfoot was reported going down the river screaming just a week or two before we got there. Since our visit, the local Indians have written to me to tell me that there have been more sightings on the reservation nearby.
It was great to be back in the Sierra Nevada Mountains again. There really is no place quite like them. Some of my best and earliest bigfoot experiences were not far from the location we explored during this episode. Having the tree pushed down on our last night investigation really was the cherry on the cake. For those in the southern half of California, there are no better bigfoot stomping grounds than almost anywhere in the Sierras. I would recommend people to explore the possibility of bigfoots hanging out on the less-explored east side of the mountain range. Almost no reports come out of there, so it seems like it would be an untapped area full of virgin bigfoots. If you run into anything out there, please let me know.
~ Cliff Barackman
See Cliff’s other photos and the rest of the report here.
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.