Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains right outside of town are deeply instilled in the history of bigfooting. Wes Sumerlin, Paul Freeman, and others are names that should be immediately identifiable by any bigfooter that has been in the game for any serious amount of time. The Blue Mountains were their haunts, and I think it’s safe to say that more physical evidence of bigfoots has been collected from there than any other location.
The Blue Mountain evidence was taken very seriously by Dr. Grover Krantz. He was a strong advocate of the dermatoglyphic details that he found there. In fact, it was really the Blue Mountain dermatoglyphics that made up one of Krantz’s main arguments that bigfoots are real animals (along with the Patterson/Gimlin Film and the Cripple Foot prints from Bossburg, Washington).
Krantz died in 2002, but not before Dr. Jeff Meldrum had a chance to meet with him in his laboratory to review the footprint cast evidence that the late doctor had accumulated to that point. It was on the return drive from Pullman, WA that Dr. Meldrum and his brother decided to swing by Walla Walla unannounced to pay a visit to Freeman.
When Meldrum arrived at Freeman’s home, they spoke for a while about the footprint evidence that Krantz had shown them, and then he had the opportunity to see some of the footprint casts that Freeman had at his home. Apparently Freeman was impressed with Meldrum’s knowledge of foot anatomy and casually offered to show him the first set of prints found that season (which were described as “not very good”), which were just found that same morning.
Of course, Meldrum was skeptical. How could it possibly be that Freeman had found fresh footprints just that morning, not even knowing that he would be visited that same day by an anatomist that would want to see the prints? Meldrum agreed to see the prints, and together they traveled out to Five Points, not far from Mill Creek outside of town.
It was these footprints that really changed Dr. Meldrum from someone who was interested in the evidence surrounding bigfoot into someone who has had a first hand experience with bigfoot evidence. The anatomy was consistent with other ape footprint anatomy. The depth indicated great weight and was indicative of the dynamic signature of such a foot. Freeman, the discoverer of the prints, incorrectly read the situation and didn’t even find all of the footprints at the scene. The same individual was known from previous evidence, and would indeed be found in the future. Everything lined up, and everything seemed legit.
Much more is said about these footprints in Dr. Meldrum’s excellent book, “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science,” which I consider a “must-read” for any bigfooter. For now, it is important that the reader understands that this same footprint evidence is what brought us to Walla Walla as a starting point for our investigation.
We knew that the Blue Mountains were going to be cold in February when we had our visit, but nobody could have predicted “Snowpocalypse,” which hit hard and fast that same week in early 2014. The weather was most disagreeable, and really prohibited our ability to access many areas we planned to hit. Even Meldrum’s low elevation spot where his prints were found in 1996 was under six to ten inches of snow when we were there. These were not the conditions in which they were found, though we were there at the same time of year to within a couple weeks.
Though much of the area where I wanted to investigate was inaccessible because of the snow, I did get to meet and interview some very interesting witnesses. Most prominently among these was the daughter and grandson of Wes Sumerlin. Both had fascintating stories to be told, and will be cooperating with me on the future installments of Bigfoot Road Trip. Jonathan Sumerlin, the grandson of Wes, has since become a friend with whom I communicate frequently. He has chosen to carry the torch of his grandfather and does bigfoot investigations in the Blue Mountains as his grandfather did before him.
One of the stops I made on my solo investigation was the Tollgate Store. This small establishment in Tollgate, OR houses a number of bigfoot footprint casts on the walls. I believe at least one of them is an original print from 1986, though this is uncertain. Jeff, the owner, was more than willing to share his limited knowledge of the prints, but he bought the establishment from someone else and knows little about what brought the casts to the building. The Tollgate Store is definitely an great stop for anyone interested in bigfoot footprint casts on a bigfoot road trip through this part of the country.
The final night investigation was a horrible thing to participate in. The temperatures were very, very low, and the wind was blowing mercilessly. Of course, Bobo and Matt were in a nicely heated vehicle, so they didn’t get the full kick in the crotch that Old Man Winter was happy to give out, but Ranae and I sure did. We spent six or more hours out in the howling wind, unable to see more than a few dozen yards due to the blizzard-like conditions, and being deeply discouraged. It was a true bum out. Who says that television is a glamorous job?
Though the weather did not cooperate with us in the slightest bit, the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington offers bigfoots a perfect place to hide. Much of it is inaccessible, and there are relatively few people going into the untrodden depths of the deepest canyons. There are bigfoots there. How they survive the harsh winter conditions we encountered is unknown, but bear, elk, and deer all do it well. Why not bigfoots?
I think the Blue Mountains offer some of the best chances to encounter a bigfoot in the West. I will return, with or without Finding Bigfoot. You will hear about what I find here, on my website.