Ask Joel

Have a question about something you read in the book? Want to know more about the Horn family’s adventure?

Just email AskJoel @ and he’ll be happy to answer your questions right here on the website.

Note: Instead of answering emails individually, Joel will post the questions and answers on this page.

Q: Did your family really live in the 12×12 shack featured on the book cover?
A: Yes, we did – for over a decade! As noted in the early chapters, it was nothing more than a dilapidated miner’s shack turned tool shed when we arrived but was the only shelter available for miles around. We fixed it up over time and Marcy planted lots of flowers, turning it into the cozy home featured on pages 243 and 244 in the book.

Q: Did Marcy really get a letter from Euell Gibbons, the author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus and several other natural foods books?
A: Yes, she did. Marcy wrote to Mr. Gibbons about winter survival in the California mountains and he responded to her questions in a two page letter in November 1968.

Q: Where are you now and what have you done in the time between receiving the patent and publishing Impossible Beyond This Point?
A: I stayed at the Flat and still live at the Flat today. I joined the the California National Guard in 1987 and became a UH 1 and UH 60 crew chief. During my 20 years with the Guard, I deployed to Texas during the first Gulf War, did a tour in Bosnia in 1998, and a tour in Iraq in 2005.

In 1996, I married Crystal, who was the post mistress at Helena that we met in 1977 and who is pictured on page 332 of the book. In addition to a wife, I got a readymade family of four children and one grandchild that has grown to include 10 additional grandchildren (so far).

Q: The book alludes to Bigfoot in a few places but have you ever seen any real evidence of Bigfoot at the Flat?
A: Nothing definite but even as a skeptic, I cannot rule out the possible existence of Bigfoot. In addition to the weird and unexplained noises noted in the book, I saw something standing in a clearing while flying over a fire in Siskiyou County in 1994. Also, when coming down the trail from the Point several years ago, Crystal saw something on the river bar in front of the Flat that makes her wonder. Of further interest is an incident in 1977 on the North Fork just above our place.

Q: So what happened to the rest of the family? Where are Virgil, Marcella, and your brothers now?
A: Virgil passed away in 1990 but lives on in the legacy he left here at the Flat.

Marcella passed away in late 2014 after enjoying the Flat for more than 47 years.

Gaines and his wife, Karen, take the lead in running Horn’s Jewelry, the home-based business Virgil and Marcella brought with them to the Flat that has since evolved into and

Kelly also spent 20 years in the California National Guard and now divides his time between the Flat and Weaverville, where he provides IT services and installs satellite and wireless internet systems.

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