local cyclist claims encounter with “chupacabra”
April 24, 2007
Today we interview local cyclist and alleged “ hero,” Rick Sunderlage (not his real name). Last Thursday evening Sunderlage, who lives at Suncrest atop Traverse Ridge, in Draper, UT, stopped in the Corner Canyon area below Lone Peak for a quick mountain bike ride on the way home from work. He planned to climb the new Clarks trail to the Hog Hollow saddle, climb to Jacob’s Ladder, and descend Jacob’s and Ghost Falls down to his vehicle.
Fate had other plans for Sunderlage. A relaxing ride quickly turned into something else—an encounter in a rainstorm with a mythical beast.
Dug—Rick, tell us a little about yourself.
Rick—Well, there’s not much to tell, really. I like to ride bikes.
D—Are you any good?
R—Ask around. I’m kind of a big deal.
D—Ha, ha, okay then. Anyway. Tell us what happened Thursday evening.
R—Sure. So I’m on my way home from work, it’s about 6pm. I’m thinking, I just want to get a quick climb and descent in before dinner, you know, just stretch the legs a bit. I park at the bottom of Clarks, a nice winding, brand new singletrack that climbs from Corner Canyon to the Hog’s Hollow saddle.
D—Are you sure you don’t mean Hog Hollow? I mean, have you actually seen a hog up there? You know that the hogs don’t actually own . . .
D—Yeah, sorry. Anyway. You’re climbing Clarks, in the trees, just enjoying yourself.
R—Right. Just climbing, all alone, no big deal. Suddenly . . .
D—Did you say “suddenly?”
D—Well, seems like you’d have had some warning. Nothing really happens “suddenly.”
R—Seriously, chill. Let me talk.
D—Um. Okay. Sorry. Go ahead. Suddenly, without any warning WHATSOEVER . . .
R—Whatever. Anyway. I see a very large white animal on the trail ahead of me, and I figure it’s a horse, since I’ve spent the last ten minutes dodging nice fresh horse crap all over the trail. But as I get closer, I realize it’s a mountain goat. Now I know you’re going to say, “Mountain goats don’t come down to 5,000 feet, least of all to 5,000 feet a quarter mile from several well-populated neighborhoods.” But don’t you think I was thinking the same thing? Of course I was. I was thinking “No Way, a mountain goat all the way down here? Cool.”
D—That is cool.
R—I just said that.
D—I know, I just wanted to . . .
R—Just let me tell it, okay?
R—No YOU chill.
D—Just tell the story.
R—Shut up. Okay then. So, like I said, mountain goat, right in the trail, like fifteen feet in front of me. It’s huge, and has quite a rack.
R—Dude, grow up.
R—So after we stare at each other for what seems like forever, the goat just turns and walks up the trail. I get back on the bike and start climbing again. About five minutes later, I come around a pretty tight corner, trees all around, and suddenly, and yes, I mean SUDDENLY, I hear very loud snorting and huffing, and something moving very fast. The freaking mountain goat had climbed the trail ahead of me, hidden around a corner, and was ambushing me.
R—Seriously. He’s charging me at a full sprint, head down, huge rack of horns coming right at me. So I jump off the bike and swing it around in front of me and I start yelling like crazy.
D—What did you yell?
D—What did you say when you yelled?
R—Really, just shut up and let me talk.
R—So the goat runs right up to me, and actually runs into my Gary Fisher Rig, which I’m holding between us. I’m thinking I’m dead, that my only hope is the goat gets his horns tangled in my bike and I can get away. But as soon as he hits my bike, he stops, and just stares at me. After I yell some more, he gives me a long stare and then takes off into the scrub oak and I can see him circling around behind me.
D—Like he’s stalking you?
R—Right, he’s following me. I get back on my bike and just keep climbing. And by now, it’s raining like crazy, so I can’t see or hear that well. I feel like I’m being stalked by the damned Chupacabra.
D—Really? The Chupacabra?
R—Yeah. You know, the goat sucker.
D—Oh, I know what the Chupacabra is.
R—Anyway, the Chupacabra is after me. I get to the saddle, and decide, maybe it’s best not to head to Jacobs and Ghost Falls, so I just turn and take a good long look around to see if the goat is still after me, and I head down. I never saw him during the entire descent, but I fully expected him to jump out from around every corner and knock me off my bike and trample me.
D—You know the Chupacabra isn’t real, right?
R—All right, that’s it, we’re done.