Arizona Tree Trunks Said To Hold Proof Of Travis Walton's Alien Abduction

February 17, 2022 1:00 AM ‐ UFOsDocumentariesTelevisionLong Reads

This article is more than two years old and was last updated in February 2024.

Discovery+ have re-opened the case file on one of the greatest alien abduction stories of all time in a brand new 'Shock Doc', with access to unique tree ring growths that may prove where the UFO was hovering.

Travis Walton
Photo: © Discovery+

'Alien Abduction: Travis Walton' premieres exclusively on Discovery+ on February 18 and is a must watch for any UFO enthusiast, it's gripping, put together well, and is the perfect re-telling of the real-life events that inspired the movie 'Fire In The Sky'.

The story revolves around Travis Walton from Snowflake, Arizona, and his six workmates who witnessed him being taken by a flying saucer in a forest clearing in 1975. The men were part of a logging crew working in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest .

Of course, this story is nothing new, it's been told time and time again including in the movie adaptation and in Travis' own book, but Discovery+ have done an excellent job of retelling it and have included some very well made dramatic recreations that would rival those seen in 'Fire In the Sky'.

The two-hour documentary features first-hand accounts from several of Travis' crew mates (Mike Rogers, Steve Pierce and John Goulette), his family, members of law enforcement who were the first on the scene, and Travis himself, who is now 64.

The crew talk about the incident, that occurred as they were driving home one evening. Having stopped after seeing a light in a clearing, Travis got out the truck and walked towards what they described as a softly glowing UFO hanging over the forest. Travis was then reportedly zapped by a blueish-green light.

The terrified team drove away, but later return to look for Travis, only to find no sign of him. The disappearance prompted a large scale man hunt, but there was no sign of the 22-year-old. Soon the disappearance was treated as a murder inquiry, with Travis' crew mates as the prime suspects.

The case gained worldwide media attention as then loggers were interrogated, even undergoing polygraph tests. In the documentary, Travis' crew mate, Steve said, "I was more scared on the day of the polygraph than I was when I saw Travis getting zapped."

Five days after he vanished, Travis returned and his remarkable story was uncovered through hypnotic regression techniques.

New Evidence Found In Tree Rings

Tree Rings At Travis Walton UFO Site

The documentary promised access to unique tree ring growths that may prove where the UFO was hovering. This sounded like new and exciting evidence, however this revelation made up only about five minutes at the end of the documentary and was based around the eight-year-old findings of UFO researcher, Ben Hansen.

In 2014, Ben met Travis at the site of his UFO abduction in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. While investigating the clearing they noticed something odd about the tree stumps that surrounded the clearing. Of course, you can count the rings of a tree to find out its age, and since each ring relates to a growing season, the thickness of the ring can tell you if that year was particularly wet or dry.

The odd thing that Ben noticed about the trees near the UFO landing site was that the ring that correlated to 1975 was more spaced out on one side, the side that was facing the clearing. Apparently this was the case in all of the tree stumps observed around the clearing.

This is a really interesting find, but unfortunately, the filmmakers didn't really show us this killer evidence. They did flash some cross sections of trees up on screen, but no effort was made to highlight the rings in question or the unusual growth.

Was the viewer expected to pause their television and count to find the ring representing 1975 and look for this bulge themselves? There's no way for the viewer to know what year these trees were cutdown, so we don't know what year the outer ring grew in and therefore we have no way to count backwards to 1975 - even if the cross sections shown were the real trees at the site.

Ben explained in the documentary, "if you think of a tree ring, they're normally very equal sides, concentric circles on all sides, but these trees had something unique. The rings on the side facing the clearing were spaced out further."

In fact, it's rare for tree rings to display perfect symmetry around the vertical axis of tree trunks, so without being shown the increased spacing of the rings in the documentary it's hard to tell exactly what's going on.

Ben attributes this deformity to "a great amount of growth on that side of the tree" which he puts down to radiation caused by the alien craft. He explained, "I started researching a bit, and I found a couple of studies that happened after Chernobyl. The studies found that these trees grow exponentially greater than any other time period."

Some studies directly after the 1986 nuclear incident did determine that trees and other kinds of vegetation were flourishing within the disaster zone, the remarkable resilience of these plants to the intense radiation surrounding them came as quite a surprise.

However, it was the fact the trees had survived at all that was surprising, not their growth rate. In fact ring samples of Scots pines taken from Chernobyl in 2013 clearly show that the growth of trees was still being stunted by the lasting effects of radiation. It's clear to see the trees' rings become tighter in the years following the accident.

The Chernobyl exclusion zone is very different to the Arizona forest clearing. After the core melted a huge amount of airborne radioactive particles were spewed out that contaminated the area. This radioactive contamination survives to this day, which is why the trees' growth is still being affected years later.

However, the tree rings at the site of Travis' abduction don't show the lasting effects of radiation contamination. According to Ben, the unusual growth occurred in just one year of the trees' lives. This is very strange because it would mean that if the alien craft did contaminate the area, the radiation hung around enough to affect a whole year of the trees' existence, but vanished completely the next year and the growth of the trees returned to normal.

The problem with radiation is that it hangs around, it's why nuclear waste is such a problem. In the film, we're told that following Travis' disappearance a Geiger counter was used at the clearing. According to Travis' older brother, Don, who is the only living person to witness the meter's readings, the needle went off the scale.

Although claiming it buried the needle doesn't tell us much, it suggests that it's unlikely that the radiation would fall so quickly to such a safe level so as not to affect the trees' growth the following season.

However, this claim does confirm that the area must have been contaminated with a radioactive substance rather than just being irradiated by the craft's propulsion systems.

To understand the difference between irradiation and contamination, we need to think back to high school science lessons. When something is irradiated the radiation passes through it. The crucial thing here is that the object, whether it be a person, a tree or the ground, doesn't become radioactive itself, but as the radiation passes through the object it can cause damage to it.

Think of being X-Rayed at a hospital - you are exposed to a highly radioactive source which passed through your body allowing doctors to see a picture of your insides. An X-Ray does not leave you radioactive, but too many scans can be harmful.

However, some medical scans require the use of a tracer. These radioactive substances are introduced into the body and their movement can be seen from outside by observing the radiation they emit. This is contamination, and in this case your body does become radioactive, at least until the tracer passes through your body.

So, if the claim that radiation was detected in the clearing is true, then we know that the area must have been contaminated, not just irradiated. This is a strange notion to get your head around. Why would an alien craft drop a radioactive substance? A species that has evolved to the point of interstellar travel should surely have evolved beyond this level of polluting. What must their home planet be like? Their space ports would be nothing more than toxic dumping grounds.

The only logical explanation would be that the radioactive particles are dropped intentionally, perhaps to biologically cleanse the area and destroy any evidence they were ever there.

But this still leaves the mystery of how the radioactive contamination affected so little of the trees' lives, just one growing year. The radiation should have survived for years to come, like in Chernobyl. Was it an accident and the aliens came back to decontaminate?

It should also be remembered that the majority of a tree's growth occurs in late spring and early summer, so by November when Travis' encounter took place, the trees surrounding the site would have already formed the bulk of their rings for that year. Did the visitation cause the trees to continue growing into winter?

Well, it's possible, but there's still that contradicting evidence from Chernobyl. The fact remains that samples taken from the Ukrainian exclusion zone tell us that the radiation at Travis' site should have caused the trees to decrease their growth on one side, not increase it.

But if it's not radiation that caused these irregular rings in the trees, then what has? There are a few factors that can affect the thickness of a tree's rings, but the most telling clue in this case is that the trees surround a clearing.

Forest clearings are areas where trees have often died leaving an open space amongst the remaining trees. This can be cause by fires, insect infestations, landslides and several other factors.

Any of these are possible explanations of why the trees' growth was accelerated on one side during one year only. A forest fire caused by a lightning strike could have created the clearing. In this scenario the fire may have damaged the trees surrounding the clearing. When this happens burn scars are found in a tree's rings which make them appear thicker or more spaced out.

It could be that the side of the tree that was facing the clearing had a more exposed root structure that extended under the clearing. This would result in the roots on one side of the tree getting more water and causing one side of the trunk to grow more. But then you'd think it would be the same each year. Well, it might be, but if 1975 was particularly wet in that area then the subtle differences in relative thickness might be exaggerated on a year of faster growth, making it easier to see.

It could be that insects wiped out a patch of trees which then fell to the ground and decomposed. This process could have returned nutrients to the soil feeding the roots below the clearing for a season. Although this theory is less likely, it's still more likely than aliens being the cause.

Another thing that creates forest clearings is damage to roots due to landslides. It may be that such a ground movement occurred near Snowflake, killing a group of trees and leaving those surrounding the area sloping inwards. A tilted tree reacts by growing extra wood on one side to straighten itself, it's called reaction wood. If the tree's alignment was only knocked out very slightly, the trees might have been able to grow enough reaction wood to correct the problem in just one year.

If the trees in the area really do hold the scars of Travis' alien encounter, then this is strong evidence that supports his case, but if logic prevails and tells us that these distorted rings have nothing to do with radiation, this doesn't disprove Travis' claims, it just means Ben has come to the wrong conclusion in his research.

As Travis himself once famously said, the absence of evidence doesn't equate to the evidence of absence.

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