The other mysterious valley

Column by Hal Walter

UFOs – February 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Some years ago, when my wife and I were looking for a new home after selling our old house in Wetmore, we had our eyes on a smallish A-frame log house near Rosita.

Among the palatial amenities was a fairly expansive view of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The agent told us that the last person to look at the house had given her a business card identifying him as a “UFO investigator.” She said he was interested in the place because he would be able to watch UFOs cruise from his living room.

It’s interesting that both a free-lance writer and a UFO investigator, both professionally refusing to deal in what most folks consider to be reality, would be considering the same abode. We both wanted to ranch the view.

Things haven’t gotten any more normal around here. So when the book Mysterious Valley came out detailing strangeness on the other side of the range, I was interested. Skeptical, of course, but interested. If even one-tenth of one percent of what’s in that book is for real, there’s something bizarre going on.

Whenever the subject of the paranormal comes up, there are always two camps. There are the believers, some of whom claim to see “ships” as often as most folks see Home Improvement reruns. And there are the people who think the believers should be locked up at the University of Pueblo.

There’s no in-between. It’s a difficult fence to straddle if you want to look at paranormal happenings in an objective way, with no preconceived notions.

Either way, it’s hard to keep an open mind. It’s easiest to dismiss the whole thing with the attitude that people who see this stuff just badly need something to believe in. On the other hand, if you actually see something yourself, it’s difficult to not run amuck the same berserk way in which some of my new-age friends remind me starkly of fundamentalist Christians.

Recently I had a memory resurface. I was probably seven or eight, and playing outside in the front yard one evening with my sister and some neighborhood kids. From up in the sky, what I remember as an office building descended and hovered across the street above us. There were windows in this building and I could see people working inside. It’s pretty easy to dismiss this as a childhood illusion — I’m old enough now to know that office buildings don’t fly.

I have a part-time job on the copy desk at the newspaper in Pueblo, and it guarantees that I have some late-night adventures on Colorado Highway 96 between the newspaper and my home. Most involve weirdness of the decidedly terrestrial and drunken variety, but once I saw something else. I was just rolling up to the curve in the highway before the little hamlet of Wetmore when I saw an incredibly bright, intensely white, light against the foothills west of the junction of the two highways. It was so odd and out of place that I actually pulled over to the side of the road for a better look.

My first assumption was that it was a halogen-headlamped vehicle descending a four-wheel-drive road that I knew to be in that area. But it only had one light and it sure was bright. And it really wasn’t quite where I figured the road to be. I got out of the truck and watched for a while. No sound.

The light seemed to dip and then travel sideways. I’d been warned that editing too much bad newspaper copy can do things like this to your brain, so I got back in my truck and drove on through teeming downtown Wetmore, which is tucked in the gulch along Hardscrabble Creek. When I came out on the other side of the draw, and drew parallel with the little range, I could see the light again. It didn’t look to be on the ground.

You can dismiss a plane right off, because at that slow rate of travel a plane would drop out of the sky. Most helicopters have flashing tail lights. If it was someone flying a helicopter and spotlighting something on the ground, the spotlight would have been pointing the other way. Clearly I saw a UFO, but the “F” doesn’t necessarily stand for “flying.”

It just didn’t make any sense.

Of course, none of this makes any sense. Think about it. If it was an extra-terrestrial UFO, why would there be a light anyway? If extra terrestrials can find their way to Earth through the black hole of space, why do they need strobes to jacklight cows and abduct honkies? Even us mere civilian humans can get our hands on pretty decent night-vision gadgetry.

If we’re ahead of the extra-terrestrials on night-vision technology, why don’t the aliens just call Cabela’s and order their own night-vision goggles? Then they could turn off the lights on their spaceships and quit scaring the bejesus out of us earthlings.

A friend who was a deputy sheriff in Custer County some time ago tells a strange story. He was called out to the Rosita area one cold winter night to investigate some strange lights. He went there and saw nothing. But on the way home, on the now-closed Querida Road, he was just driving along when the vehicle — engine, lights, radio — went dead.

After trying to restart the thing he hiked to the highway where he says he was met by another officer who had been sent out after the office lost radio contact. They decided to call it a night and retrieve the vehicle the next morning.

Of course, when he returned the car started just fine. Go figure. I might add that this person remains skeptical about paranormal happenings, despite this experience.

In the mid-1980s, on a late-night return from some obscure but sober journalistic mission, I saw something rather strange just south of Florence, near where the new federal prison now stands. Just off the shoulder on the west side of the highway was an old woman, dressed in rags, and holding a sack.

I immediately slowed down to see if she needed help. But something about the old woman’s eyes — which seemed to be looking right through me — caused me to jam my right foot right through the carburetor and keep it there until I got home. Probably just some old woman scavenging aluminum out in the middle of nowhere, but the memory still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

The television show Sightings recently did an exposé on the Wet Mountain and San Luis valleys. One thought was that the need for MOA flyovers had something to do with paranormal happenings in the valley rather than training for worldly military crises.

Could be.

One autumn day in 1995, while unloading firewood from my truck in front of my house before dusk, I heard a loud roaring noise that caused me to duck instinctively. The noise screamed across the sky northeast to southwest like some sort of huge rocket. The roar was so loud I seriously considered kissing my own butt goodbye. Instead I looked up to greet the end of the world and saw absolutely nothing in the sky. Later that night people in Colorado Springs called the police to report strange lights and sounds. Those reports were dismissed as a meteor.

This sort of strangeness just feeds on itself, and the stories abound. I’ve heard repeatedly about hovering lights, strange black helicopters, cattle mutilations and — get this — a 20-year-old spine-tingler about a strange cone-headed woman with an outlandish backpack who, when spotted on a mountain trail, ran away at high speed and scaled a sheer cliff like it was a flight of stairs.

I won’t even pretend to know what’s going on around here. But I’ll say the same thing I said about the other Mysterious Valley. If even one-tenth of one percent of this stuff is for real, it’s something pretty bizarre.

Free-lance writer Hal Walter — who gets his e-mail from outer space at — often wonders if extraterrestrials are visiting the Wet Mountain Valley to probe the minds of developers for ideas about subdividing uninhabited planets.