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Of course you don’t believe in Bigfoot. Why should you? You’re probably reading this article on a computer or from a newspaper in a well-lit room. You’re probably looking around your civilized, comfortable surroundings and having a good chuckle. To think that some people actually believe that there’s a nine-foot tall, half man, half ape like creature walking around out there in the woods that may or not tear your head off if you encounter it.
“Reeeeeeeally now,” you say to yourself….
OK, let’s change things up a bit. Step outside into your backyard. Better yet, go someplace really wild, like the middle of the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. Walk down one of the many lonesome dirt roads out there, say around midnight. Even better, make it around 1 a.m. on a moonless night.
Now, have Dave Warner, leader of the “Bigfoot Tours” sponsored by the Valles Caldera, loudly knock two pieces of wood together.
Quiver in your boots when you hear, somewhere out there in the vast, silent, dark, primal wilderness of the Caldera, something knock back.
How’s your belief system now?
Warner, along with friend Mike Gerashuis, Brian Lewis and several others are part of a group that have partnered with the Valles Caldera National Preserve to make believers out of the skeptics, and to give the believers confirmation. Recently they’ve been taking people deep into the preserve to try and catch sight or perhaps gather physical evidence of the elusive creature.
If anyone is skilled at this it’s Warner and his group, who at one time were associated with the well-known, Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. Now they are off on their own, taking people out into the Caldera by van to see what they can see. They were inspired by an associate of theirs, the leader of the BFRO Matt Moneymaker to start the tours after declaring in a USA Today article that the Caldera is one of the top seven most habitable places in the U.S. for Bigfoot.
“The folks at the Valles Caldera saw that and saw an opportunity to take people out here to see if they can experience it firsthand,” Warner said. “I was the local guy everyone knew in Jemez Springs that did this kind of thing, so they chose me to help guide these tours,” he said.
It’s not the group’s first outing out into the Caldera, having hosted tours in the past for BFRO as well as gone off on their own to see what’s out there.
Warner has been interested in Bigfoot since he was knee-high to, well, Bigfoot.
“When I was 10 years old, I saw a still image in a magazine at school of that creature taken from the Patterson-Gimlin film footage,” he said. “When I saw that, I was intrigued. I said ‘That does not look like a human in a suit,’ and that’s what got me curious about it and what it could possibly be,” he said.
His fascination increased during high school, when he had some experiences in wilderness north of New Mexico that he just couldn’t explain.
“I heard some really loud screams that could not be matched with any recording of wildlife that I’ve heard,” he said. “However, on the BFRO website they had some recordings from Washington, that sound very close to what I heard.”
To sign up for a trip, (last tours are Sept. 28) just go to vallescaldera.gov/comevisit/tours.
Warner and the others guarantee an education, as well as a good time. Before the tour, Warner will show you castings of Bigfoot’s footprint made from other tours and other evidence, and will also teach you how to do a Bigfoot howl and knock sticks together in such a way you just might get a response back.
If you do go, bring a snack, as well as friend. Tours can last from four to six hours, and the Caldera can be a pretty spooky place when the sun goes down. You will be taken out to places in the Caldera that you’ve probably never been. Transportation is a well-maintained van that makes several stops throughout the night at places Warner and his crew have heard or found evidence of Bigfoot nearby.
“It’s a little like fishing. Sometimes you hear something, sometimes you get nothing. You never know,” he said.