Labor Day is almost here, a holiday when millions of people will be heading out to our forests and National Parks for an annual, end of summer get-away
in the beautiful outdoors.
Some of them may never be coming back.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that most of us do our best to avoid, yet from the dawn of time mankind has been irresistably drawn to telling horror
stories around the campfire. Some of the earliest known stories were designed to scare us--but not just of anything-it is believed that our ancient
ancestors greatest fear was that they might be eaten by some carnivorous beast.
It turns out that there's ample fossile evidence to back this up, suggesting that early hominids were regularly preyed on by large carnivores.
Humans dread of being 'meat' for something else has left its mark on our evolutionary development and psychology.
No matter how technologically-advanced or rational we think we've become, stories of predatory beasts, real or imagined, still
tap into our archetypical fears and remind us just how vulnerable we actually are.
The fear of being ambushed and eaten in the wilds is one that has been ingrained in us over countless millennia.
So it's no surprise that a new book,
Missing 411, written by a
retired police officer and Bigfoot researcher, David Paulides
(Tribal Bigfoot and The Hoopa Project), has generated the controversy it has on the Internet.
Is there some mysterious, elusive, predatory creature stalking the wilds of North America?
makes a strong case of this that is difficult to ignore.
In our modern age of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, GPS, and social-networking, it's comforting to know that we're almost constantly connected to
our friends and loved ones, wherever they may be, whatever they might be doing. We can know where they are, where they've been, and where they're
going-and we can be instantly connected to them just inside of a few seconds.
So it makes it all the more shocking to find out that even today, people can, and do, vanish off the face of the earth without a trace.
is a terrifying new book about people who have mysteriously disappeared in the wilds of North America.
The author, David Paulides, was at a National Park doing research for another book he was writing, when a tip from a Forest Ranger lead him into a
3-plus year investigation of people who have vanished in the forests near or inside of our National Parks, sometimes in the presence of friends and
relatives, and the unusual circumstances surrounding their disappearances.
People are calling it the most disturbing book they have ever read. It is impossible to put down or forget.
David Paulides is a retired police officer and knows that people get lost in the woods, or they commit suicide, or there is an accident, and
some people even intentionally want to disappear off-the-grid-but this book is not about those people.
is a book about the unusual cases of missing persons which baffle relatives and authorities.
Paulides identifies clusters of missing people across the U.S. and Canada, cataloging unusual disappearances which have been happening for centuries and
are still happening; he talks about the National Park's attitude towards missing persons, and an ongoing cover up to suppress the data
(presumably because its 'bad for business'), and he also exposes cases on missing children which do not appear on any national database;
he shows unusual (and often times disturbing) details about the cases which happen over and over again; the unusual behavior of bloodhounds/cadaver
dogs involved in the search process; and details about how the surrounding environment also plays a role in the disappearances.
Click on image to enlarge
Cluster map of missing persons from Missing 411. Image credit: David Paulides
One person writes, "What was creepy about the book was not so much the stories about people who disappeared forever - after all, I read and write about
missing people every day - but about people, mostly children, who disappeared and then were found in places where they should not, could not, be."
The implication here is that they were picked up and carried off by something.
In many cases, one cannot help but be reminded of the Native American legends of the "Mountain Devils" of Washington State, called 'Seeahtiks' by the
Clallam Indians, who were described as giant, hairy, ape-like creatures who lived around Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest, alleged to have
stolen Indian women and babies, murdered, and terrorized people for centuries, according to Native American stories. The Seeahtiks were believed to
hunt by stunning their prey with hypnotic powers, possessed superhuman strength, and their existence was kept a secret by the Indians for many generations.
Some Indians of the Pacific Northwest spoke of the Seeahtiks as an outcast 'tribe' who in the process of evolution did not fully develop into modern humans
when we were changing from animal to man.
There are plenty of other Native American stories in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere about Indian children and women being carried off by
cannibalistic giants. These types of legends are typically associated with Bigfoot.
There are also the numerous stories of the Wendigo, a beast-like creature with an appetite for human flesh, variously described with matted hair,
glowing eyes, and long yellow fangs, who stalks the 'lonely places'. The Wendigo legend was prevalent in the northern United States and Canada,
largely involving a cannibalistic predator who roamed around woods and forests in the coldest climates where food was scarce and survival was challenging.
Paulides avoids talking about these sorts of Bigfoot legends in the book, but the inference is implicitly there.
Could there be any truth to these legends? Or are they just silly stories told around the campfire to frighten youngsters?
I don't know, but it certainly is chilling to think about.
Sometimes, he writes, missing people were found naked, or semi-naked-articles of their clothing lying nearby, as though removed and set aside.
Some bodies were covered in deep scratches, some not.
And some people were eaten.
For every frightening 'monster' the cases in
Missing 411 conjures up,
there's usually a perfectly logical explanation: hypothermia, exposure, lost, a known natural predator, a serial killer, foul play, accidentally
falling into a mine shaft, etc.
Usually being the keyword here.
In respect to the missing person's families, Paulides does not offer any theories as to what he thinks is behind all these bizarre and disturbing
disappearances-he keeps that to himself-but the book's already created a sensation, and quite predictably, the web's buzzing with fringe theories of
everything from Bigfoot to Aliens to a Supernatural Evil.
Of course we will never know for sure, but in a lot of cases, Paulides makes a compelling argument that there may be something elusive and predatory
lurking in our forests and National Parks that's hunting people all over the United States and Canada.
Setting aside all the fringe theories, even if it's just a natural predator or serial killer at large, it's still a pretty damn scary mystery.
No less disturbing is the National Park's laissez-faire attitude towards all this, according to Paulides.
He claims the NPS stone-walled much of his
efforts to research his book, in one instance, asking him for up to tens of thousands of dollars to supply him with information requests from FOIA searches
about missing people in California's Yosemite National Park.
Paulides claims that he was told by the NPS that they do not keep records of persons who have vanished or went missing in their parks, or any other
details as to locations, dates, times, or circumstances. This is very disturbing. For example, how would a park or authorities ever know if there was a
serial killer or other predator utilizing the park to abduct or kill victims?
Paulide's answer: they wouldn't, since they do not monitor or track basic statistics.
Paulides believes there's a reason that the NPS does not want to release statistics on missing people, it's because they don't want you to know.
Particularly disturbing to me were the Mount Shasta cases, since I've spent years hiking around Mount Shasta and the Marble Mountain Wilderness,
alone for the most part.
In Missing 411,
Paulides classifies Mount Shasta, California, and its surrounding environs as one of the "cluster sites" where people disappear under highly unusual circumstances.
Two of the top 'highly unusual' cases Paulides writes about originate from Mount Shasta and the nearby Marble Mountain Wilderness.
These disappearances are reported to have occurred in 1999 and 2000.
Mount Shasta, California
In 1999, a 69-year-old Orinda man, Carl Landers, disappeared on Mount Shasta during an attempt to climb to the summit. He was accompanied by
two friends, Milt Gaines and Barry Gillmore.
As a group, the three men were camped at a location on the mountain called 50/50, below Lake Helen, where most climbers spend the night
before the last push up to the summit.
Carl disappeared after he complained of feeling poorly, and he left the 50/50 location without his friends to get a head start up towards Lake Helen.
After his friends never caught up with him, they reported him as missing.
Carl's friends described him as an experienced climber, hiker, and distance runner in good shape.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department started searching immediately, enlisting the help of the National Guard air ambulance helicopter
and a CHP helicopter equipped with an infrared sensing device. A ground search was conducted by U.S. Forest Rangers and volunteers on skis and on foot.
They found no sign of Carl on the mountain, nor any trace of his clothing, backpack, or equipment.
The search effort was headed by a man named Grizz Adams, who talked to David Paulides while he was researching his book. According to
Paulides, Adams told him: "…35 years I've never had this happen to me…we were all over that mountain, he was not on the mountain…we brought canines in,
they didn't pick him up…we flew around it, we dropped guys at the summit, they came down all sides, they couldn't find him…they talked to people who
were on the mountain, they didn't see him…there's snow around the path where he was, and nobody went outside the path…"
It is guessed that Carl disappeared somewhere between 50/50 and Lake Helen, but in the topography of the area where he vanished there is
nowhere for him to disappear to?
Mount Shasta, 50/50 camp area. Image credit: http://mountainproject.com
Mount Shasta, view from Lake Helen. Image credit: http://www.manofaltitude.com
When Paulides asked Grizz Adams what he thought happened to Carl Landers on the mountain, he replied: "…that's the million dollar question, he
either went up, or in-but he's not on it."
Paulides reports that the Carl Landers to this day has never been found. Not a single piece of his climbing equipment was ever recovered.
In 2000, a 70-year-old San Anselmo woman, Rosemary Kunst, vanished from Spirit Lake in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. She was looking for a spiritual
experience in the mountains, and wanted to be able to connect with her deceased husband, who was killed in a tragic car accident two years earlier.
Rosemary was attending a week-long sacred site spiritual retreat with a small group of people, sponsored by the Earth Circle Organization in Yreka,
California, and operated by Karuk Chief and Elder Charlie "Red Hawk" Thom.
Every year, the Earth Circle Organization trekked to the remote location of Spirit Lake in the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area just west of Mount
Shasta, California, for the purposes of a spiritual retreat.
On August 18 at 9:00 a.m., Red Hawk informed the group that they were going to hike to a nearby lake, and that they would be back in time for supper.
Rosemary decided that she wanted to stay behind and enjoy the beauty of Spirit Lake. The group left, and Rosemary asked Red Hawk's twelve-year-old son
if he wanted to hike with her to the other side of the lake, a location that she hadn't explored. He declined and said he would stay behind with the
camp cook. Rosemary asked for a small bagged lunch to take with her, and the cook prepared it. She said that she was going to go for a short walk to "try
to mingle with the spirit of her deceased husband". That was the last time anyone ever saw or heard of her.
Spirit Lake, Marble Mountain Wilderness
At 5:00 p.m. Red Hawk and the group arrived back to the camp from their day hike and realized that Rosemary hadn't returned from her walk.
After an hour of trying to locate the missing woman, Red Hawk became concerned and a decision was made to contact Siskiyou County Search and
Rescue and declare an emergency.
Rescue teams, helicopters, and search dogs were called in to explore the steep, rocky terrain surrounding Spirit Lake, but after a week of
combing over the area the efforts of more than 150 search personnel came up empty.
David Paulides reports that Grizz Adams, commander of the Siskiyou County SAR operation, was also the coordinator of Rosemary's search, and
stated that he was disturbed about some issues surrounding Rosemary's disappearance from the very beginning. The south end of Spirit Lake where
Rosemary disappeared did not have a path where a 70 year old woman could walk out of the basin, you would need ropes and climbing equipment.
If Rosemary wanted to leave the lake, she would have had to walk by the cook and Red Hawk's son, which she never did. Canines could never pick up Rosemary's scent, which was odd because they knew where she had headed. Cadaver dogs could not pick up any human scent. He further stated that if there had been a bear or mountain lion attack, there would have been blood and signs of a struggle, but nothing like that was ever found. Her lunch and lunch bag was never found.
"The assumption at this point is that she's not alive," said Grizz Adams, the spokesman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department.
Law enforcement officials had no reason to believe she was the victim of a crime, or that she took her own life.
"There's just no evidence of anything. There's nothing to go on," said Adams from a command post set up at a small airport in Scott Valley.
They said that they found a few strands of hair in thick brush far from any trails, but that was the only clue discovered, and they do not
know if the hair belonged to Rosemary. Adams said investigators haven't been able to use the hairs to develop any theories as to what happened,
and that there will be no further effort to find her unless new clues surface.
David Paulides interviewed Charlie "Red Hawk" Thom who stated that he believed Rosemary somehow got into a canyon called Devil's Back Canyon.
He never completely explained why he thought she disappeared into that canyon, but he was fairly sure that is where she went. He had no idea why
she would have left the safety of Spirit Lake.
Grizz Adams further stated that he had been involved in coordinating more than 400 SAR operations, and that Carl Landers and Rosemary Kunst's
disappearances were the only two times in his life where he never found any trace of the victims.
Following the publication of
Missing 411, David Paulides has been the target of a few vitriolic, ad hominem attacks on the Internet carried
out by anonymous perpetrators who refuse to identify themselves, but that's to be expected by any author who publishes controversial material
which brings up undesirable subject matter-particularly for people involved in various government agencies or the tourism industry who will find
the unwelcome publicity and unwanted information in the book extremely provoking.
But whatever you think of
Missing 411, good, bad, or indifferent-the author's done a public service in raising awareness about how utterly
dangerous and unpredictable it is in the great outdoors, and when you're out there to be particularly careful for the sake of your children,
yourself, and your pets. Hike with a friend, carry a transponder, and let people know where you're going.
If getting the crap scared out of you by Mr. Paulide's book saves a single life, than perhaps Missing 411 should be lauded.
Written by Dustin Naef - MessageToEagle.com Contributor
About the author: Dustin Naef
has been a student of ancient mysteries and the paranormal for as long as he can remember.
He has worked in screenwriting, graphic design and illustration, produced and designed video best-selling games, and is
currently involved in the production of a film documentary and book about the mysteries surrounding Mount Shasta, California, co-authored by Alyssa Alexandria.
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