Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bluff Creek Film Site Project, Journey of Rediscovery: Confirmation! By Guest Blogger Robert Leiterman

The PGF "Big Tree," October 2011.
Photo by Robert Leiterman.

Mid-December, 2011 Edition... 


Robert Leiterman is a California State Parks Ranger. He is also a published author and accomplished public speaker and videographer (see his resume at the bottom of this blog entry!). He is one of the three original members of our Project to rediscover the location of the Patterson-Gimlin film site and study the history of the Bluff Creek region in which the film was shot (and where "Bigfoot" was more or less born). He joined Ian and I during the summer of 2010, first acting mainly as a curious videographer, but by the next year he was not only a full research participant, historian, and natural-historical expert of the area, he was also an inspiration. Though Ian and I are PGF geeks, it took the determination of Ranger Robert to get us to endeavor to survey and document the site we found to be the best candidate. Without him, and the vital help and mind of Rowdy Kelley, who joined us toward the end of this summer, we may never have accomplished this. What we found was, truly, way beyond our expectations. We'd thought (save for Ian, who had essentially dropped out from the project most of the summer due to other life requirements) that we had found the right site. We had Bob Gimlin's reconfirmation as icing on the cake. The results of our site survey, though, showed confirmations greatly in excess of what we could possibly have thought would still remain on-site. We found everything: the Big Trees, the stumps, the debris piles, and the approximate course of the film's trackway, still there on the essentially intact and protected Bluff Creek sandbar. In a way, it was practically a time capsule. However, I'll let Robert tell the story, from his unique perspective and in his own style. Here you go. Enjoy! --Steve

See below, too, many maps, diagrams and site photos which are representative of the data we have gathered.
Some of these will be made available to serious folks who may wish to aid us in the analysis of the site. We'd especially like help from professional types in photography and surveying.
Bluff Creek Film Site Project, Journey of Rediscovery: Confirmation!
By Robert Leiterman
Written 11-11-2011
Robert Leiterman, resting from surveying at the north end of the PGF site.
Photo by Steven Streufert
(NOTE: Some of the photos below are by Robert Leiterman, where noted, and he retains copyright.)

I tossed my tattered notebook and my brush trimmers onto the ground for a quick break to vent my concerns and frustrations. It was well after 6:00 in the afternoon on this hollows eave Sunday (interestingly, the day of the premier for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot two hour special on, of all things, Bluff Creek and the Patterson-Gimlin Film Site). We still had a check-off list to complete before the last of the sunlight faded away for good. Here I was in Six Rivers National Forest in Northwestern California, on a forested gravel bar along the watercourse of Bluff Creek, with Steven Streufert (bigfoot historian and bookstore owner), one of three film site zealots who make up our current team. The concept of the Bluff Creek Film Site Project was a byproduct of frustration. As a group, we decided to try to put an end to the confusion as to the exact location of the P.G. Film Site once and for all. Only the two of us (of the five members who have participated) have managed to make the journey for this October 30th weekend project. Steven is out of Willow Creek, only about two hours of mountain roads from the P.G. Film Site. I’m more in the range of three hours, coming from Fortuna. Our third party member, Ian, caught a bug and regretfully canceled at the last minute. He would have been looking at four hours coming from Redding. It takes two to accurately operate a measuring tape, so we’re still in the game for now, but not much longer. Unfortunately for me, Steven can only stay for a couple of hours (with family obligations to fulfill). He should have already started his nearly two mile hike out of the canyon and back up to his awaiting vehicle before the cloak of darkness engulfed him, but I asked him to stay a bit longer to hash out a couple more items.
Ian and Robert on a more clear area of the PGF sandbar, near creek.
Photo by S. Streufert
Ian and Robert on the gravel bar downstream from the PGF site, on
an earlier trip this year. Photo by S. Streufert.
The little warmth we had managed to absorb from autumn’s low-angle rays had already dissipated hours ago. The remaining light was quickly absorbed by the surrounding forest and had disappeared faster than we had expected. This time of year, any sunlight that did manage to briefly grace the exposed canyon bottoms and gravel bars of Bluff Creek was a welcomed gift. I questioned myself, wondering if we’d be able to finish this portion of the project during these remaining two days. I was racing against time and I was my worst enemy. Did we bite off too much this time? Did we overestimate our abilities? My anxiety was building. But, as far as I was concerned, weather-wise, it wasn’t raining like hell, like it did last year.
Big Tree and Maple. Photo by Robert Leiterman
 I had decided to spend the night there alone on the forested alluvial flood plain, serenaded by a handfull of tree frog holdouts and whispered to by the babbling creek, camping right there on what we were trying to confirm was the true location of the P.G. Film Site.
Dead and live alder trees, as seen in the PGF.
Photo by S. Streufert
We were fighting against the building low pressure weather and the expected rains. Changes that would in turn bring seasonal gate closures and limited access. We had two field days left to complete the site grid that Steven Streufert, Rowdy Kelley (a local field researcher friend of mine) and I started the week before. We had also planned to extract core samples from the surrounding trees that inhabited the alluvial flats. With that information, we would be able to estimate the ages of the trees and use that pertinent data to finish our grid.
PGF Site Map, 11-1-11 Revision.
Copyright by Robert Leiterman and BLUFF CREEK FILM SITE PROJECT.
Click to Enlarge.
Back on October 21st through the 24th, 2011, Steven Streufert, Rowdy Kelley and I decided to apply a bit of forgotten “algebra,” by utilizing the concept of X and Y axis points and the basic science of extracting core samples to count the trees’ growth rings. Our plan was to divide the alleged film site into a north/south (“Y” axis) and east/ west (“X” axis) meridians. We then divided each grid into a 30 foot by 30 foot (10 yard) work areas, every corner point on the grid was designated by a flag with the appropriate locating coordinates. Within those grids we recorded stumps, root balls, logs, debris piles, larger trees and anything else that we felt was significant in that it was old enough possibly to be there in 1967, when the film was shot. I know it sounds complicated but once the trees are eliminated, on paper, from the view shed the familiar artifacts can be noted. The film site location that we had decided to grid was what we originally called the Cliff Barackman (reality-TV star for Finding Bigfoot) Film Site proposition. For the record, we’re now calling the place the P.G. Film Site, after having changed it to the “Gimlin Site.” I’ll explain that, though, later in this essay.
PGF site tree. Photo by S. Streufert
We had already conducted our field research for the potential film sites proposed by a bunch of other researchers, downstream, during our 2010 investigations. Because of our work load, we were only able to briefly search the upper sandbar area of the Barackman/Gimlin/P.G. Film Site location during the time of our video filming. During the 2011 season, we tried to focus mostly on were now calling the P.G. Film site, having essentially ruled out all of the others. Steven and I did some preliminary investigations in June, and found the lower sandbar of the “General Consensus” area to be inadequate. In July, Steven Streufert, Rowdy Kelley and I guided BFRO expedition members on an orientation tour of the five perspective P.G. Film Sites, heading all the way up the creek from the Bluff Creek Bridge, three miles downstream. Finally, we participated in three separate investigative trips in October, and two of those were spent creating the film site grid.
Rowdy Kelley, during surveying. PGF sandbar.
Photo by S. Streufert
Last September and October of 2010, Steven Streufert, Ian (Field Researcher), Rip Lyttle (Cryptozoologist) and I had spent a considerable amount of time and energy exploring and investigating the three mile length of Bluff Creek and an assortment of gravel bars. We started at the Bluff Creek Bridge and traveled up the creek to the area often called the “bowling alley”. To do it right, we needed to apply the same line of testing to all the potential film sites along the ½ mile section of Bluff Creek where the main site location propositions were claimed. After following up on and confirming the evidence of the old Bluff Creek Road that followed the creek to the film site locations, we found a potential candidate for Gimlin/Paterson campsite (potentially matching a description in Barbara Wasson’s book, Sasquatch Apparitions). Our first film site location to investigate was the proposed M.K. Davis Film Site. From there we investigated the proposed Peter Byrne Film Site Location. And then the Christopher Murphy potential film site. The farther we investigated upstream, the better the sites looked. At the end of 2010, the area above Murphy’s location was starting to look good. We were at this point still in the area noted by Daniel Perez in his booklet, Bigfoot at Bluff Creek, but exploring a potential trackway path that no one had yet proposed.
Steve with the PGF Big Tree during survey.
Photo snapped by Rowdy Kelley.
The overview (“aerial”) photograph that Rene Dahinden had taken from the hillside back in 1971 was comparable to what we had experienced looking down from the hillside road area onto this potential film site spot, in the middle between the lower and upper sandbars. The gravel bar looked great! But, because of the heavily reforested gravel bar and flood plain, we couldn’t see through the trees. We realized that we needed to do something different if we wanted to be able to compare the 1971 overview photograph. During our last trip in October 2010, I finally got to focus on what we were calling, at the time, the Cliff Barackman Film Site (P.G. Film Site). From what we had seen, it had most of the artifacts we were looking for. So, at the end of 2010, we decided that we would finally focus on the P.G. Film Site during our 2011 season. We also decided that we were going to grid the site area so we could focus more on the artifacts that could confirm the site, in effect removing the forest to see the Big Trees.
Draft 1 of Map, with "aerial" photo comparison.
Leiterman map and photo.
By “artifacts” we meant things like the size of gravel bar, location of creek, film site dimensions, proximity and locations of big trees, logs, stumps, root balls, locations of huge root balls, debris piles, tree clusters, locations of large trees on the gravel bar, proximity and height of the nearby hillside where a photo could be taken that would match the 1971 film site overview taken by Rene Dahinden, and also the back lighting potential. It was quite a list, but useful nonetheless. During our investigations we found that many artifacts were found in some, but not all of them in one of the downstream proposed sites. The exception to these was the last site location up the creek, adjacent to the “bowling alley.” This was what we are now calling the P.G. Film Site, based upon our grid and mapping work.
Stage Three, Map with Comparison to Dahinden Photo showing
myriad correspondences. Photo and Map by Leiterman.
Steve and Ian had been looking into these issues since the early to mid-2000s. Since September 2010, we’ve been documenting our journey through the B.F.R.O’s YouTube channel with 45 episodes (so far) of our The Bluff Creek Film Site Project series. At 10 to 11 minutes a pop, it was quite a commitment of time. For those of you who are curious what the Bluff Creek area looks like, or what challenges we encountered in front of us, have a look.
The Dahinden photo with clear remains of the PGF film site as seen in
1971 and in the 1967 film. Marks by Leiterman.
As it turned out the upper sandbar, first identified to us in our research efforts by Cliff Barackman, was the best candidate. Here, following, is a bit of history on it.
Stumps from the 1966-67 salvage logging, rotten but still present on site.
Photo by R. Leiterman.
Back in September of 2003, Sunday, the last day of the Willow Creek International Bigfoot Symposium, a group of renowned Bigfoot researchers and witnesses like John Green, Bob Gimlin, Daniel Perez, Christopher Murphy, Dmitri Bayanov and Tom Steenburg, just to name a few, had taken a field trip to revisit the Bluff Creek Film Site. Daniel Perez more or less led the way. The end result was confusion and frustration, as none of them could agree to the film site location, so obscured was it by trees, and so changed since 1967 or 1971. The question arose, had too much time gone by without proper documentation and continuous knowledge? Had the memories of these primary figures in Bigfooting begun to fail? Had the true site location been lost?

Test footprints left in sandbar to see if they will last though the winter,
as reported by McClarin and Green in 1968 on-site.
Stomping by Steve, photos by Robert.
That day Bob Gimlin, despite initially not recognizing the place, had talked in private with James “Bobo” Fay (also a star for Finding Bigfoot), about a location, farther up the creek than where most were focused, that looked familiar. In turn Bobo had shared this location with Cliff Barackman who had spent a considerable amount of time himself exploring the Bluff Creek localtiy. Cliff in turn shared his belief that Gimlin was correct with Steven Streufert. Daniel Perez, who had been providing us with film site information, shared the topographical map containing Dahinden’s “X” as the film site location. Our un-answered question was whether or not the “X” was the start, the middle or the end of the film site. We found that Daniel’s clarification of the mark fell right upon the spot Gimlin had chosen as the site of the first sighting of the creature.
Perez booklet map. Why couldn't anyone locate the site? A very
confounding issue indeed, as that is Rene Dahinden's mark.
We had to explore the whole area above and below "National" to
rule out the proposals of other researchers.
In August of 2011, Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot was down on Bluff Creek to film a special two-hour episode on the area that aired of October 30th 2011. To get useful video on the site area they had to avoid the trees, so they only filmed in front of the gravel bar next to the creek, starting in the vicinity of Gimlin’s first sighting claim. The film crew never made it onto the 1964 flood plain sandbar and into the heart of the film site where the track-way of the subject would have to be located. My two friends and fellow squatchers, Bobo Fay and Cliff Barackman had both explored the Bluff Creek area in the past. On the set of Finding Bigfoot and away from the cameras, Bob Gimlin once again confirmed that the P.G. Film Site area looked familiar. He stated that the larger logs appeared to have been washed farther down the creek (though the huge root ball-attached tree trunk was still in sight of the site). He also said that he remembered the creek being closer to the southern hillside where the old road ran down, and that the gravel bar across the creek had been eaten away considerably on its facing side.
Gimlin with Finding Bigfoot, 2011
Not surprisingly, we could imagine the whole scene as he described. Many of the landmarks were still there on the site area.
Rowdy investigating debris piles near the stumps at the end of the film site.
He is looking off onto the "bowling alley" of Bluff Creek, to the east.
Photo by S. Streufert
Bill Munns (for 30 years a Hollywood costume designer and film effect master, now a P.G. Film Investigator), who had never been to the film site before, had created a three-dimensional animation of the P.G. film Site using only internal film data and perspective, with moving Patty and Roger Patterson icons. He examined every frame of the second generation P.G. Film copies he got his hands on to reconstruct the pathway taken by the Bigfoot and Roger. His goal was to reconstruct the gravel bar and relative positions of the camera and film subject, based on what he was able to see in the film itself. Surprisingly, his animated project looked an awful lot like the upper sandbar area we were attempting analyze. Seeing Munns’ recreation led to us reorienting the angle of our view upon the site area, leading to us seeing that a diagonal course of the filming event heading across the sandbar was plausible. Counter-intuitive though it was, this scenario worked very well with the confines of that spot. To see the animations for yourself, look up the Munns Report online, or the Bigfoot Forums thread of the same name. 
Two paths identified by Bill Munns, drawn upon the
Draft One map. A preliminary confirming look only.
We think the camera position is to left of debris pile.
So, you see, it wasn’t an accident that we eventually decided to grid out this potential site location. As far as we were concerned comments like … “The site just looks right!” or “It felt right!” weren’t going to cut it for the true P.G. Film Site zealots. There was evidence right there on the ground, and we could document it. Suddenly the big trees off to the right hand side of the sandbar made perfect sense, too, and they looked to be the right size.
Screen capture from the Bill Munns view of the film site that helped us
greatly in reorienting our view of how the film action occurred.
To prove it, though, we needed to remove the old forest from its current trees on paper and focus on what was left after taking away the new growth. We needed to expose and record the stumps, logs, root balls, trees, debris piles and anything significant within. Our first step was to locate a common-sense starting point. We chose the start point for our grid near where Bob Gimlim stated the gravel bar and surrounding features had looked familiar. This vicinity is where Finding Bigfoot filmed the recreation in their episode (the gravel bank in front of the sandbar, that is).
Munns' digital site model in screen capture, showing how the "Big Trees"
are really located way to the "right" side of the sandbar, and seen at an
angle across the site, not in the apparent "straight line" seen in the film. The
greatest enemy to finding the site was film perspective flattening and illusion.
To find our own path, we took a direct north bearing with corrected declination (that difference between true north and magnetic north) with our Ranger Sylvia compass. With a hundred-foot measuring tape in hand we headed north, marking our course along the way as we traveled through the creek, across the gravel bar, up the incline, and into the 47-year-old re-grown forest. We constantly double-checked our back bearing to maintain our accuracy. At 378 linear feet, we reach the bottom of the slope at the north. Surprising, just to our right was an old large, moss covered big leaf maple in its autumn grandeur. Just to our left and partially up the slope in front of us was one of the largest Douglas firs (the type of trees seen behind the creature in the PGF) we had seen at any of the alleged film site locations. With its aged, rough, pock-marked bark, it fits the description that Peter Byrne recalled (though his location of the site was incorrect). Off to our right were other large trees, and beyond them, more large fir clusters. Things were looking good.
Big trees as seen in 1971 Dahinden photo, detail.
The next step was to apply our basic axis--X and Y axis, positive-negative meridians--and produce a workable grid. Half of our north grid line was 189 feet, so that was going to be our workable center off our X and Y meridians. Next was to draw an east/west meridian grid line for our X axis. From there we measured and marked our 148 foot west meridian direction line to the base of the hill and we marked our 210 foot Eastern meridian directional line to the base of the other hillside to the East. Our eastern meridian line reached the edge of the bluff (bowling alley) at 153 feet. It appeared that a portion of the 1964 gravel deposits from the December flood, 47 years ago, had been eroded away from the southwestern corner of the P.G. Film Site by the persistent creek. I give you an eye ball estimate at best of 60 to 100 feet of gravel based on who you ask. With that said, not knowing the exact position of the creek and the location of the gravel bar road to the southern edge of the opposite hillside in October of 1967, it’s all a hard guess. On the other hand, the “bowling alley” portion of the creek on the eastern portion of the P.G. Film Site has stayed relatively within its original channel as it churns through the narrow canyon in a straight line. In doing so, the creek has left a portion of the film site intact or potentially recognizable, in a way protecting it. The landslides, the hungry creek, the growing forest and fading memories hadn’t taken it all yet.
Note how the big trees site to "right" of site, as in detail above.
They actually sit exactly on due magnetic north from the first sighting.
Our next step was to divide the grid into 10 yard/30 foot square increments using a positive/negative X and Y axis point grid. Within each grid box we were to draw in every log, stump, root ball, debris pile, large trees, or anything else significant.
Black and White Version.
Copyright Robert Leiterman, Bluff Creek Film Site Project
One of the last things we set out to do this time around was to estimate the age of the trees that occupied the flood plain within our grid. You see, 47-year-old trees were around during the 1964 flood. Existing trees at that time on the level of the flood waters would have either been killed or severely damaged in some way. Anything 44 years or older had to have been around during the filming of the P.G. footage. Dead snags are seen along with stumps and logs. The new trees would have been three years old or less at the time of the filming. At 40 year old, the trees would have been growing for 4 years after the P.G. Film was taken. These would have shown up during the 1971 over view take of the film site by Rene Dahinden.
Data collected is presented in the following details.
These are reduced size but still huge, with full resolution 50-inch images
 available for research. Copyright Robert Leiterman, Bluff Creek Film Site Project
We didn’t have to measure all of the trees in the film site location--that would definitely take more time then we had. Through circumference measurements (outside of the bark) and taking core samples (drilling a hole through the tree to count the growth rings) to confirm the age of the tree, we could eliminate almost every single tree on the sandbar without cutting any of them down. We were going to put a little science to work to help us see the forest without the trees. When we were done, we had planned to have an accurate map of the current gravel bar/flood plain to compare with the 1971 overview photograph taken by Rene Dahinden of the then well-known and identifiable P.G. Film Site. And that we did. It couldn't have worked out better.
Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
As it was, we found out that the oldest tree on the flood plain was a big leaf maple growing near the debris pile near the front. Its circumference was 77 inches, with an estimated age of 41 to 45 years. Judging by its large base and multi-forked top, the tree had seen tough times. The oldest and largest Douglas fir in the flood plain (near the creek edge), approximately 30 feet from the large protective debris pile had a circumference of 60 inches and was estimated to be greater than 35-plus years. We ran into core rot that prevented us from getting a more accurate age estimate. The red alders, large trees that dot the film sandbar, are very deceiving. The larger of the red alders on the film site we measured were 48 inches in circumference, but through a core sample, we found them to be an estimated 27 years old. Alders grow, and die, and decay, rather quickly. They were definitely not a factor to be considered in the film site unless they were the dead snags seen in the P.G. Film itself. Those, however, rotted away a long time ago. From what we can tell, determining the age of the trees was helpful in showing that the sandbar had been predominantly clear in 1967.
Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
Steven and I have become very familiar with this place. In fact, on October 30th we were currently at the back edge of what we were now thinking was the long-misplaced P.G. Film Site. Misplaced you say? Due to the fact that numerous parties didn’t agree on the exact location of the P.G. Film Site, we were forced to come here to clarify the issue. This is one of the reasons we were here, anyway, aside from the natural beauty of the place, and the ever-alluring idea that Bigfoot might still be out in those hills.
Big Tree Measurements. Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
A little more than a year ago, Steven, Ian, and I had gotten into a discussion about where the film site was. The more people I asked, the more unclear things seemed to become. Several well known Bigfoot researchers couldn’t even agree on a location, let alone on other issues. How could that be? I got to thinking, if the UFOlogist could hand-deliver me upon request to the alleged alien crash site in Rowell, New Mexico, why couldn’t the renowned Bigfoot research dudes take me to the exact gravel bar where Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin documented their life-changing encounter with a legendary creature, on 16 millimeter movie film from a Kodak K-100 camera, back in October 20th. of 1967? I wasn’t asking for the exact footprint locations, or DNA samples, just the gravel bar. Most researchers agreed that the film site was within a half mile radius along a section of Bluff Creek, located geographically in the wilds of Northwestern California’s Six Rivers Nation Forest, and to be more accurate, within the boundaries of Del Norte County. This is what we have been calling the “General Consensus Site Area.” A handful of researchers had put the film site either about a mile and a half down river (MK Davis) from the “bat boxes” (where Peter Byrne located his Film Site), or upstream toward the vicinity of Scorpion Creek. The problem here was, only one of them could to be right. There is only ONE true PGF site. The question was: whose? We focused on five of the most popular and practical locations.
Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
Our views of the canyon walls were obstructed by 47 years worth of forest growth from encroaching Douglas firs and riparian environment, their crowded branches merciless in some places. To reach these picturesque, old growth, landmark firs, our every other step had to be methodically placed. The entangled tripping hazards, uneven ground, discarded dead branches, and ankle- or knee-grabbing ground cover were wearing us down.
GPS Readings at Sighting.  Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
We crunched noisily through the decaying forest litter as we wove our way through the strangling masses of vine maples. The beautiful autumn yellows of the big leaf and vine maples dotted the forest canopy, their fallen leafs beautifully lined our path. Very few of the vine maples reflected the scarlet reds found in the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Bluff Creek footage, however. Those controversial reds worked their way into the ridiculous conspiracy and hoax theories of some researchers. Much like last September and October, the vine maples were still awaiting their first cold snap of the season to set the mood and change their colors. As it was, only a few had barely started their magical transition to their scarlet reds. We concluded that the film had to have been shot in late October, when Bob and Roger had said it was.
Tree Bore Data.  Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
Both Steven Streufert and I, this time stood in front of what fit Ian’s description of the necessary “smoking tree” that would prove the site, the Big Tree notable in the background of frame 352 of the PG Film. After today’s 30 minutes of crawling up and down and around these hillside obstacles, Steven now seemed more convinced then I had ever seen him. Last October 9th Ian had joined us as we tromped through this particular alluvial flood plain searching for recognizable big trees, stumps, logs and debris piles. Outside of a few disagreements along the western edge of the site, for the most part, we had liked what we had seen. Ian, as always, remained skeptical. For the most part, though, this site had an assortment of stumps, logs, root balls and debris piles that appeared to be in the right places. Before us, like in every other potential film site candidate, lay a mix of second growth Douglas fir forest, ferns, moss covered logs and trees growing out of sand and gravel deposits from the devastating 1964 flood that altered the landscape in Northwestern California. Up on the hillside, though, above the flood level, it was different.
The Axis. Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
CLICK TO ENLARGE. Note, the upper GPS is a mis-reading.
The site’s northern region remained relatively intact, groves of large old-growth Douglas firs were well entrenched along the hillside. To the east, the erosive power of Bluff Creek remained well within the rock confines of what we’ve been calling the “bowling alley”. Here the creek flows virtually directly north and south for a considerable distance, cutting a deep channel eight to ten feet below the eastern edge of the eroding site sandbar, before it slams into the canyon wall downstream. Here, Bluff creek is forced to take an immediate turn southwest and then west as it collides with the natural rock protected embankment of the canyon wall. From that point the creek has been eating away at the 1964 sand and gravel deposits for the last 47 years. All part of nature’s plan to find a balance.
Logs and Stumps.  Research Purposes Only.
Copyright Robert Leiterman and the Bluff Creek Film Site Project
It is the creek’s relentless action, the gravity-influenced flows that had many believing that the flow of water had virtually removed all signs of the historic P.G. Film Site. If fact it is those very processes that may have preserved this particular gravel bar. For lack of better explanation, we lucked out by having much of the bend in the creek protected.

“Hey, look at this…” the excitement was notable in Steven’s voice as he waved around his smart-phone flashing me the coveted photograph that Daniel Perez sent him with the understanding that he wasn’t allowed to share it with the public. “I’m pretty sure that these are the same ones.”

He’s right, the familiarity is obvious to this hungry, tired researcher. After spending the last year tromping up and down the three-plus miles of Bluff Creek with P.G. Film Site geeks he has a point. I felt my heart rate increase as well when I started to think about the significance.

You’re wasting your time, the ghost voices drifts from the memories of earlier conversations with doubters.
In the color picture on the phone screen, three huge fir trees assumed the proper positions to be those seen in the 1967 film, still standing. To our left, adjacent to a large big leaf maple in full Autumn splendor, stood a huge fir with pock-marked bark, similar to the one described to us by Peter Byrne.

Almost in an direct easterly line, from left to right, approximately 32 feet away stood the second large fir in the lineup, The Middle Tree.

 Just 14’away from the Middle Tree stood a thinner dead fir snag, its top laying on the hillside above it, almost entirely grown over with salal (low growing ground cover that produces edible blue berries in fall). The Spiky Snag… as seen in several old photographs, the secret Perez photo from 1977, as well as the 1971 over view photo taken by Rene Dahinden.  It’s hard to know just how long ago the top had broken off and came to rest on the uphill portion of the slope.

And another… approximately 32 feet away, in an easterly direction, stood another huge fir with numerous broken, dead branches protruding in ladder-like “rungs,” out farther than two feet from the trunk as far up as the eye could see. This was the Ladder Tree, a very distinct feature in several of the old site photographs.

What was more, approximately 30 feet up-slope from the Big Tree, and well within a 70 foot radius of this unique cluster of trees was a large fir that leaned towards the Laddeer TreeThe Leaning Tree, a feature we’d noticed before. Now, that one even got me more excited.

But the film site is washed away… lost forever, the inner doubts say again. I keep the ghosts at bay.
You see, in the top right corner, behind what is being called the Middle Tree, in the overview photograph of the PG Film Site taken by Dahinden, is a large leaning fir. What were the odds that all of these features would line up together? Was it beyond coincidence? With tape in hand, per Bill Munns’ request, Steven and I scrambled across the hillside and measured the distances between the three main trees. Even more striking, the whole scene also slopes off to the right, giving the areas similarities to the frame 352 shot found on page 58 of Christopher Murphy’s book, Meet the Sasquatch.

How could this all be mere coincidence? Did this means that the big trees weren’t cut down as thought by so many, or that the film site hadn’t all been washed away by the meandering creed as believed by most researchers? Does this mean that Peter Byrne, M.K. Davis, Christopher Murphy, and all the others were misinformed about the PG Film Site location? Did National Geographic get it wrong when they landed their helicopter on the wrong film site? Sorry Christopher Murphy. Did Animal Planets’ Finding Bigfoot get it right (at least finding the gravel bar in front of the film site)?

My night alone on the film site proved uneventful; there were no unexplained sounds in the night, and no mysterious visitors, despite the game trail that passed near my camp. Maybe they decided to let me rest in peaceful slumber. I find it interesting that some people still ask us if we have ever found any evidence of Bigfoot up there. I wish I could say we had. Out of all of my trips over the last two seasons in the Bluff Creek area, the only strange encounter I have to share was my hearing a muffled conversation from an adjacent feeder creek adjoining Bluff. It was late afternoon and I was hiking the creek back alone, working my way the three miles back to Louse Camp from a long day of investigating the proposed film sites. My hasty follow-up investigation found no one around.  

Solitude makes you think. Spending my last night on the film site for this 2011 season had my mind racing. I thought about the time I had spent away from my family, about taking the kids trick-or-treating the night I’d get back, what the results of our project would mean, the friends who’ve supported and assisted me (and the ones who hadn’t) on this journey. I couldn’t help but wonder what dominated Patterson’s and Gimlin’s thoughts that day back in 1967 and the days that followed.

They did the impossible. They filmed a supposedly legendary creature in an isolated canyon on Bluff Creek. Roger didn’t choke when it was show time. Gimlin didn’t shoot the creature out of fear. They were even able to stay clear, make the right choices, follow the tracks, pour the casts and cover some of the remaining track evidence to be recorded later. They safely made it out of the canyon before a major storm trapped them. They had been in the right place at the right time. Were they gifted, or cursed, by the spirits of the canyon? Only they would know. One thing I’m sure of, both of their lives were forever changed. So were ours.

I thought about the film site itself. How at one time, October 20, 1967, Bluff Creek had been a known landmark. How by the mid-1980s it was just another place to read about. How people like Rene Dahinden and Daniel Perez fought to keep the memories from fading, but couldn’t keep nature from changing the place over time. They couldn’t keep the facts in fading memories from disappearing, or the public’s interest from being drawn elsewhere. I wondered if they themselves had forgotten the exact gravel bar, assuming that nature had already dealt her hand and had taken back the gift. They thought that just pointing to a bend in the river was good enough. It isn’t and will never be good enough. To truly understand the significance of that day, one needs to talk the talk and walk the walk. You need to smell the trees, drink the water, and experience the autumn splendor.  I had truly feared that the P.G. Film Site was in danger of being erased from memory, absorbed back into the forest, to be lost forever as a real, known location. I’d like to think what we have attempted to discover and document has made a difference, somehow. 

The big trees, the leaning tree, they all seemed to point the finger in the right direction. Were these Ian’s “smoking trees”? For me, the answers were not in how the frames in the P.G. Film matched what we saw before us. It wasn’t just in the memory of a man whose life had been changed forever by what he had witnessed. Yes, those were all important connectors, but I needed to understand, I needed to make the connection my way. For me, it was also about bringing the past in line with the present. I needed to compare the Dahinden 1971 aerial with our film site grid of today. I needed to be sure… I needed to double check our grid map… I needed to confirm the ages of those trees…. 
October 31st 2011. I got up at first light. I continued our project alone in the peacefulness of the morning. I cored and measured trees, completed and double-checked the grids for accuracy. I tried my best to video tape the process. I even focused on detailing and mapping all of the tall stump areas, which later proved to be a good call.  When I was finished, I packed up my camp and hiked back up to my vehicle. I could hardly wait to update the grid map when I got home.

You could imagine my excitement when I was finally able to compare my finalized grid map with the 1971 overview photo taken by Rene Dahinden. Despite Steven’s encouragement, I had been holding out on my opinion until I could compare the two. At first I thought it was coincidence, but then item by item, it all started to match up within reason and beyond randomness. Questioning my own judgment, I asked several others. Every one of them thought there were big similarities. One individual even questioned what the odds were that a forested gravel bar would have this many similarities to the gridded map we had created. One even asked why I had drawn a map of Dahinden’s 1971 over view photograph, and was surprised to hear that the map was of a gravel bar rediscovered 40 years later. Even Bill Munns was excited about our map and site discovery.

Some skepticism remained, though. When Steven e-mailed Ian our most recent gridded map and asked to compare it with the 1971 overview, Ian (who hadn’t been able to be there on our last site trips) wasn’t convinced that they were necessarily from the same location. Always the stickler he insisted that the similarities might have been coincidences. Well, stranger things have happened in the universe. He still feels that the elusive P.G. Film Site might still located either in between the M.K. Davis and the Peter Byrne sites, or tucked in just down river from Dahinden’s X-marked spot. He still looks for the smoking tree. I have the feeling we will be back out there again next year to take another look. I still need to finish the southwestern corner of our grid map. There are a couple of root balls, the size of a room, within a stone’s throw of the film site that needs some attention.  I guess the question we need to ask is … How much change do we really expect to see in 40-plus years? Compare the map and the overview and see for yourself. Did we nail it or are we just fooling ourselves? Did the haze from the smoking tree get in our eyes?

With that said I still found the similarities quite uncanny. They are as follow (see the comparative image):   
The “V” shaped logs near the big log to the east.

The pattern of logs around the two taller stumps (the detailed map of this decaying log pile proved to come in handy) had several matches. Though some of the logs were missing or rotten away, more than four of them were still there where they should have been.
Possible match?

Several of the larger stumps on the eastern portion of the grid map matched positions with the overview. Though not every stump drawn in the grid map was accounted for, some of those could have been covered by young trees, sand, and vegetation. Not a perfect match but definitely a congregation of similar stump patterns.
Possible match?

On the far eastern edge, a decaying log with extended branches, very similar to one that can be seen in the 1971 overview. When liked up in relation to other artifact the directions match.
Possible match?

An assortment of log and debris found about the same location as others.

Bigger root balls located in the same locations along the southern edge.

Two clusters of stumps in the northwestern grid that match the overview.

There is a cluster of 4 larger firs in the alluvial flat that virtually match in the western portion of the grid. Only one tree on the north end isn’t accounted for. But there is a stump in its place on the grid map. Could the bottom tree that looks dead be a snag now on the grid map?

Then there is the combination of the Big, Middle, and the Ladder trees to the north the combination Steven so favors. The snag near the middle tree on the overview matches the one in the grid map.

And the most unusual for me is the leaning tree that is near the Big Tree and Middle Tree. There is a leaning tree in the overview and a leaning tree on our grid map. Could they be one in the same? What are the odds of that?

One item by itself is possibly coincidence.  Four similar items in themselves… luck. What would a couple of dozen be? Is it time to play the lotto? When you orient all the artifacts together, they all appear to be where they are supposed to. Sometimes finding the answers to the questions isn’t always as complicated as we make them out to be.  
A special thanks to Steven Streufert, Ian, Rip Lyttle, and Rowdy Kelly for their contributions of time and effort to this project, I could not have done it without you all.
You can follow our hands-on, boots-on-the-ground quest for the P.G. Film Site, started last September 2010, with our video documentary series, The Bluff Creek Film Site Project, as well as others projects edited and produced by yours truly, Robert Leiterman. The ongoing project may be viewed on the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (B.F.R.O.) YouTube Channel. For the deeply inquisitive, there are 45 episodes from the 2010 seasonal effort with more to follow from our 2011 Film Site work as well.  

Robert Leiterman a graduate from Humboldt State University with a BA in Recreation Administration and minor in Natural Resources has been a Field Researcher with the BFRO since November 1999. He organized the first public BFRO Expedition in May of 2004 and has assisted with 18 others through 2011. Since 2009 he has been documenting numerous video related projects, several of them for the BFRO on their BFRO You Tube Channel. His current project, Season Two of Journey of Rediscovery The Bluff Creek Film Site Project documents their journey of locating the P.G. Film Site. He is currently a park ranger on California’s North Coast. His unique experiences and his vivid imagination has inspired him to share the richness of the North Coast environment in educational, but yet entertaining way through numerous articles and several books. He enjoys being with his family, spending time in the outdoors and squatching.
Bigfoot Related Activity:

Presenter: BF symposiums @ Discovery Museum Bigfoot Discovery Day 4 October 15th through October 17th 2010. Reconyx Adventure Four Seasons.

Presenter @ Willow Creek Symposium Friday September 12th 2003-Bigfoot talk. BFRO

Published Author: Books by Robert Leiterman
Published Juvenile Fictional trilogy on Bigfoot:  
(the links go to Amazon, where you may buy Robert's books)

The Bigfoot Mystery the Adventure Begins
ISBN: 0-595-14175-7 iUniverse (2000)

Yeti or not Here we come! Bigfoot in the Redwoods
ISBN: 0-595-26561-8 iUniverse (2003)

Operation Redwood Quest Search For Answers
ISBN: 0-595-30513-X iUniverse (2003)

Other Fictional books by Author Robert Leiterman
Óna Crainn An Ancient Secret – From the Trees
iUniverse (February 2012)

Either One Way or The Otter
ISBN-13: 978-0-595-38218-7 iUniverse (2006)

GOJU QUEST-A Martial Artist’s Journey
ISBN: 0-595-34185-3 iUniverse (2005)

Great Valley Grassland Adventure
ISBN: 0-595-20302-7 iUniverse (2001)

Other articles on the BFRO and other newsletters: written by Robert Leiterman
BFRO The Grasshopper Peak Trail Follow Up.
Round The Campfire Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot Sept 1999 Issue.
Rangers doing B.F. related Campfires. 
BFRO The Bigfoot Stigmata.
BFRO Bigfoot Rock Art.
Article related to:
Bigfoot Behind the Redwood Curtain.
California Department of Parks and Recreation News and Views Spring 2003 http://intranet index.htm
BFRO Sierra Snow Mounds.
Public Discussion Forum:

Making of the Bigfoot Ranger.
The Redwood Current-North Coast Redwoods District Newsletter Fall 2007- California State Parks

BFRO Rangers’ Proposal for use of Reconyx RC60 Cameras. BFRO Website December 2008

Putting a Road to Bed Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot October 2010 issue.
Also on (search under Leiterman)
Saturday December 17th 2011
Bluff Creek Film Site Project, Journey of Rediscovery … guest bloger on Bigfoot’s blog

Articles mentioned:
News Letters: (mentioned within)
BFRO Website wrote article about The Video I produced on the North Coast Trail - skunk video March 2011 Unknown web address
The Bigfoot Times:
Bigfoot Meets-Discovery day 4 guest speaker- Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot Sept. 2010 issue

Bigfoot Discovery Newsletter:
Follow-up Alton report-Bogus- Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot October 1999 issue
Reports- Alton Report-Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot Aug. 1999 issue
Book Stuff-Penning The Bigfoot Mystery Bigfoot Times-Studies Center for Bigfoot May 1998 issue 

Orange County Register- interviewed during BFRO Fall 2007. Sierra Nevada California-Northern Sierras-Auburn November 1st through 4th 2007.

Blogs: (mentioned or written)
Saturday December 17th 2011
Bluff Creek Film Site Project, Journey of Rediscovery … guest bloger on Bigfoot’s blog (search under Leiterman)

Thursday November 17th. 2011
Patterson-Gimlin film site Rediscovered … and documented. The Bluff Creek Film Site Project Reaches Preliminary Conclusion re. the location of the True PGF Site. 2010 Bluff Creek Film Site Project  (search under Leiterman)…/friends-cookies-and-wackos.html

Radio shows: (interviewed)
MNBRT mnbrt Jan 3rd 20011 with Steven Streufert, Ian C. and hosts.
Shane McMahon & Vic Cundiff’s Campfire Shadows Blog Talk Radio Feed and Pod 9th 2009…..With guest Bart Cutino

Shane McMahon & Vic Cundiff’s Campfire Shadows Blog Talk Radio Feed & Pod 29th 2009…With guest Mike Ray

Stan Courtney 48 in 08 interviewed Bart Cutino and myelf on the shore of Howard Lake BFRO Expedition North Coast California-Mendocino-Yolly Bolley- Expedition April 30th through May 5th 2008.

Video Productions: 62 uploaded to YouTube videos (11-2009 through 4-1-2011) 
NOTE: the following videos may be found at
under Favorite Videos, or hosted on the BFRO YouTube page

Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 46 Season Two (December 2011)
North Coast Part 2 (March 2011)
North Coast Part 1 (March 2011)
Bear Facts (March 2011)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 45 Season One
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 44 Season One
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 43
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 42
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 41
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 40
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 39
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 38
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 37
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 36
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 35- investigation General Consensus Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 34- investigation General Consensus Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 33- investigation Hillside General Consensus Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 32- investigation Hillside General Consensus Film Site Hillside approach # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 31- investigation Road put to bed Hillside General Consensus Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 30- investigation M.K. Davis # 6 to camp Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 29- investigation M.K. Davis # 5 Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 28- investigation Christopher Murphy # 8 & Gen Consensus # 6 Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 27- investigation Christopher Murphy # 7 & Gen. Consensus # 5 Film Site # (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 26- investigation Murphy Film Site # 6 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 25-orientation M.K. Davis Film Site # 4 Byrnes # 6 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 24-old Bluff Creek Road # 4 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 23-A.H Film Site orientation # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 22-old Bluff Creek Road # 3 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 21-evening discussion # 2 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 20-evening discussion # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 19-orientation Peter Byrne Film Site # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 18-orientation M.K. Davis Film Site # 3 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 17-orientation M.K. Davis Film Site # 2 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 16-orientation M.K. Davis Film Site # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 15-old Bluff Creek Road M.K. Davis Area (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 14-old Bluff Creek Road # 1 (10-08-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 13- investigation # 9 Gen consensus # 4 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 12- investigation # 8 Gen consensus # 3 Barackman (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 11- investigation # 7 Gen consensus # 2 (Perez-Barackman) (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 10- investigation # 6 Murphy # 4 & Gen. Consensus (Perez) # 1 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 9- investigation # 5 Murphy # 3 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 8- investigation # 4 Murphy # 2 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 7- investigation # 3 Byrnes # 3 & Murphy # 1 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 6- investigation # 2 Byrnes # 2 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Part 5- investigation # 1 Rd. Byrnes # 1 (09-18-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Creek Access Part-4 (09-15-2010)
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Bluff Creek Film intro Part 3 09-15-2010
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Bluff Creek Film intro Part 2 09-15-2010
Bluff Creek Film Site Project Bluff Creek Film intro Part 1 09-15-2010(Season One)
Reconyx Adventure Part 4 Winter through Spring
Reconyx Adventure Part 3 Autumn
Reconyx Adventure Part 2 Summer
Reconyx Adventure Part 1 Spring
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization # 3 no music
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization # 3
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization # 2 no music
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization # 2
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization # 1 no music
North Coast B.F. Trip- Vocalization
Bluff Creek Area Research no music
Bluff Creek Area Research 
Wenatchee Part-4 no music
Wenatchee Part-4 with music
Bart Cutino Sighting- daylight recreation no music
Bart Cutino Sighting- daylight recreation
Discovery day – Bigfoot The Living Legend
Wenatchee Part-2 Paul music
Wenatchee Part-2 with music
Wenatchee National Forest Part 1 no music
Wenatchee National Forest Part 1 with music
Artwork produced:
“Hairy man”-Yokut Cave painting transcribed onto sand stone. Displayed at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton CA. Put on display 2008.

For your entertainment check out the below article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Pirates of the Eel sfgate.into/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2003/03/09/…DTL
I have given 120 formal talks to 5,037 people on the Bigfoot Subject Matter from 1999 through end of 2011
--Robert Leiterman

Forest People Friends? Bah, humbug! First there tree hugger, now there Bigfoot hugger? Out of my way, hu-man! Yuk! Me no time for this sentimental crap.

This blog is copyright and all that jazz, save for occasional small elements borrowed for "research" and information or satirical purposes only, 2011, Bigfoot Books and Steven Streufert. Borrowings for non-commercial purposes will be tolerated without the revenge of Angry Bigfoot, if notification, credit, citation and a kindly web-link are given, preferably after contacting us and saying, Hello, like a normal person would before taking a cup of salt. No serious rip-offs of our material for vulgar commercial gain will be tolerated without major BF stomping action coming down on you, hu-man.


  1. Yes Steve, I'm reading this stuff. We met last year just days after you had discovered the exact Bluff Cr. film location. None of your findings were published yet.
    I commend you and the team on your fine work.
    And thank you for taking the our group on the "show me" trip to the PG film location. I enjoyed being there and sharing the moment with you.
    I'm still doing field research on my own as well as joining the BFRO on trips. Perhaps we'll met again on some future BF outing, Linda

  2. Awesome work men, clarifying once and for all, unequivocally, beyond ANY shadow of a doubt, where this momentus historical event occurred!! Thank you!

  3. Some reasonable points here, thanks for sharing!

  4. What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience.

  5. What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience.

  6. Just the type of info I was after, great share.


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