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 Post subject: GCBRO COLFAX COUNTY
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:38 am 
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Quote:
REPORT RECEIVED: From the G.C.B.R.O. Web Site Submission Form

DATE: These incidents occurred on several different
occasions in 1972-1973.

TIME: Not Stated

LOCATION: Pecos Wilderness Area in Northern New Mexico.
The two areas involved are Mora Flats and Lower
Mora Canyon. Both of these are reached by foot
trail from the Iron Gate Campground.

TERRAIN: Mora Flats is a huge miles-long meadow with
wildflowers, small timber stands, streams, beaver
ponds.


OBSERVED: These are not sightings, vocalizations, or tracks. Mostly just "puzzle pieces". These incidents occurred on several different occasions in 1972-1973 in the Pecos Wilderness Area in northern New Mexico. The two areas involved are Mora Flats and Lower Mora Canyon. Both of these are reached by foot trail from the Iron Gate Campground and are 3-5 miles back into the wilderness.

The Pecos is a 223,000+ acre wilderness area in the Sangre De Christo mountains between Santa Fe and Taos and is comprised of parts of the Santa Fe and Kit Carson National Forests which also surround it. It is accessible from several areas, but we always used the Pecos-Glorieta exit off I-25. A paved road runs north thru the village of Pecos and through a sparsely populated area of homes, dude ranches, abandoned mica and quartz mines, and resorts. After a time, the road turns to dirt and ends in a little town named Cowles, which is, if memory serves me right, about 30 miles from the Interstate. We always turned off just before Cowles and went to the Iron Gate Campground, past what is called the Grass Mountain Summer Home Area.
The road is terrible, seasonally impassable, and on one occasion we had to park down below and walk the road in order to get to Iron Gate. Iron Gate is not a campground per se (no facilities), it's really just a parking area.

From Iron Gate, trails lead to several areas (the two I mentioned and Pecos Falls - there may be others). The reason we chose this area is the relatively short distances to the camping areas. I'd have liked to spend more time and go further back in, but weekends are too short, even 3 day holiday weekends.

My first experience with Pecos was with one of my Air Force roomies in the fall of 1972; we often took off for parts unknown on the weekends with sleeping bags, maybe fishing gear, and little else - just anything to get away from the base for a while. And all 3 of us liked the outdoors. We'd eat in whatever greasy spoon we found and rough it on the ground or sleep in the car if the weather was bad.

One weekend, we headed north for some fishing, cruised the Carson National Forest looking for some likely trout fishing spots, ended up asking a ranger for some ideas on good fishing areas, and he directed us to Pecos.
We stopped at the Pecos ranger station, got the maps, signed in, and off we went.

Mora Flats is several miles northeast of Iron Gate and is reached by well-delineated foot trail. The trail descends almost immediately down the back side of Round Mountain ( I THINK). Mora Flats is a huge miles-long meadow with wildflowers, small timber stands, streams, beaver ponds and one must climb a mountain to get out, no matter which direction you go. On the first trip with just one of my roomies, Pat Rine, we were not very well-prepared......... we had taken minimal gear and were not really set up for a weekend of wilderness backpacking, so the whole weekend was a struggle with the elements (cold rain). We met a hippie couple down from Colorado who kindly fed us and helped us stay warm and dry under a spare tarp.

Event 1:

The two of us were back on another weekend shortly thereafter with backpacks, GI issue down bags, plastic tarps, sufficient food, and the rest of it. This was when the first "incident" happened. This would have been in May, 1972. We camped in the lower part of the meadows, just inside the trees. We walked around, looked at some beaver ponds, saw a timber rattler, and did some fishing - we had hoped to catch enough for a meal. The streams are stocked (by pack mule) with rainbow and German brown trout and have a few native cutthroat. In late afternoon, we split up, following the Rio Mora. Pat went downstream, I went upstream. I fished along the stream with some success. In some places, the brush was so thick that it was barely possible to stick the rod tip through to drop a line in the stream. I followed the Rio Mora to its headwaters - the Rito Mora and the Rito Valdez meet to form the Rio Mora, which joins the Pecos probably 5 or 6 miles below. The water source is snow melt and alpine lakes higher up - the higher mountains are snow capped year around.

I followed the course of the Valdez. It was even more brush covered right up to its edges. It's just a trickle - very shallow, mostly less than a foot deep, maybe 8 to 10 feet wide. Eventually, I was hopping from rock to rock in the stream bed itself. I caught a few little trout. Finally, I came to a small clearing where I could get back onto the bank. In that clearing was a small beaver pond formed by a partial diversion of the stream and it ran right up to the edge of a mountainside. It was about 4 feet deep and was very still and calm.

Next to this pond, I found a small deer skeleton, antler less, maybe a fawn (Pecos has both white tail and mule deer). This in itself is no huge find. It's not uncommon to find skeletal remains in the wilderness. What was uncommon was this: this skeleton was perfect and untouched. The flesh and fur had decomposed and fallen off - vestiges were visible on the ground below the carcass. There was no hint of what might have killed it and there was no sign of predation. Usually a skeleton in the wild will be pulled apart as scavengers tear off flesh. This was a museum piece. I marveled at
the completeness and even contemplated picking it up and carting it out - it would have made a nice display if one took the time to clean it up and glue the bones together - it was THAT complete. But I didn't have a way to carry it just then - just a fanny pack - and the difficulty in getting back out through the creek bed had pretty much convinced me that it was a bad idea.

As I stood there looking at it, something started to happen to me. A sense of foreboding and fear started to come over me. I had the sense that there were eyes on me. I looked around, saw nothing out of the ordinary, heard nothing, but the fear was still there. The pond looked black and threatening and the woods seemed dead and barren - no sound but the burbling of the creek. The longer I stood there, the more ominous things felt. I have never experienced anything like that. I beat it back into the creek bed and got out of there in a hurry. Once back in the open meadows, I felt a little
relief, but I still felt a need to get some distance between me and that place. About a mile away, I found Pat along the creek closer to our camp and related what happened. He was a more experienced woodsman than me and he had
not seen, heard, or felt anything out of the ordinary. The rest of the weekend went without incident (and we ate trout for supper and breakfast - yum!).

Questions:
(1) How/why could a deer carcass decompose to bare bones without being bothered at all? This area has all the small predators and scavengers, including numerous coyotes, which will eat anything. At the top of the food chain are black bear (no grizzlies left in NM) and cougar, and we actually had a black bear in our camp one night on another occasion. And we saw all the other small animals you might expect you see in the area.

(2) Why the foreboding? Is it related to the fear/flee phenomenon people have reported with bigfoot - possibly caused by pheromones, a theory I have seen advanced elsewhere?

(3) Are the two related? Did predators/scavengers feel the same sense of fear I did and avoid the area, thus leaving the deer to decay?

(4) Did I just get the jitters when I first saw Pecos? My mind said "This sure looks like Bigfoot country!" In all honesty, I was just off a fresh reading of one of John Green's books. Did it all happen in my head? I don't know - the fear seemed real to me at the time. I pretty much wrote it off as just that but it has always sort of bugged me. I have spent plenty of time out alone in the woods and never felt that sort of panic before or after.

1972 - we went another time or two before winter ........... uneventful.

Event 2:

Spring 1973 - first trip - around Memorial Day - Mora Flats:

I observed a man's jacket on top of a pine tree about 12 or more feet off the ground along the Rito Mora in Lower Mora Canyon. It was clearly a jacket - a grey work jacket like Mr. Goodwrench would wear, well-weathered as if it had been there a long time. Just draped over the top of a tree. I can't think of an easy way to get it there, and I can't think of a reason anyone would put it there. It's entirely possible a human could have done it, but why and at what effort? Maybe placed it there with a long stick?
Maybe walked right up to the tree in the dead of winter on snowshoes when the snow was high? This area gets snow built up that deep. Still the question "Why" comes up. In my mind's eye, I can visualize a big hairy guy reaching up and hanging it there LOL. Just a little mystery.............

Event 3: probably Spring 1973: this time, in Lower Mora Canyon.

From Iron Gate Campground, walk east up to the summit of Grass Mountain (maybe Round Mountain), follow the trail along steep switch backs down the side of the mountain. This descends into a steep canyon through which the Mora River (Rio Mora) runs. The area is 2 or 3 miles directly downstream from Mora Flats. One could get there through the canyon, but it's very steep-sided in places and much more overgrown - it would be a tough slog from Mora Flats to Lower Mora Canyon. On our first trip to the Canyon, we found a nice campsite - used but not abused. Existing fire ring, big log to sit on, under the trees, below some steep cliffs, crystal clear water, lots of dead falls for firewood, small pretty meadow just below and a bigger meadow across the creek. On a slope across the river, a mile or so away, up in an area where there had been a forest fire years before (the area was called The Big Burn) you could sometimes see elk grazing. Just beautiful! This trip was with 4 or 5 of us - my other roomie and 1 or 2 other of our buddies. On some trips we had up to 8 or 10 guys...... the word spread about Pecos and we sort of ended up as masters of ceremonies. We all had lotsa fun there and we always camped at this location when we were in the Canyon.

On this trip, I discovered what looked like a shelter. It was within about 20 feet of our campsite. This was right down on the creek bank in the roots of a tree on the edge of the water. The roots had been exposed by erosion from the creek and sort of arched out into the air. Across these roots had been laid some sticks (looked like dead falls, not cut with a
tool). On top of these were remaining vestiges of leaves that had been placed there. This formed a lean-to type shelter big enough for one man (or maybe one bigfoot). The whole thing looked well-weathered as if it had been there a while. It gave the clear appearance of being constructed, rather than sticks and leaves deposited there during flooding.

What struck me then was that this would not be a very good shelter - right on the creek. What if it rained and the creek rose? So maybe not a shelter? Hunting blind? Possible - the trail up the mountain to where the elk were was visible across the creek a short distance away. But a man could have built an equally effective and more comfortable blind up on the bank several feet above the creek without compromising his stealth and camouflage. I went across the creek and looked at it from the trail. It was visible, but I was looking for it. In its presumed original state, with fresh leaves over the branches, it would have been much less visible. So maybe it was a blind rather than a shelter - but for who? Man or man-ape?
(Note: I MAY have a slide of this....... gotta look.)

Event 4: Now they get better..... these last 2 have DEFINITE bf overtones.<>

Lower Mora Canyon, summer 1973. Large group - probably 8 or more guys. In the cliffs above our campsite (I mentioned them earlier), there was a cave visible (and I definitely DO have a slide of it). A couple of the more
energetic guys decided they were going to climb up and look in the cave. The rest of us were puttering around the campsite. They left, we saw them climbing up a steep hillside alongside the cliff until they were out of sight in the trees. We never saw them come out on the ledge in front of the cave, but we did see them come back down the hillside. This hillside was too steep to climb up or down normally - they had to walk sideways and plant their feet with edges into the hillside, like skiers do.
When they came down, they were not doing this - they were running down the hillside in bounding leaps, digging their heels in, risking a potentially dangerous fall if they lost their balance and fell forward. It would have looked like "the agony of defeat" film clip. When they walked back into camp, we were surprised they had not been hurt. They passed off the run down the hillside as a misjudgment - they hadn't realized it was so steep, and they were laughing it off (maybe in the face of fear).

After that discussion ended, somebody asked, "Well, did you get to the cave?" They answered no. They had gotten up to the level where the cave opening was and were getting ready to move onto the ledge when they smelled a horrible smell...... as if something was dead in there. Thinking that they had stumbled on a bear or cougar's den with dead prey in it, they thought better of it and came back down. That's why we had never seen them come out on the ledge - they never had and they had just come down the hillside.

That "horrible smell" has the earmarks of bigfoot signs. There also exists the possibility that they were right....... both bear and cougar do inhabit the area. I don't know much about bear or cougar behavior, so whether or not they den in caves in summer and drag prey to dens is not known to me. But this is closer to bf stuff than some of the other events. I wish now I had followed up and looked more closely for signs when I was there.

Event 5: Not sure of the chronology here....... the 1973 events could be in a different order than I presented them.

Summer 1973 - Lower Mora Canyon.

I was stationed at Cannon AFB in Clovis NM - 225 miles from Pecos. On this occasion, we all had duty until 4:30 pm Friday and then had to get our stuff together and take off. We didn't get to Pecos until after dark. On other trips when we got up there late, we'd camped at Iron Gate and walked in in the morning. This night we decided to walk in in the dark. We were young and fearless (and foolish) and we knew the trail pretty well by then. I think there were 3 or 4 of us. We didn't have any lights beside 2D cell flashlights - I might have had the only one and no spare batteries. It was REAL dark and the flashlight wasn't going to make it. It was pretty ineffective anyhow. So we turned it off and let our eyes adjust. We could just barely make out a few feet of trail in front of us, but we took it slow and we were doing fine.

Suddenly................ (it's getting good now, huh?) ahead of us and above us, there was a huge crashing as something HUGE broke down the hillside. There was a crashing and cracking of branches and whatever it was had to cross the trail just ahead on the way down, maybe 50 feet ahead of us or so, and kept going down the hillside... straight down, crashing all the way. The noise lasted a minute or two and apparently ended when it got to the canyon floor. I couldn't find it with the flashlight beam, which was pretty weak by then. It had that "freight train" or "runaway bulldozer" sound described in other encounters. One of the guys said (jokingly), "Holy sh*t, that sounded like bigfoot!" - which was my thoughts exactly. I spun and said, "Don't say that!". Then I had to explain that I thought it was entirely possible that bigfoot could live in the Pecos, and that I'd had a morbid lifelong interest since childhood and that John Green's s-shaped worldwide distribution curve passed right through Pecos and that................. All of which was met with huge guffaws and derision, and for the rest of my time around them, they'd say stuff like "Hey Mac, is that a bigfoot behind the tree over there?". All good-natured though.

Anyhow, to finish the account...... sounded like this thing went STRAIGHT down the hillside. The hillside was covered with aspen trees and several species of coniferous trees - Douglas fir, lodge pole pine, pinon. Whatever it was made a helluva lot of noise as it crashed through the trees and brush - just the crashing, no other sound. I'm not sure if it was
running or tumbling - remember my description of how steep the hillside was. I saw no signs as we passed where I thought it had gone through, but the light was bad and we didn't have the luxury of wasting battery juice looking
around too much. We got down into the canyon and set up camp without further incident and got a fire going and bedded down for the night.

On the walk out, we tried to find in daylight where we had heard the thing, but no success. So, to wrap it up I have said that in the area there are numerous large game species....... black bear, mule deer, white tail, elk, cougar, even bighorn sheep. There is another large animal - cattle. The Forest Service allows grazing in some areas. We saw cattle a few times and even found a dead one on the trail once - probably a winter kill, stuck in a snowdrift, since we saw it early in the year just after spring thaw. So, it coulda been a cow or a bear or elk or maybe even a deer. Coulda been a bigfoot too.

Non-event 6: I took my wife (now ex) to Pecos on our honeymoon in 1974. She just wasn't cut out for the wilderness life LOL. It rained the whole time, we were stuck in our tent (that had certain, uhhh, advantages). I haven't been back since. I had hoped to get back out there sometime permanently, but I came back here after the service and pretty soon it was marriage, mortgage, kids, work....... the grind.

Okay, conclusions. Pecos Wilderness Area has all the attributes necessary to sustain bigfoot.

Remoteness, isolation, and space. No large population centers nearby (Santa Fe then was relatively small and 60 miles away, Albuquerque even further, Pecos and Glorieta are little villages, and Cowles is a tiny hamlet with cabins and campsites. The Sangre De Christos are the rugged southernmost extension of the Rockies. There is just about NOTHING in northern NM except mountains and forest. 1/4th of the state is National Forest land, the majority in the north. The state population in 1970 finally went over 1 million. I'm sure the area built up somewhat during the Sunbelt boom, but the Pecos Wilderness Area is now larger than when I was going there - they have acquired 70, 000 acres more land.

Interesting factoids: Taos is just over the hill from Pecos Wilderness ..... at its northeastern end. The Taos Pueblo Indians have a name for bigfoot: T'oylona, or "Person Big"


ACTIVITIES OF WITNESS(ES): Not Given

DESCRIPTION OF CREATURE(S): Not Given

OTHER NOTES: Not Given

RESEARCHERS NOTES: Even though the incidents that were reported did not conclude with a sighting of a Bigfoot, there is a chance that what was heard could have been a Bigfoot fleeing through the forest.

We have found trails where these animals have made their way through thick undergrowth, and did it with ease. Small native pines pushed over to the ground, and most briars, and lower canopy cover was ripped from the ground. The statements about the skeleton being found in such incredibly good condition seems strange to say the least, but I have personally found many skeletons in the same shape. Some were Deer, and some were of Raccoons. I am impressed with the details described in this recollection of the incidents.

I personally would like to thank the submitter for this submission.

Bobby Hamilton (GCBRO)



Report taken and Posted to the G.C.B.R.O. web site by Bobby Hamilton

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