CoyWolf Entertainment™ Presents
Walk the Burn: A Beaver, Minnesota Ghost Town Documentary & True Crime Story
Written and Photographed by #1 International Bestselling and Award-Winning Author, Photographer and Illustrator Lisa Loucks-Christenson
Publisher: CoyWolf Entertainment™
Release January 1, 2022
This sales page is for the print book. If you want to purchase the ebook go to:
Print copies sold at stores carrying the Lisa Loucks-Christenson Product Line.
WALK THE BURN BLURB (subject to change)
Nothing bad happened to me the first week of WALK THE BURN, just a guy following and watching me heading out from my day at the eagle nest. While he eyed me stepping out of the grasslands and walking through the open woods I noticed the dead stare he wore on his face as he studied me from his position––partially hidden between the branches. As I walked closer to him I took his photo from my camera pressed against my hip.
He remained about fifty feet away––sizing me up. The valley didn't have cell coverage so I knew to be safe I had to get to my truck. He stood there––watching. From the safety of my truck I looked up and with my keen eyesight––I memorized his plate.
It turns out, per a Minnesota State Trooper, he was a pot farmer, known in the area to law enforcement for his farms. I didn't overstep his boundary that first week: I marched right through it and continued to do so, and beyond it, for the next 15 years.
WALK THE BURN was supposed to be a 30-day documentary showing the changes to the land after a controlled burn, exposing the ground, the ugliness before the beauty is noticeable. This is a story about a regrowth, but also a crime story, ironically, about how it changed me.
––See you on the Journey.
Lisa Lisa Loucks-Christenson is a photojournalist and member of the ASMP and NATJA and shot over one million images while covering her documentaries in the Whitewater Valley in southeastern Minnesota.
Lisa's credits include most major publishers and imprints, news outlets, magazines, trade and her own publishing houses: Esquire, Woman's World, Self, Harcourt, Diversion, Career World, HSUS Kind News, Disney, Pearson, IBM, Christian Schools International, Travel World Magazine, Trips & Journeys, NBC KTTC-TV, KAAL-TV Channel 6 News, KIMT Channel 3 News, WEAU Channel 13 News Eau Claire, Post-Bulletin, Ron Schara's Minnesota Bound and more.
Since 2006, Lisa's hosted a radio broadcasts, live and pre-recorded shows, including her own podcasts syndicated on iTunes, Bluebrry, and various sites. Lisa interviews celebrities and entertainers that include: authors, entertainers, detectives, celebrities. Some of her featured guests include: Aaron Neville, Foghat, Captain and Tennille, Charlie Daniels, Porter Wagoner, Tom Wilson (Ziggy), Veggie Tales, Beverley Swerling, B.J. Daniels, Jean Craighead George, Dick and Dee Dee, Jim Owen, Brian White, Richie Mcdonald, Ray Stevens, and many others.
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS NOTES FOR MY UPCOMING BOOKS. I'm not sure if I'll use any of these notes, or stories, and if I do, which books I'll use them in.
EAGLE NEST SITE INCIDENT: (this full story will be in a future title)
My back window of my truck while I was at one of my eagle nest site.
RAZOR BLADE MAN OR WOMAN? BOTH? (Chapter title subject to change)
I came out of the woods and noticed someone had cut into the letters I'd applied on my back window. The letters no longer spelled out my website LISALC.COM, one of a few websites I ran that kept getting hacked.
Over time, I'd hired computer forensic experts, white hat hackers, security teams, private investigators, and others. The first year I spent thousands, close to $50K in services for people who dually, protected me on my WALK THE BURN and LISA'S BALD EAGLE DOCUMENTARY, but those fees were just the starting fees.
Add to these costs: all new computers, phones, devices, networks, firewalls, switches; one computer for each program to eliminate the possibility there was any software issues, several computers for each location. I worked with eight computers at a time to do my work. I racked up thousands of dollars in expenses each month. The Rochester Police referred me to Rochester FBI, they referred me to Minneapolis, and eventually the Secret Service, back to the police, back to the Rochester FBI, followed up by Minneapolis FBI. What a chapter of my life that was. Still is.
None of them understood networks or hacking. Most of them told me so, often sharing I knew more about networks and the internet than they did. I lost them at 192.168.0.1 and I never even addressed the social engineering attacks, my direct inward dial numbers ( DID lines) that Century Link kept a sharp eye on. Calling me and telling me when someone was trying to add new services to my business lines.
Later, I'd find out, after years, the Ben I'd been talking to at Century Link Law Enforcement, never existed, the email was not their company email, and Ben had a lot of my life in his clutches. It's unnerving, but it's nothing compared to the illegal wire taps we found at four locations. That and I had something Ben forgot. A couple emails from him that I could trace right to his house. Finally, I'd arrived. I didn't have to have the police tell me the attacks could be coming from anywhere, they had no way to trace them. Jesus opened my eyes. Hello, Ben. Hope you find this.
I started a book about him. It's on Amazon, unpublished, released, and then I and pulled it. It's called FINDING BEN. I'm expecting Ben will try and secure his copy. I've put safeguards in place should he try.
Computer security experts will laugh as I attempt to protect our family, work network, and my clients' data while I learn from the ground up about computer forensics, data recovery, back doors, scripts written to affect my work only and delete my photos, and then find a way to reverse it. I became adept at seeing patterns, knowing how people would use my sites, how things were changed and how they did it. I had to learn coding, interception, firewalls, Linux, Windows, Mac's and more. I had sites up with a simple HTML page and redirects, subdomains, and other things I put in place to catch the crooks. I had to understand network traffic, change passwords hourly, keep my spouse and family out of everything––they are the first ones that will be accused, if you didn't know.
If you are from the UK or Canada, you'll want to skip the story on David and Dominic and I really want to list their company and their resumes and their scheme. What would be the point? It's proprietary information now. They conned me, they knew my paths on WALK THE BURN and LISA's BALD EAGLE DOCUMENTARY. Sorry, Canada and UK Military, you've got a couple rats. Hi David, Hi Dominic. I know your training is now below mine.
That chapter will bring shame to your countries and to your citizens, I can't help this, I'm simply reporting what took place.. Taking advantage of my situation. Your own police and military did this to me. Canadian Police and British Military VS. Rochester, Minnesota police, USA.
RPD hold the cards––not the one David and Dominic stole. The one containing my families photos, dog photos they wanted, and 30K images from WALK THE BURN AND LISA'S BALD EAGLE DOCUMENTARY. Even Bill Gates used to offer a buck an image, when I was shooting stock images.
Dominic, thank you so kindly for leaving not only your fingerprints on the CDs, but also the handwritten note you attached on a Post-it note. It's proof of more things that connect to the other party we discussed regarding "France". If you think, even for a second I wasn't listening to every word you shared. Guess again.
I'm thinking of putting your note in a "shadow frame" what do you think? Is red your color? Maybe just the matte should be red. Do you like museum glass or is a cheap non-glare more your style? :)
David, I'm thinking about buying you a mosquito netting hat, and a Nordic Track to get yourself back into shape. You said you could't do the walk and sent Dominic out there with me, while you sat in the truck I rented you, relaxing on the money I paid you to work. I'd never hire you again. I personally, willingly, without any paid endorsement love my nordic track, you probably remember it while you sat at my table, in that house, the one you forgot to scan, the one you didn't do anything to secure the property.
Like the first fires in my life, I had to learn and understand something I wasn't trained for. I'd already exhausted every area security team, flew teams in and no one could stop my hacker(s). No one.
The last time I checked with Century Link, I had three million attackers hitting my network at my house from China. They used seven gigabytes of data, and I didn't know what to say.
I asked Century Link if I could quote those numbers and if they'd back me and show that I was getting that many hits. Those impressive numbers could drive up sales if I wanted to charge for advertising. I don't sell ads, so I'm adding that tongue-in-cheek, but I had my proof of page views, in case anyone doubted.
As this unfolded, if I didn't wisen up, I was going to keep spending more. They hacked my major accounts, took over my new cell phone, sent anonymous letters, and more. It seemed like at each level, the more I figured out and understood, the more social engineering attacks I'd face. Strange men coming into my stores asking if I understood what I knew. How could I understand this? Did I know what this meant in terms of hitting the grid, did I know what this meant locally? This led to more questions. Who was I? I own a 35-year-old communications company and publishing business, and studios. Of course I'm a target.
Do you think when someone takes out the communications, say the Rochester, Police, twice in as many years––but I told them that was going to happen if what they shared with me and they didn't really have anyone, and it finally did. 911 calls were knocked out for hours.
You can search it online. I'm not interested in a contract helping them when they threw me into the snake pit, but I was only bit four times.
I can't share the answers for the hackers attacks, I won't talk about 99.9 percent of the other details. I know, in part, the truth. That puts me in a bad place. Knowing what I shouldn't. The way I look at it, when law enforcement looks the other way––every time, I had no choice but to stand on my own and lean on Jesus. He's my secret agent. My counselor, my ever-present protector.
By summer 2005 the winds changed and with them, the sudden appearance of a single Federal Reserve casings, Water Devils, followed by multiple bullet shells and casings of diferent guns, 22s, 45s, others, placed, dead center in front of or in place of the plant, subject or item(s) I was documenting, daily in the WALK THE BURN area––to show how they changed over time. I'd find boxes that were shot through just feet from me, while I was at the eagle nest. Maybe that's how I got hit. I'm not sure. I just know I went home one day, a little holier than the others, two holes in my arm, and matching holes in my blaze orange jacket. So much for wearing color---when your hunter is color blind and a devil in disguise.
My police reports I filed went no where. I felt like the incidents made a good comedy, and were read only once because no law enforcement officer wanted to read them again. Or stop the hecklers. End the stalking. Make them quit the endless harassment and stalking. I'd call this a form of gaslighting, things that happened trying to make me look crazy, paranoid. A shaved break line, a bolt missing off my engine, 3 lug nuts on my driver's side tire, razor blades in my tires, all the lights being turned on––including the glove box, mirror, the dome lights. The letters cut into as pictured above.
One day, a couple brothers playing me, got caught. I chased them right of the woods when I heard their radio go off signaling their exact location. Pusses that they were, they ran. They may have held the guns, but even low on oxygen, I could give them a good run––usually back to their hideout.
With no hopes of solving the Rochester issues, I took a new road and detour in my life. I went to Whitewater. I walked all those years to get away from the hacking and threats I had to deal with when I returned to Rochester.
I knew it wouldn't take long for trouble to find me in Whitewater, just like the dispatcher predicted. It did, however, eliminate a way to follow me everywhere or hack my thoughts––and without cell coverage––reach me at all while I walked through God's country.
I spread myself across a thirteen mile beat, changing my patterns, times of day, vehicles, sometimes parking in one area, hiking two miles in another direction. The men who stopped me, all went on my suspect list.
Even the one who stopped and called me a "F#$%*(@ stuck up B(#@#! He couldn't have known the trouble I was having, why I had to disassociate from everyone, that hadn't proven they were allies.
I'd arrived in the Whitewater Valley, finally, in a place where God could use me. I joke, that God assigned my ring tone and every law enforcement agency from New Mexico to New York, to Washington D.C., and finally Alaska (the answer state and two of their state troopers know why I call it that), knew my beat.
They knew when I called before the rings started, but they never even considering that it was He who sent me right into their jurisdictions, along with my piles of injustices I found in the dead animals that laid their slain, killed, run into, shot illegally, trapped unfairly, poached the "activities" the people shooting right by me. I still have scars on my arm that I'll wear forever from being hit by something that punctured my coat and my arm. Scars don't lie and I have a snake bite scar on my other arm, bit while I was crossing over to the Pink Flamingo, not a casino with flashing lights, pull tabs and slots. A plastic one, stuck as a road mark on to their trail. My goodness, couldn't anyone find their way out in those woods without marks, ties? I didn't use any devices, compasses, gps. I walked anywhere. I paid attention. I found their cables than ran over the river, it was easier that way, the ATV trails were the proof of their activities. The gun shots, as I walked closer. I walked right into their game, just to get a few shots of my own. They never knew I was there.
God knows my paths. He put me here to be a part of life and with that journey I have free will to do anything I want. I've found that by trusting Him, my life makes a lot more sense, even in the fires. He walked me right through them, just like he did others and will continue to walk beside us all--if we ask for His help. That's my faith. I believe He shows me when to be still. When to speak. When to listen. When to keep hiking. Where to find stories that will help others and bring justice to the wildlife who lost their lives, including two mourning doves I named, Liberty and Justice, and when to share the stories. This is one of them.
The thought crossed my mind, but only for a millisecond, that whoever did this was the same person that wedged their razor blades deep into my back tires during another incident. I'd heard the clicking all the way home, for 45 miles, but it was dark and I couldn't check the noise out until I got back to my studio. I'd heard the clicking when I left the WALK THE BURN area, but I didn't recall hearing it when I left Rochester or anywhere on the way down to Whitewater.
The razor blades incident took place a few miles north, from the letter cuttings, that happened on my brand new truck at my WALK THE BURN documentary site. For my own safety, I drove different trucks, came at different times of the day, parked in various areas. My new truck didn't come with razor blades. Rochester Police have that report. Winona County has that report. I remember the responding officers.
The sliced letters offered no clues. One report sat as paper, two reports made them, pun intended, paper weights.
MY DOG TEAM:
God equipped me with eight different dogs while covering my journey, five were mine. Two were just along for the ride, not field dogs. Two were trained protection dogs.
Dale Bernard Von Smaragd Huegel is pictured above, he was my main field dog, also a trained German Shepherd protection dog.
This is Dani and me, Dale's sister. Dani Bernadette Von Smaragd Huegel knew people's intentions before they moved. That was her champion bloodlines and she never failed me. You can read how she protected me, laying her body across me, her face in front of mine barring teeth and giving warning barks at the a man in the Dorer Pools (not the Minnesota State Trooper who appeared twice and suspiciously, both times, one I hope never FINDS me again and appears out of nowhere, behind me, always behind me.)
This was an older white guy. He sneaked up on me while I was sitting in my truck with my door open while I making notes on my documentary. The story is suspicious and interesting. CHAPTER: Men in the Brown Van.
STORIES FROM THE WHITEWATER VALLEY SERIES™
WALK THE BURN: A BEAVER, MINNESOTA GHOST TOWN DOCUMENTARY & TRUE CRIME STORY, Book 1
WINTER BUGS: EXHIBIT EDITION, Book 2
HAPLESS HARRY: THE MINNESOTA MUSCOVY DUCK DOCUMENTARY, BOOK 3
TEN FEET UNDER THE CANARY GRASS, Book 4
STRUGGLING FOR EXISTENCE: WHAT NATURE SHARED, Book 5
2005, YEAR ONE DAEDEE & DANCER: THE EAGLE NEST COFFEE BAR & CAFE, Lisa's Bald Eagle Documentary™
When I'm writing I like listening to different songs, while compiling this book, I kept going back to one of my favorite Christian bands, Barlow Girl. I love almost every song they wrote, but the song below, NEVER ALONE, below really captures how I felt on so many of my days while walking through the Whitewater Valley. It gives a voice to how I felt through the years while dealing with family deaths that didn't seem to end, my own health emergencies (sepses twice, kidney stone emergencies, four years on oxygen), my husband's cancer and infection that almost killed him, harassment, stalking, hacking, finding dead animals, seeing live animals still struggling in traps––caught days before, happy to chew their foot off and run on three feet––if it meant they could live.
I couldn't help them. It was illegal. I crossed the line only once. The trap had no ID, no name, no phone, and no one was checking it. They were illegally trapping. I saw the fear in the tiny raccoons' face. I didn't touch the trap. I merely stuck a stick into its jaws. The coon was smart enough to know how to pull her foot free, but she'd been chewing it off, so it didn't slip out easily as she tried to escape.
That must have been the ONLY time a sheriff passed the raccoons' way in at least a few days. That or he had bad eye sight because no human could watch a raccoon in that state and leave it suffering like that.
He told me to step aside, though I would have taken that shot to see her live.
No one claimed her. I stopped every day. I documented the raccoon laying there for about a month. I refused to see this as a life wasted, so I included her story in another book, hoping to open other trappers and people's eyes to ethical trapping.
During the course of over 15 years in the valley, I found there were many animals out there in that same situation, I bet they felt alone too, watching their mom or dad get poached, illegally baited and shot, beheaded for a crown of antlers, licking a salt block, driving the animals into the hunt. Some of those animals are still alive, and new life has arrived. The wildlife remains: helpless, unprotected and unfairly hunted in your counties.
FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: although I don't believe I can ever trust any of you again, I do appreciate that you still show up, occasionally, and respond, sometimes, to 911 calls, or emergency alarms, incidents (like the homeless guy that came in on me last fall trying to break my back window with his body, then tried to push me into the backroom.
CONSERVATION OFFICERS First, I don't appreciate how you tried tricking me about your Millville situation though I must just be stupid to you, I wish you'd know how I felt about both of you that day. Where were you when the fake officer detained me? It took many years for me to find the truth.
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I FOUND THE METH CAVE? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN INCIDENTS FOLLOWED? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I FOUND THE TAMPONS, THE SALT BLOCKS, THE ILLEGAL TRAPS? THE BEHEADED BUCKS?
IT TOOK A CONTACT FROM THE DEPT. OF THE INTERIOR TO HELP ME UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MAY OR MAY NOT BE DOING. I'D LIKE TO HEAR IT FROM YOUR SIDE, IF IT'S TRUE.
I'D LIKE YOU TO BRING THE MINNESOTA TROOPER WITH FOR QUESTIONING. HE WILL KNOW ME. THE MISSING EAGLE KNEW HIM TOO. THE ONE I REPORTED TO WINONA, BECAUSE THERE IS NO PROCEDURES THAT ANY OF YOU FOLLOW. LIES. LIARS. DECEIVERS. IF YOU ARE CHRISTIANS, I DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW.
You've left uncertainty in my heart, I can never trust you again. shouldn't have to reach out to Alaska State Troopers to help me, but then, WHERE WERE YOU AGAIN? I SENT MY REPORTS IN.
I CALLED YOUR TIP LINES. I CALLED DIRECT TO THE STATE PATROL
YOUR website doesn't match what you showed me. I found the animals stories, I shot the photos, I had a Minnesota State Trooper that was a serious situation for me, where were you? I needed you that day: it was your job to bring those animals justice. Where were you? I called. I reported. You ignored their cries and my pleas. I'd rather call my mom than your TIP line, I'd get more response talking to a skunk in our woods than I did your offices. What is the big stink? Please let me know, I'll make sure you get complimentary copies of what I went through, what I found. I don't want you to inflate my sales rankings by you buying a copy.Maybe you can learn from this book. Maybe you can train your teams to look and see and when someone is calling, and calling, and calling and I have to go through State Patrol to reach you. Do you think there could be a conflict of interest, when one officer did things to me AND that's not all. Not the State Trooper I hired.
I stumbled upon the remains of animals the poachers didn't need, I documented the rows of tampons hanging down the trails and tree branches––and as a woman––I can't imagine putting yourself out there like that.
I found the gut piles and the bears that followed. I found the dead cougar, thrown in a heap with a dead dog, and coyotes––after a man stopped on HWY 74N, blocking me in, trying to lure me to that area. I have his plate too.
I found the burned out tree full of dead song birds in Trout Valley. I followed the monarch migration (not every day was bad). My instincts led me to the top of bluffs, to the woods, the grasslands, the back oxbows, through rivers, quicksand, and mud that sucked me down into the earth trying to steal my soul.
One time, I felt pulled into an area. I knew something was wrong there--I felt it. So I hiked up to the top of the bluff and I said, "OK God, what am I supposed to be seeing."
I looked down and saw a scene that made the made my stomach convulse, the tears fell easily.
I reported it to Winona County. I was told, "Lisa, people gotta eat ya know."
I replied,"Then maybe they should have taken their bodies!" I was crying looking at all the piles of dead bucks, some in black garbage bags, none had heads; tossed in and mixed with children's toys, appliances, strollers and junk.
That was the day I volunteered to be their voice.
WALK THE BURN: A BEAVER, MINNESOTA DOCUMENTARY & TRUE CRIME STORY
When I look at my photos from the beginning to the end of my travels to the Whitewater Valley I continue to see the eternal fires––ones that burned their flames into that period of my life. Heat so intense it burned my memories and stirred them up and into the flames of the grease fire my sister and I were caught in as teens.
That fire, like WALK THE BURN controlled burn and the injustices and crime I found, began tossing fire balls out of its paths and back into the pan of grease from my youth so I'd be ready one that prepared for my walk against the fire when the day came.
As teenagers, we had no training or experience that taught us how to fight a grease fire.
The next fire in my life wouldn't even happen for at least another year, when I had to walk into a cornfield fire engulfing my best friends' dog house in her backyard. She was shrieking and calling her dog out, but it wouldn't budge, he remained curled up and cowering inside. I had just seconds to break a thick chain off the dog, because unbuckling the collar would not be possible in the time we had. He was tethered to his death if we didn't face our fears. I didn't get burned that time either, even though flames wrapped my arms they ran back off and onto the dog house and joined the others.
Our house fire was different. Every second counted as the flames flashed across our walls and ran like demons faster than we could stop them. Spreading everywhere, before splitting, dividing into more flames. They claimed our kitchen, and now we were their intruders, or so it seemed. I refused to let fire burn our memories, eat our home. The place we made cookies, did the dishes, made our meals, sat as a family and shared birthday's, holiday's, and stories.
My youngest sister was just a child when she arrived home from school one day and as always, she opened the back door to come inside. I was downstairs. She came in the front door and and sought me out, asking, "Why is our kitchen was on fire?"
I knew we had seconds. Maybe a couple minutes. I was screaming for my older sister. She was on the phone in her bedroom unaware of the fire going on upstairs. After getting my younger siblings outside, our parents away at work, somehow I called the fire department.
Together, my older sister and I kept beating down the flames that were endless, new flames rose out of the ones we defeated. Sparks flying everywhere, spewing tiny fires all across the counters, the walls, burning into the cupboards, one that held our birthday candles and matches and from there it climbed onto the ceiling. And I saw thick black and grey clouds with orange teeth chewing into the ceiling.
The flames licked my arms, they spit at us biting us like horseflies that stung––but only for a second. The flames danced across my arms before jumping onto my sister, burning her.
It's a smell that never leaves your senses. I can still smell smoke burning from the distant memories. I know firemen responded, I don't remember if the police were there. My grandfather arrived with my mom. I've made everything else go black. I don't want to remember the rest so I don't.
I try but I can't block the fire or the look of terror in my sisters' eyes or my younger siblings. I think about what would have happened if I hadn't been there at all. If I was working, or out in the fields exploring nature. God was there.
The day I committed my soul to the WALK THE BURN project, it wasn't because I liked fires: I respected them. I knew their power. I knew how fast they traveled, I knew they made burning friends--that appeared out of nowhere. I knew they could be beat.
When I worked for the Minnesota Conservation Corps, one of our jobs was to do controlled burns in the various parks. Even then I tried to understand those fires, how they burned, how they flashed across the land turning everything black in seconds. I remembered, again, how they tried but lost in their attack on our house, on my friend's dog, but the difference was, we were in control, the fires had no chance to spread beyond the fields we burned.
Sometimes people would yell at us for draining their lakes, for using chain saws to cut down the trees, for burning the land and making it ugly. Only God knew where he was sending me and how those early personal attacks while doing our work, our "walk" in the previous parks, could serve as armor for my the walk ahead.
April 8. 2005, I brought my nephew and daughter down to the Whitewater Valley. They were both hoping to see the sandhill cranes I'd spotted every day for the past week. The weather was sunny, a little cool and a perfect day for exploring nature. My nephew was especially interested in the cranes and I couldn't wait for him to see them up close, stir in his and my daughter's hearts the wonder of nature, it's all we talked about on the drive down. Our family still calls it our Sandhill Crane Journey, one that took us into theirs wings and became code for WALK THE BURN.
As we were ready to leave I saw smoke rising on the other side of the bluff. I followed the road and saw the flames, the crew. I stopped to photograph them as part of our day. As they worked, I couldn't stop looking at the flames.
I was still trying to understand the fire and it's power after all these years. I knew, in time, the land would be green again, full of life, but that charred smell from the burn, would linger on for months, like it did in our house. I explained to the kids what they were doing, why they were doing it, and then an idea sparked. I thought about doing a story on the return of the land and its journey to green again.
I'd already shot the day of the fire. That was day one and I shot a lot of images, so why not continue on, come back every day until the land was lush and colorful again? It would be an easy text-photo package to license.
I pitched the story to my (then) literary agent and also a well known nature magazine, my story about the regrowth of flora and what fauna I found after a controlled burn. The agent didn't want it because it was regional. The magazine was interested and asked me to send it in with my photos at the conclusion of what I thought would be thirty days in the valley, in Beaver, Minnesota.
I didn't know, then, I was just beginning my walk into fifteen years documenting eagles, sandhill cranes, Blanding's turtles, bear, wolves, coyote, deer, Giant Canada geese, Winter Bugs! and more. I'm thankful for the days.
REVISITING MY THOUGHTS AS I WORK ON THE BOOK
When I reflect on my journey in Beaver, Minnesota, the ghost town that still speaks to those that understand her cries of her wilderness and the injustices: animals calling out the hunters that took their lives by trickery, deceit, poaching. They cry to their Father watching the scenes below, from his throne, far above the grey skies.
Fall leaves stirring into streaks of billowing smoke––still rise from the pits of darkness that remain visible to those with eyes –– in the echoes of the unseen ground below.
After all these years have passed, strong as I am, not even I can't blacken out all the pain when revisiting my photos and the truths in them. I can't give a badge or honor to the absences of those that were called to protect and serve, not only humans, but the animals. Calls I repeatedly made from the land, from the valley, from the nearest town when necessary. Calls that were never answered, responded to, and mostly ignored.
There were times they came, a couple even befriended me before tossing me under a bus. I couldn't count on law enforcement, I was mocked, humiliated, laughed at and eventually, I just quit calling, reporting. I wrote my reports to Jesus, crying to him instead.
I look back and it's still all there, my memories, the highs and lows of the journey. A project that would be even more had people not tampered with my cameras, stolen my gear, cut off the flowers, the plants, moved stationary items a foot over just to mess with the details and make that stop void, contaminated by man.
However, if you know where to look, many of my stories I collected remain hidden deep inside the valley, below the clouds of darkness surrounding my outdoor beat.
From what man destroyed, purposely during my days there, I took what was pure and made this book. Though you may not see it, it's stamped with an eternal crown given out of the beauty of the land. It's full of the words of the Lord, ones that were easy to collect because they were the first to be rejected by the men who tromped through my project, taking away the journey I was on, in part.
When I lifted the broken and abandoned words to Heaven, they became whole, pure, and true again––painful as they were to hold, lifting them from the dirt . . . I set them free again into the light. So they will bless another person lost or found and searching for truth.
"I stand, changed, walking ahead and trusting that my knowledge, words, my tears, my broken and beat down trails that I left behind will be enough for another traveler. I have my photos and memories, that's all I'm taking with me. In my dreams I still see the land, Beaver. Minnesota as a fading mirage, still smoldering from the depths of hell in mans' heart. A fire I walked through with an easy yoke and load, transformed and prepared for this time. Every step I walked during those first seven seasons, and thereafter, I walked, seemingly alone in person, but I was always with Jesus."––Lisa Loucks-Christenson/WALK THE BURN
Thank you to the Alaska State Troopers. You know who you are.