The ‘Sierra Sounds’ are a collection of bizarre vocalizations many believe to be actual recordings of Sasquatch. Recorded over the course of several years in an unknown, remote deer-hunters camp between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, the ‘Sierra Sounds’ collection is an essential pillar of not only Bigfoot sound evidence, but for ‘proof’ of these creatures as a whole.
This creepy clip from ‘In Search Of…’ (1978) is a good introduction to the ‘Sierra Sounds’:
Background of the ‘Sierra Sounds’
In 1971, Ron Morehead worked as a hospitality manager and church board administrator in Merced, CA. One fateful week, Ron learned that a family friend & fellow church board member was two days late returning from a high-Sierras hunting trip. The man’s wife explained to Ron that his hunting troupe encountered mysterious creatures that made “horrific, intimidating sounds and left five-toed prints around their camp.” One of the men even fled the site in terror.
A known explorer/adventurer and trusted friend, the man asked Ron to return with him to the area and collect evidence. Soon thereafter Ron trekked into the wilderness with a small group that included the hunter-friend and Sacramento journalist Alan Berry. The first trip yielded no results other than fragments of perceived toe prints in sand. The follow-up adventure was much more eventful.
On this trip, once they reached the remote deer-hunters camp, it didn’t take long for the mysterious beings to arrive from a nearby ridgetop.
Luckily, Ron & Alan brought ammo.
Well, tape recorders.
Though they evaded sight stealthily, the creatures whistled, screamed, and vocalized towards the men several times. After the invaders faded into the night, Berry and his companions found large bare-foot prints in the snow and pine.
For the next year or so, Ron, Alan, and friends returned to the site with microphones, tape cassette recorders, and plaster of Paris for foot-casts. It seems that, more often than not, the team encountered the supposed Bigfoot. Furthermore, they found the creatures to be incredibly stealthy. Camera traps were evaded easily and only brief glimpses were ever attained. Luckily, the phantoms overlooked the discreet microphones taped to bush branches and hanging from tree limbs. Over time, the team successfully collected high quality audio and footprint casts: a treasure trove of Bigfoot evidence.¹
Listen to the ‘Sierra Sounds’ Part 1:
Listen to the ‘Sierra Sounds’ Part 2:
About Alan Berry
I think it is important to note that, early on, Alan was very skeptical. Aside from being a former officer in the Vietnam War and holding a Master’s Degree in Science (if those accomplishments equal integrity for you) , Al was an investigative reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He cared very much about accuracy, and was described as a man of great character. He accompanied the men for a breakout story. Until his death in 2012, he always felt that “it would have made the story even more interesting if he could have discovered how anyone could have pulled this off.” His primary goal in the initial trips was to disprove the encounters. He was convinced of the hunter’s deception and even rummaged through their packs to find evidence of the fakery. He never found a shred of proof that he was being deceived.
Where is the Spot Exactly?
Ron and his group certainly found a super secret spot. According to a radio interview with BigfootEvidence.blogspot.com, the approximate area is inbetween Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. Ron provides a nice rebuttle to skeptics on a hoax page of his website, providing some general geographical details:
- The Sierra camp is over eight miles, walking, from the closest road, any road.
- The trip is very exhausting. The men (about half way into the trip) would often leave the forest trail and proceed different ways to the camp, so as to not leave an obvious trail.
- The camp is over 8,000′ in elevation. In the fall it would snow and freeze.
- The men would always look for evidence of other people that may have been in the area. Rarely was any other humans within miles of the Sierra camp.
How many recordings of the ‘Sierra Sounds’ were collected?
Several clips of the ‘Sierra Sounds’ can be found across the internet. I first heard this evidence on the In Search Of… clip where Al recreates an evidence collection session from 1972. There are staples, but I believe there’s still quite a bit of audio that’s not readily available, but can be purchased on Ron Morehead’s website. To date, Ron has released two collections (available on CD or digital download), and a book about his experiences (also available to download). Here are the descriptions for each:
Bigfoot Recordings Volume One: A True High Sierra Wilderness Story
Description: Produced in 1996 by Ron Morehead features very clear vocalizations captured in 1972, by Alan Berry, the investigative reporter brought into camp . Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, narrates. (40 minutes)
Bigfoot Recordings Volume Two: The Bigfoot Recordings
Description: Produced in 2003. Written, produced and narrated by Ron Morehead. It features rhythmic rapping-pounding sounds, and almost understandable phrases emanating from these creatures. (40 minutes)
Looks like about 80 minutes of high quality evidence. Hell yea.
Studies Supporting the ‘Sierra Sounds’
The ‘Sierra Sounds’ underwent a year-long evaluation at the University of Wyoming. The researchers determined the origin to be primate, and that one of the speakers possessed a vocal range and lung capacity much greater than the average human’s.
Additionally, they ruled out the presence of alteration. The tapes had not been sped up or slowed down or even re-recorded. They were organic pieces of evidence.
“The unusual growl-like sounds and whistles were studied by Dr. R. Lynn Kirlin, a professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Wyoming. It was his opinion that the format frequencies found were clearly lower than for human data and their distribution does not indicate they were the product of human vocalizations and tape speed alteration.”
Went Worth College Professor and former U.S. Navy crypto-linguist Scott Nelson determined that the ‘Sierra Sounds’ feature an actual deliberate language. With over 35 years in the field and fluency in four languages (English, Russian, Spanish, and Persian) his expertise led to the realization of more than grunts and snarls. He believes there are clear distinctions tagged on to the words in the form of phonemes. Phonemes are sound unites that “distinguish one word from another in a particular language.” Phonemes directly cause accents, since foreign-language speakers apply one type of phoneme inventory (French, for example) to a language with a different one (English). Nelson even created a transcription of the recordings by slowing the ‘Sierra Sounds’ down considerably. Per his report:
“Sasquatch Language is spoken approximately twice as fast as any known language in most analyzed recordings, therefore it must be slowed down to be transcribed accurately.”
Nelson’s ‘Sasquatch Phonetic Alphabet (SPA)’ paper is truly amazing. Even if these theories never lead to a definitive conclusion, one can’t deny Nelsons work proves there’s much more to the ‘Sierra Sounds’ than just primal grunts.
“Because of what I did in the Navy, spending years and several thousand hours speeding the human voice up and slowing it down, I could just detect language in those vocalizations.”
Like any piece of Sasquatch evidence, the ‘Sierra Sounds’ are highly debated.
We need to keep adding good, conscious evidence in bulk to the pot, but we ultimately need to strain out the flimsy bits. The ‘Sierra Sounds’ are held in high regard, but what do some skeptics say?
A Hard Skeptic: Karen Stollznow, ScientificAmerican.com
“The vocalizations are an amateur impression of how a proto-language might sound if it evolved from non-human primates. This “Bigfoot” is likely human, and the ‘Sierra Sounds’ a combination of hoax and misidentification, like all of the other evidence for Bigfoot.”
“Similar to the claims of the (so far mythical) Orang-Pendek, Bigfoot would probably communicate using vocalizations. However, non-human primates don’t have the physiology to produce a wide variety of speech sounds, so it is unlikely that Bigfoot would have developed language, or would be able to speak existing human languages.”
Youtube user Hippies WithGuNs recorded his own version of the ‘Sierra Sounds’ and I must admit, he does a good job. He certainly nails the “pig monkey” sound, as he puts it, but admits he needs to work on the whistling. Check out the video and let me know what you think.
¹ Natalina. “10 Extraordinary Questions With… Ron Morehead of ‘Bigfoot Sounds’.” Extraordinary Intelligence. N.p., 31 July 2013.