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  Columnist: Paul Dale Roberts

Image credit: sxc.hu

Facing death at the Skinwalker Ranch.

Posted on Thursday, 16 January, 2014 | 2 comments
Columnist: Paul Dale Roberts

Chantal Apodaca looks at me and asks…”are you scared?” I look at her and calmly said…”yes.” What is there to be scared about at the Skinwalker Ranch? Lots of things, but before I talk about the ‘scary incident’, let’s start from the beginning. The day is October 4, 2008, Saturday. The time is 0900 hours. At my door are HPI paranormal investigators Chantal Apodaca and Lisa Hanley. My local scouting missions can have up to 30 investigators attending, but when the distance is far, the scouting mission party can be very small. Well, this scouting mission is far, it’s in Utah, past Salt Lake City, close to the towns of Vernal and Roosevelt. This scouting mission is the smallest one yet. Only two investigators show up at my door. I am thankful they are coming with me, because now I will have someone to talk to. I won’t lose my mind on the long, long road to nowhere. Skinwalker Ranch is the paranormal Mecca for investigators like me. Chantal and Lisa have done their research and are very excited to go.

Let's look at the history of the Skinwalker Ranch. Skinwalker Ranch, also known as Sherman Ranch or Gorman Ranch, is a property located on approximately 480 acres (1.9 km2) southeast of Ballard, Utah that is allegedly the site of paranormal and UFO-related activities. Its name is taken from the skin-walker of Native American legend.

Claims about the ranch first appeared in the Salt Lake City, Utah Deseret News, and later in the alternative weekly Las Vegas Mercury as a series of articles by journalist George Knapp. These early stories detailed the claims that a family that had recently purchased and occupied the property experienced an array of inexplicable and frightening events.

Knapp and co-author Colm Kelleher subsequently authored a book in which they describe the ranch being acquired by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci) to study anecdotal sightings of UFOs, bigfoot-like creatures, crop circles, glowing orbs and poltergeist activity reported by its former owners. Special Note: It is rumored that the NIDS was formerly the O.S.I.R. (The Office of Scientific Investigation and Research) made famous by the TV series Psi-Factor hosted by Dan Ankroyd.

The ranch, located in west Uintah County bordering the Ute Indian Reservation, was popularly dubbed the "UFO ranch" due to its ostensible 50-year history of odd events said to have taken place there. Knapp and Kelleher cite the 1974 book The Utah UFO Display: A Scientist's Report by Frank Salisbury and Joseph "Junior" Hicks, which details an earlier investigation into alleged UFO sightings in the Uintah County region, as partial confirmation of their account. According to Kelleher and Knapp, they saw or investigated evidence of close to 100 incidents that include vanishing and mutilated cattle, sightings of unidentified flying objects or orbs, large animals with piercing yellow eyes that they say were not injured when struck by bullets, and invisible objects emitting destructive magnetic fields. Among those involved were retired Army Colonel John B. Alexander who characterized the NIDSci effort as an attempt to get hard data using a "standard scientific approach". However, the investigators admitted to "difficulty obtaining evidence consistent with scientific publication." Cattle mutilations have been part of the folklore of the surrounding area for decades, but NIDSci founder Robert Bigelow's purchase of the ranch and investigation funding was reportedly the result of his being convinced by stories of mutilations that included tales of strange lights and unusual impressions made in grass and soil told by the family of former ranch owner Terry Sherman.

In 1996, skeptic James Randi awarded Bigelow a Pigasus Award for funding purchase of the property for what he termed a "useless study" of "a 'haunted ranch' in Utah".

A film, titled Skinwalker Ranch, was released in 2013, and is very loosely based on the folklore behind the ranch.

I have been to many haunted locations from Stonehenge to the Tower of London to the Bridge over River Kwai in Thailand, but never have I been to a location that has so many stories of paranormal phenomenon. I have been to countries that have unusual paranormal phenomenon like Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, but for some reason the stories from Skinwalker Ranch will stay in my mind. Now let's talk about this adventure.

The stories that stay in my mind about the Skinwalker Ranch are the following. 1. The Gormans that lived on this ranch, came across a bullet proof wolf that was chewing on the leg of one of their calves. They shot at this wolf several times and it merely shrugged off the bullets and walked away. 2. The Gormans saw a RV drive away into the hillside and later morph into a UFO and fly off in the night sky. 3. A NIC scientist witnessed a portal open up in the sky and a Bigfoot creature came out of the portal and ran off into the woods. 4. There has been Shadow People, poltergeist activity at this ranch. So, you can see I am anxious to check it out myself.

Alejandro Guzman of Enterprise Rent-a-car has my car waiting. It’s a 2008 Pontiac G-5 with satellite radio. This car saved our lives and to mark this car into history, the license plate number is 6FBB672. Chantal and I, worked on a nickname for this car. Chantal came up with The Portal, then Portal Potty and finally Portal Wheels. I took her play on names and simply called it The Rift. The Rift, a temporary HPI vehicle for this mission will get us to the Skinwalker Ranch and back. Alejandro was fascinated with my ghost hunting stories and couldn’t wait until I return to give him a report on my findings.

Chantal, Lisa and I, all piled up in The Rift and looked forward to making paranormal history... well, we hope. When you are driving over 500 miles, how do you entertain yourself. By singing along to songs like Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake, All Summer Long- Kid Rock, Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Love Train/Backstabber – Ojays. Chantal enjoyed the Backstabber song, because she was pretending to stick a knife into my back and turning it each time the Ojays said the word ‘backstabbers’.

During the trip to Skinwalker, Lisa Hanley tells us how she lived in a home in Galt, it was an old remodeled farm house. She remembers being in bed sleeping and awoke abruptly. The air in the room turned cold. She then saw a man in the mirror, he was wearing a big black hat, black trenchcoat and had no facial features. She could distinctly see the full body apparition in the mirror from 15 feet away. That was the most scariest moment in this house, other times she has seen shadows dart about here and there. She has heard distinct whispering, when she laid her head on the pillow. On this trip, Lisa and Chantal were like my guardian angels, always on the look out for danger, like when they saw a drunk driver on the road. Or when we were driving through the endless desert road in Nevada, we saw a strange old station wagon. There were animal teeth on strings. The animal teeth on strings were strewn all around the windows of the car. Yes, he had animal teeth as decorations for the interior of his car. The first thing that came out of all our mouths was ‘serial killer’? During our long trip on that road, we made several stops at places like I-80 Smokeshop and Campground (that would remind you of the gas station stop in the movie ‘Rest Stop’). Other places were Salt Flats Café and Jazzy’s Texaco Foodmart. Jazzy’s was a fun stop, two gorgeous women worked there and were fascinated by our ghosthunting stories. We took pictures with these high strung fun girls. With all of the stops we were making, when we would get back on the road again, there was the serial killer station wagon car in front of us. When we passed the serial killer station wagon, the driver methodically turned his head and looked at us. Yeah, we were creeped out, so we tried to liven things a bit and put in Sheryl Crowe’s All I Wanna Do song. We were back to normal for a while, until we made another stop, we got back on the road again and guess who we were passing by again? Yep, the serial killer stationwagon and Chantal and Lisa were screaming at the top of their lungs. That was the last time we saw the serial killer stationwagon. When the serial killer station wagon finally faded from our minds, I learned that Lisa Hanley’s son named Thomas Hanley is a rap singer and Lisa played one of his CDs. To my amazement, Thomas was a very good singer and I usually don’t listen to rap music. From what I can tell, Thomas has potential of going far in the entertainment business.

As we reached Utah, the thunderstorm began. The drive at times became unbearable, but we still had the music playing and doing sing-a-longs. We made more stops on the way, just to stretch and talk with the locals. One local we talked to was Connie. Connie never heard of the Skinwalker Ranch, but she did have a ghost story. Connie said that she lived in a home in Utah. In this home, a man committed suicide by hanging himself in the basement. On certain nights, she felt an entity lay on top of her, she would walk into a room and feel his presence. She would hear screeching and screams from the basement. The home was 30 years old and she lived in the home for 16 years. It didn’t help when her daughter-in-law moved in. Her daughter-in-law was a Wiccan, she would perform rituals of the black arts in her home. Entities were seen going inside pictures and mirrors. The family of this home, including Connie always felt drained. It was like their life-force or energy was taken from them. Connie also feels she may be a sensitive, because she can predict the deaths of people that she is close to. Connie finally had enough of her daughter-in-law and expelled her from the house. Connie smudged the home with white sage, the haunting activity finally ceased. Connie told us two more unusual paranormal stories, she claims she was actually visited by the late Margaux Hemingway. Margaux’s apparition appeared to her and discussed depression. Connie also on another night had a vision of a woman with slit wrists appearing to her and just staring at her.

Skinwalker Ranch

When we drove through Salt Lake City, we were amazed at the beauty of this city. Salt Lake City has much to offer with the sites of Temple Square, the Tabernacle, Olympic Cauldron Park and much more.

When we reached Salt Lake City, we learned that the Skinwalker Ranch (near the towns of Roosevelt and Vernal in the Uintah Basin was 2 hours or 2 ½ hours away on Highway 40. When I got this news, I almost fainted. I already drove forever into eternity with Lisa helping me to drive. The weather didn't look good, there is lightning everywhere. It’s now midnight, I feel the fatigue setting in. I ask my investigators if they are ready to get a hotel and try again tomorrow. Lisa says if the Sci Fi Channel’s Destination Truth paranormal team can endure the hardships that they do in various jungles, swamps in the world to seek out the truth, then we can endure the hard rains of Utah. I looked at Chantal and say: “Do you feel the same way Chantal?” Chantal: “Yes, Paul, we came too far to stop now.” I look at Lisa and Chantal and said they are both heroic paranormal pioneer scouts that have the courage and heart of a tiger. So be it, let’s get back into The Rift and trek ahead for our destination.

For California paranormal investigators, if you plan to investigate the Skinwalker Ranch, I suggest you drive first to Salt Lake City, get a hotel, rest up and then in the morning head over to Skinwalker Ranch, do not attempt to drive all the way to the Skinwalker Ranch. In fact Utah even has signs indicating they do not want fatigued drivers on their freeways.

The thunderstorm became intense, but I kept driving, there was times when I was driving at 5 mph. The music stopped, everyone was concentrating. You could cut the tension inside my car with a knife. Lisa looked petrified and terrified, Chantal no longer had a smile on her face. I asked, should I go back? Chantal and Lisa in unison….”no”. Driving through a thunderstorm through canyon roads was extremely dangerous and treacherous, many people have lost their lives on their way to the Uintah Basin at night (according to locals). The drive seemed to go on forever, my head was spinning with thoughts of disaster. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Even though the rain was beating down upon The Rift, everything seemed unusually silent and surreal, it was like we were experiencing the Oz Factor. I could see the fright in the eyes of Chantal and Lisa. I can’t describe how terrifying the drive became, but there was no way of going back now, we had to move forward. I remember Shannon ‘Ms. Macabre’ McCabe’s call earlier this morning and how she was wishing us luck on this investigation. I remember Shannon’s laughter as I called her Dana Scully and she called me Fox Mulder. Shannon and I, always communicate on the cell phone and I always brief her about my unusual investigations. I have been on some treacherous investigations, but this must have been the worse and remembering the calming effect of Shannon’s laughter on the cell phone brought me back to normalcy. I trekked on, I asked the spiritual entities that look over my life to be with me and get me to my destination in safety.

Finally, we reach the Uintah Basin, we all clap in unison. We have made it and we were in all in one piece. We all just sat inside the car for a long while in silence, perhaps all of us were saying silent prayers. After the silence, we did the next hardest thing, getting Chantal’s gigantic tent up. Her tent is called ‘3 Room Cottage Cabin’. As the three of us are placing this tent up, we are all falling in the mud. At one point of time, I fall into the mud face down. I was wondering…does Destination Truth ever experience what we were experiencing, I fantasized about a 5-Star Hotel in Tahiti. It took about an hour to get the tent up in the hard rains of Utah.

We had a meeting inside the tent, we would all pull shifts watching the night skies. I would take the first shift. The ‘observer’ of the team would be equipped with a whistle. If we were to see anything unusual, the observer blows the whistle to awaken the rest of the team.

Equipment being used for this investigation: Digital Video Camera (borrowed from Shannon McCabe). Only used Shannon’s camera the next day. I decided not to use it this evening because of the rain. Regular 35 mm camera. Digital camera. Digital Audio Recorder. Binoculars. Laser pin lights (for signal communication to UFOs), 2 high powered flashlights (for setting up base camp and signal communication to UFOs).

During this night, we didn’t sleep well, 15 minutes of sleep here, 15 minutes of sleep there. During one point of the evening, we all hear an unusual animal cry, it was like a loud screeching sound and then ends with ‘wup, wup’. We heard the sound two times, the sound of... eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... wup, wup. I would love to consult with a zoologist and see if the zoologist is able to identify this animal sound. Listening to my recorder, it only picked up the sound of hard rain. The unusual animal sounds were heard at 3:24am. At 4:12am, Chantal was on watch, I was up and about again and we both saw a lightning explosion that later turned into the shape of a large ball, the first words out of my mouth was…”what the f?” I grabbed Chantal’s whistle and blew it and Lisa came out, the lightning explosion was no longer visible.

It was an incredible sight. I can see how perhaps the Ute Indians may see this as a portal. I believe that I witnessed ‘ball lightning’, a phenomenon that probably can be seen in states with severe weather patterns like Texas and Louisiana. It came out of nowhere and there was no way I was able to photograph this spectacular display of natural electricity.

With the thunderstorm continuing, clouds in the sky, this would be a poor night to observe paranormal phenomenon, but the ball lightning and the strange animal sound was very enticing and I wanted to go with another investigation the next evening. When the sun started to rise, Lisa came out of the tent sneezing and coughing. The storm caused her to become deathly ill. I knew I had to get Lisa and Chantal home. Lisa’s children called on my cell and were concerned about the bug she caught and did not want to see their mother catch pneumonia. I looked at Lisa and Chantal and said... ”let’s pack it up and head back to California, we did our best.”

We all walked into Denny’s Restaurant caked with mud. All of the locals stared at us. We looked like Rob Zombie’s Devils Rejects as we walked towards the bathrooms to clean up and change out of our muddy clothes. We came out of the restrooms refreshed and I smiled at the waitress and said... ”have a nice day.”

As we were driving through Salt Lake City, Chantal tells me to stop at the Great Salt Lake. Both Chantal and Lisa run to the water’s edge, they touch the water, they touch the salt, they say a few prayers. I later learn that they both had a spiritual experience at the Uintah Basin. They both felt an enlightening, a spiritual awareness, they both feel more in tune with their families and friends. They both felt compelled to touch the water and the healing salts of the Great Salt Lake. They asked me what I felt. I told them, I felt I needed another adventure, I didn’t get the spiritual awakening that they did.

The area of the lake we went to we saw an unusual building. The building was used in a 1962 movie called Carnival of Souls. I even met a tourist from Michigan that said he will check out the HPI branch office in Michigan. We all got back into the The Rift and headed on 80 West to California. I jammed up ‘Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival’.

Chantal was still looking for the serial killer stationwagon. The cell phone rings twice. The first call is Christine B of KFOK – Georgetown Radio Show ‘World of the Paranormal’, she asks how we are doing, I tell her we all survived. Christine and I did a radio show on the way up to Skinwalker Ranch and she was able to talk to me, Chantal & Lisa. Christine said the radio show was a blast as we discussed many details of the Skinwalker Ranch. The second call was from Dana Scully aka Shannon McCabe. Shannon was relieved we all survived this paranormal ordeal, she asked how much further we had to go, I say.. ”oh... we are merely 245 miles from Reno.” Shannon says... ”dear god, how do you do it Paul?” I answer: “My curiosity is too great Shan, I need to know... the truth.”

There was one phone call I was hoping would come and didn’t. Last week, I was offered by Cartoon Network to be the technical consultant for their upcoming pilot ‘After School Paranormal’, two producers for this pilot are involved with Sci Fi Channel’s Destination Truth. The call to confirm that I would do the pilot did not come, so I am left on pins and needles. Zig... if you read this, call me and let me know one way or another, thanks man.

Note: Somewhere in the Utah landscape, I hid some items that were given to me by a woman that claims she can perform out-of-body projection and remote viewing. The items she had me hide in the Utah landscape are items that she is attached to. She feels she can describe the landscape, because either she will remote view the landscape or actually astral project herself to the location. I will be eager to hear from her, as she will attempt to describe the landscape. I took pictures of the landscape to compare with her description.

Skinwalker Ranch is behind me now... but, there will be more investigations and I will be ready.

Article Copyright© Paul Dale Roberts - reproduced with permission.

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