Darrington, Washington, in the Cascade Range, 1989
On July 15th of 1989 I had intended to meet my parents near the town of Darrington, Washington for a simple day hike and some later blueberry picking. We were to meet at the corner monument of section 27, T32N, R9E, which lies on the roadway to the Squire Creek Trailhead; a remote location that isn’t the normal haunt of the weekend backpacker. I was there because of my necessity for completion of mining assessment work to two claims, which I held there for several years.
On this particular day I arrived about 10:00 with my son Rolf and his friend David. It was a typical early summer day in the mountains, light fog in the canyons and heavy shadows in the treeline; warm and enjoyable perfect weather for a brisk hike. This would occur later when my father, mother and niece arrived at about 11:30. We took a light lunch break and three of us continued up the hill while the two boys and my mother remained at the cars.
In about ten minutes we had made the first hillside above the road. It brought us about 80 feet up to a large plateau that was somewhat open but not heavily traveled as I had only found this location a short time before. Long enough to have ribboned the trail and investigated the tunnels for dangers. I had also explored the remains of an old mining cabin, collected samples and posted the site in error. My job was to remove the inaccuracies and bring the claim into compliance. This required me to part company at this plateau and venture off the trail about 200 feet. I had told my father and niece to wait at the site and I would return shortly. Ten minutes later I returned and they were gone. I called out and received no reply to my hails. Angered that they had gone ahead I returned to the bush and took a few samples. About 15 minutes later I returned to the trail and questioned where they had gone. Both were emphatic that they had not ventured from the spot but my father seemed preoccupied by voices that he claimed he had heard.
“A garbled, mumbling speech that resemble the sound of dwarfs arguing over a card hand.” I passed it off to the carry of the boy’s voices from below the bank but he insisted otherwise. With that we continued on our way and investigated the tunnels without incident. After about an hour hike to the upper tunnels my father and niece decided to return to the vehicles. Dad would have liked to continue the hike but was worried about the safety of my niece, Tina, so he accompanied her back to the cars. I said my good-bye’s and continued on my way. Onto a trail that I had been on only the week before…..
As I looked around it was difficult to determine exactly what I was seeing. The trail looked like it had been obliterated in some cataclysmic fashion. Huge rocks were out of place, trees broken over and hillside ripped loose. I couldn’t even discern the ribbons I had placed to mark my previous trip. It was as though the hand of God had slapped the hillside and jarred it beyond recognition. I couldn’t even tell if I would be able to regain the trail without rope and pitons to secure my travel. It was devastation, so much so that I abandoned the monument I was carrying so I could use both hands to pull myself up to the trail. I was standing in an area more familiar but equally as unusual. Here I could see the ribbons I had placed but they were laying on trees that were now on the ground. Large conifers were snapped off 3 and 4 feet above the ground like a child breaks stalks of grass. The broken ends and ground covered with an unusual green slime. It was like nothing I had seen before in all my many travels into the wild. It looked like it had been ejected from a toothpaste tube but the interior of the jelly contained strands of very minute vegetable matter. This was impressed in the interior like it came out of 5 separate orifices and it held its position in the mass of gelatin. Overall consistency was like thick tapioca pudding and it gave the simulation of phosphorescence in the dim light of the trail. As you might imagine from my discussion I spent some time trying to decipher the meaning of all of what I was seeing as the site reminded me of the Tunguska blast in Russia or the aftermath of St. Helens. Many of the trees were laying up the hill! A short while later I arrived at the site where I had intended to place the monument. I returned for this and made placement fast as I still had to take samples and return to the vehicles before it got too dark to pick berries. When I completed this task I turn to take a few samples and heard an unusual echo from the surrounding hill. An extended echo that wasn’t mine coming from the hill above me. Now let me tell you. In the time that I have been mining I have had several guns pointed in my face. I had no desire to be shot by some wayward hayseed in the hills so I dropped my supplies and traveled out into a rock slide that went all the way up the hill. A vantage point from which I would surely see the maker of the sound. Well, such was not the case so I cupped my hands to my face and called to the maker of the sound. Moments later the hillside exploded in a blaze of fury.
Falling through the trees I could make out a large black shape and my first impression was that my call had dislodged a large nest or tree limb from above. But as it continued to crash, in a Rambo fashion, I knew I was seeing a living creature; big and black. It had to be a bear, a cub perhaps and I began to look for the mother. As it rolled though I could see arms gripping for a handhold and a creature far bigger than a cub. This had to be a grizzly judging from its size and it was rolling right toward me. Not a good place to be with an injured bear! I saw every form of mauling death in those first few moments and prepared for a quick and painful death at the claws of this thing and then it was over. The behemoth laid on the trail dead…or unconsciously, couldn’t tell. Better yet I couldn’t make out head or tail on what I was seeing. It just looked like a mass of hair. I surveyed my situation in the few moments and decided to walk toward the thing and see if I could get around it and escape. Just then it began to stir and I prepared to die…
I saw first one hand and then another extending from the sides of this thing. Expecting a four-footed stance you can imagine my surprise when it stood straight up like a man and its buttocks was about eye level. I pulled my 22-caliber pistol and tried to fire a round up into the air but I was so rattled that I had forgot the safety and it wouldn’t fire. By now I was so engrossed in the magnificent size of this beast I just stood there and took in all I could. Determined that, if I survived, I had to remember all I was seeing. Its back was absolutely enormous; I marveled at its muscle bundles and definition. The hair was jet-black and about three inches long over most of its body. The hair on its head grew in a large cape about 24 inches long and in long tassels from the edges of its arms and legs. Swishing like a Spaniel dog as it walked. Its face was a ruddy brown with deep set wrinkles under the eyes sockets and eyes as dark as coal. Its nose was short and black with a beard/mustache that grew from the bridge of its nose. Lower the beard resembled some aspects of the Buffalo. I thought it quite odd because I could see various forms of mythological beasts in my own visual description to myself. Later I fired a shot over its right shoulder. It turned and looked at me and then just walked away down the trail like I didn’t matter; a living Goliath. As I stood there I was unsure of what to do. The gun was obviously little protection but I did have explosives down the trail in my rock bag. My thought was get to them and I could easily scare this thing away and make my break for it. As I walked down the trail though I spotted something crouched near my supplies. It was the creature and it was doing something, digging? Well, thinking that this was possibly a method of hiding killed prey I decided to get a closer look and make sure it wasn’t one of my party. But as I got closer it picked up a rock the size of a basketball and beat it on the ground three times. I decided this was bad and began to back up. Now it seemed like I became the hunted and it turned and ran my direction. I turned and ran for all is was worth toward the rock slide and down the hill. The creature crested the hill above me and began a longitudinal traverse of the hillside ripping out everything that stood in its way…
It looked like the scenes of a Tasmanian devil cartoon. This thing destroyed whole trees as it mowed through them, pushing them aside like I would small twigs. Rocks, branches and all forms of debris came my direction as if they were being hit with some beam of anti-gravitational force. It was so surreal that it was shocking and I stopped several times when I could run no further. Surprisingly, when I stopped, it stopped and when I ran, it ran. During the pauses it would make that banging sound again just long enough to enlist a response. I ran to within 300 feet of the road before I decided to give up and then it turned and went back into the forest. As I broke out to the road they tell me I emptied the clip of my gun. Of that I have no memory.
When I returned home I was too distraught to talk to my wife or acknowledge my friend Kevin who was visiting. I just went into the shower and scrubbed until I began to bleed. I then collapsed in the tub and began to sob. Shaking with the adrenaline still coursing through my veins. That night I recounted the story of what I had seen. A curse that led to repeated bizarre nightmares and sleep deprivation. Unusual, terrifying aspects for which I have no explanation. On that note I will leave you to digest my story.
I considered myself to be a very rational man. I have seen bears in the wild and hunted the same. What I saw wasn’t a bear. It seemed to be a living creature that was capable of being hurt.