It pays to have pilot friends.
After reading my Nessie column last week writer, photographer and pilot extraordinaire M.K. passed on a news tip: Pend Oreille has one. A monster, that is.
To be fair, he didn�t exactly say �monster.� But he did send me a link to a 2015 article by nationally renowned mystery-enthusiast Nick Redfern about �Paddler,� Lake Pend Oreille�s resident mystery beast. And M.K. did joke that he�s looked for it, but never seen it.
At least, he doesn�t think so.
Beast-like sightings in Sandpoint�s 1,150-foot-deep lake have occurred sporadically since the 1940s. The first sighting was allegedly by someone at the Navy�s Farragut Training Station (later denied).
According to Redfern, in 1985 a woman named Julie Green and her friends were several hundred feet away when they saw �something huge and fantastic. It was a large, gray-colored thing which raced across the lake, seemingly partially above and below the surface of the water.�
More such sightings followed in the 1990s. On March 29, 2007, The River Journal photographer Jay Mock captured a dark blob surfacing above the water. You can see the photo and read about possible explanations at https://bit.ly/2mcgWIi, and many other cryptozoological sites.
The obvious explanation is Farragut�s submarine station, sited at Pend Oreille since 1942, a location chosen by Eleanor Roosevelt. With secret (and not-so-secret) government submarine activity going on in North Idaho�s giant, sea-like lake, Paddler�s probably a big submarine skimming the surface, no matter what the Navy says, right?
Maybe so, even if it doesn�t always behave very machine-like, according to witness descriptions.
Or maybe it�s a prehistoric creature who somehow survived the ages. Or a giant eel or family of giant eels � the latest scientific explanation of the Loch Ness monster(s).
Maybe Nessie sprouted wings and emigrated, pterodactyl style.
Whatever Paddler may be, I�d think twice before swimming far from shore.
Today�s weird word � which some call a pseudoscience � is cryptozoology: The study of, and search for, legendary animals.
Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who�s well and truly done with sea monsters. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.