Hartley: On the trail of Colorado’s cunning cryptids

There’s a program on Animal Planet called “Finding Bigfoot” that really ought to be called “Looking for Bigfoot” for reasons that need no explanation. Regardless, Sasquatch has become so famous that he now has his own reality show despite the idea that he actually might not be real. Likewise, a million people visit Loch Ness each year to see if they can catch a glimpse of the aquatic monster that purportedly lurks in its depths. Of course, none of them ever see anything, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Real or not, Nessie is a bona fide celebrity.

Sasquatch and Nessie are the two most famous examples of what we smart people call cryptids, but there are plenty of others: the yeti, the chupacabra, the Jersey devil, Champ — the list goes on and on. And if there’s a monster, you can bet there’s someone hard at work looking for it and trying to score his or her own reality show.

Now regular readers of this column know I love imaginary creatures, and I want my own reality show as much as anybody; it would seem that hunting for monsters would be a perfect fit, right? Unfortunately, it’s gotten so crowded in the field of cryptozoology that it’s become exceedingly difficult for me to find a monster of my own. I refuse to share one with someone else.

If you want to stand out from the crowd in this business instead of being just another idiot screeching in the woods or standing by a lake with your binoculars, you’ve got to look around a bit. So it was that my wife, son, two dogs and I recently journeyed to the town of Alice to search for the most obscure cryptid on the planet: Lomie, the monster of Loch Lomond.

I want my own reality show as much as anybody; it would seem that hunting for monsters would be a perfect fit, right?

Just so you know, Lomie is not to be confused with the giant crocodile rumored to be swimming around the more famous Loch Lomond, the largest lake in Great Britain. Colorado’s Loch Lomond is considerably smaller and sits at 11,000 feet above sea level, at the edge of the remote James Peak Wilderness. Odds are that Lomie’s not an alligator.

Our base camp for the expedition was a cozy, two-bedroom cabin belonging to some friends from Boulder who came with their dogs to join us on our quest. The cabin was very charming, and it sat on a rocky, forested hillside with nary a blade of grass on the property. I point this out because the California bank from which our friends purchased the cabin paid someone to mow the lawn each week and that someone actually took the money. I love that so much I’m at a loss for words.

We did a training hike on St. Mary’s Glacier the first day, and everything checked out, so the next day we set off early to hike into the heart of Lomie’s domain.

Our first stop was a high point on a ridge overlooking the Fall River Valley. Windswept and barren, the ridge afforded us a strategic overview of Loch Lomond and the surrounding terrain. It was also the site of an unnatural pile of rocks said to be Lomie’s vacation home.

The pile of rocks turned out to be a large, manmade windbreak with an old mailbox that I’m going to assume doesn’t receive deliveries anymore. We didn’t find any cryptids, but there was a sign that read, “Beware of Lomie, the Loch Lomond monster.” I considered that to be indisputable evidence of the creature’s existence.

We left the ridge and tried to hike directly to the lake, but supernatural forces — by which I mean shrubs — conspired to block our path. Then we saw a weathered marmot skull that had been placed on a very visible rock. Something clearly didn’t want us to reach that lake, but we were determined. We backtracked until we found a proper trail and ultimately reached the chilly waters of Loch Lomond.

Alas, Lomie once again was a no-show. There very well could have been a monster in the lake, however. I saw nothing to make me think otherwise, and I wouldn’t be a very good cryptozoologist if I dismissed something based on a complete lack of physical evidence.

So, does Lomie truly exist? That’s a tough question. We didn’t see a monster, but that doesn’t mean one wasn’t there. You’ll just have to tune in to my new reality show for about four or five seasons as I unravel the mystery.

Todd Hartley sees no difference between pretending to mow an imaginary lawn and filming people looking for imaginary creatures. To read more or leave a comment, please visit


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