This is an ongoing series about explorer and spelunker, Ken Gentry, and his many encounters with amazing wonders and mysteries on and in our planet.
They call it “Homer's Nose.” It's a large rock formation in the Sequoia National Park located way up a steep mountain. It can take about 6-7 hours to reach by arduous means.
Ken and a team of explorers went in search of a cave located up there. Since little was written about it, they were surprised to find it had a vertical entrance. They chalked it up to another exhausting feature that also made it totally worth the exploration.
It seems that the most amazing places are the ones that have had few human eyes upon them.
Ken had a few things on his side as he tackled this location. His father was an historian and that made Ken want to dive deep into the tiny bits of information available about this rugged location. He also came from a line of surveyors so looking at an area and figuring its best approach was something akin to studying a love interest to figure the best way into her heart.
And, this adventurer did love the great outdoors enough to do his research and design a strategy with his team.
The team trekked up to the 'nose' a few times, but there was something else about that area that held Ken's fascination and he knew he had to form a team to come back to solve another mystery.
Homer's Nose sat proudly at 9000 feet up. Below the `nose' sat a basin filled with sequoias. In fact, from his research, Ken came across talk of there being a sequoia that could dwarf the largest ones known. It was believed to be in that very basin.
The challenge to find and officially document such a specimen whet Ken's appetite for an approach with his team to try and find the behemoth.
The first trip up, they spent a few days with a fairly large group working on a grid search and a dimensional search. It didn't go well because the basin was a giant bowl and elevation of the ground varied.
The next morning, the team woke up and Ken decided to try a new approach, an elevation search. They would sweep the bowl in increments of elevation. One person would be stationed at 5000 feet, another at 5200, feet, etc. They would sweep it like a radar screen. Using their radios, they stayed in contact. About every third team would have a person who could measure a potential tree. The basin was 12 square miles, so this was a monster task.
Along the way in these very remote woods, they came across bear tracks and entered bear dens. In fact, there seemed to be too many dens to be natural for such a relatively small region of a vast wilderness. There wouldn't even be enough food supply to support them and some of the dens were not under rock ledges and simple bear-like areas. Ken plugged that into the back of his mind to ponder some other time, as he loved a real mystery in nature.
As they moved into the basin, they were pushing the creatures in too. It wasn't until that night's rest that they realized they really ticked something off.
They also found a 17-inch track in a creek.
(from Ken's Field Journal) ”We had marked and measured over 40 large Redwoods and had noticed for the third day in a row that no one had seen a chipmunk, birds, squirrel, deer nothing. But everyone had seen what we thought at the time were bear prints everywhere in the forest duff and creeks we crossed. One member, Brandon McGrath as he was crossing a downed Redwood bridge even took a picture of a print that he had measured at 17 in. thinking it was a bear. That was until that night.”
Rocks were rolled down into their campsite from above. Something had entered the camp where some hikers were in sleeping bags, others in hammocks. Early in the morning, some men heard screaming and they hid inside their sleeping bags, not wanting to investigate and turn on lights.
Ken and a few others were camping near some snow melt runoff that was loud, so they didn't hear it, but when they arrived at camp, they found something amazing.
(from Ken's Field Journal) ”We went up the hill and were floored when we saw 30 or more small Alders broke about 5 ft. off the ground in a circle around the camp. By then everyone was up either packing up or eating. Joe Rosales told us he had a rock hit the side of his sleeping bag in the middle of the night but assumed it was the boys moving around above him that had dislodged it.”
The next trek up, Ken went with a few of the men. They were looking for an easier path up to the `nose' to take a team that had filming equipment to look for Bigfoot.
(from Ken's Field Journal) “The Terrain was steep, rocky and brushy. We ascended the basin in about four hours and regrouped near the top around 8,000 ft.and came to a realization that the area did not lend itself to a grid search technique and we would half to change our search technique to not overlap. We were missing vast areas that would later have to be searched again, The density of this part of the forest was amazing and in many cases we did not see some of the Redwoods until we walked up on them. We also began seeing near the top of the basin the Bear dens we would later notice on every search in the region, perhaps as many as 90 in all.”
The men were having a lunch break and one of the guys teased about Bigfoot folks and the things they do. One of the men stood up and hollered like he had seen on TV. The woods remained silent.
Ken smiled, pick up a sturdy limb and went over to a dead tree and knocked hard three times, expecting to just startle a few forest creatures, but to their amazement, knocks were returned immediately from a distance.
Now, you have to consider this, the region hadn't seen people for perhaps 30 years in this most desolate area.
Ken figured it might be a fluke, so he picked up the limb and struck the tree again. And, it knocked back - this time much closer!
They had the fire going to heat up food, but they remained curious, not sure what to do. None of them really believed in Bigfoot, yet they were getting reactions from the forest that shouldn't be.
Ken decided to knock again and this time, no response. Everyone relaxed.
“I've heard them do rock clacking too.” One of the guys said out of the blue when they had quieted down and ignored the strange coincidences.
Ken's jaw set and he realized they weren't leaving there until they knew. He got up and took two rocks and clacked loudly.
Immediately, there was a rock clack in response and, to their horror, it was much closer!
“Hey, let's pack it up and leave. We'll be hiking in the dark as it is.” One of them announced. Everyone agreed. The men were brave in the woods because they knew the creatures and the rules, but if there was something else intelligent out there lurking, they were not prepared to come up with a game plan for that!
Ken looked down at the rocks and decided he couldn't leave without knowing if it was just a chance sound. He clacked the rocks together and you could have heard a pin drop. No one was even breathing as they listened. But, nothing sounded in response.
After they collectively exhaled, the men packed up to hike out. They had 7 miles to go and it was going be a long haul.
They were preparing to leave when a rock the size of a baseball came in from hundreds of feet away. It landed in between them in a pit where they had laid the fire.
Everyone jumped back.
Ken studied it. It had come from the ridge above them. That was a damn far distance and a pretty substantial rock!
They started stuffing items into their packs at a hurried pace. Everyone startled when another rock came in from the ridge above, and it was an even bigger rock.
Ken made a decision to try the rock clack again and see if that instigated it and what happened next shocked them all.
(from Ken's Field Journal) “A large rock, about 20 lbs. came from over 300 ft. away near the top of the ridge and landed near Billy. Now we were moving. Not one of us will make fun of Bigfoot researchers ever again so long as there work is real.”
One of the men picked up the last heavy rock and tossed it with his substantial might, but it only went about 20 feet. That startling realization had them picking up the pace to exit.
Their eyes widened as they surveyed the impossible. The rocks came from 300 feet away at the top of a ridge, each of them landing right there. It had been in the air a long time before it landed between them. What the hell could throw something like that?
The men's senses were sharpened and they hit the trail to get out. As they did, something shadowed them on the ridge all the way to the Kaweah River South Fork campground bridge. That was the last time they saw the movement up on the ridge, moving the brush, something dark and brown.
Such an experience opens the minds and makes one wonder about the existence of an “other” among us. This was just one of many insights that Ken has come across over the years in the wilderness exploring that he hopes to share on this blog.