My personal quest for the North American Yeti
Posted on Thursday, 22 March, 2007 | 32 comments
My personal interest in the North American yeti, sasquatch, or bigfoot as the creature is commonly called began innocently enough. As a young teen I read the account of the Patterson footage and found the story very interesting. Some of the stills from the film were quite compelling. It seemed to me like bigfoot was a real creature just awaiting scientific discovery. Time passes, things change, people grow older, more mature, and in need of employment. Such was my life. The twelve or thirteen year old boy became a young man in need of a life of his own. After a stint in the U.S. Army, and four years of college, I found myself employed with one of the world's top corporations. In the space of a few years I discovered that professional success afforded me a significant amount of free time. I quickly tired of the corporate "cookie cutter" mentality. I began to think that true success was measured by the ability to pursue one's own interests. This philosophy I chased with gusto. I began to return to the things/interests/hobbies that I really enjoyed as a youth.
I pursued dozens of hobbies - literally. I tried my hand at everything from backpacking to writing. During this time of personal growth and exploration I fulfilled many lifetime dreams and ambitions. I began to believe that with the proper amount of preparation and determination almost anything was possible. I wrote a novel. I learned how to cook. I climbed mountains. I joined a rock band and had the good fortune of doing a few studio albums. The list goes on and on. By the time the list was complete, I had become a pretty solid outdoorsman. My friends even called me "The Guyver" because of a seemingly innate ability to rig stuff up out in the woods with nothing more than parachute cord and twine. One night I dreamt of the California condor. I knew that about a dozen of the large soaring birds had recently been reintroduced to the Los Padres National Forest, not far from my home. I decided to hop on an old four-stroke trail bike with a backpack and pair of binoculars and try my luck. After about two years of halfhearted searching - just poking around in the woods on weekends, my efforts were rewarded. I observed the condor in the wild. The circumstances of that sighting were amazing. I first discovered the nest of a breeding pair of golden eagles. I sat down, pulled out my binoculars, and proceeded to observe them while having lunch. They were huge and beautiful. One flew off and I followed on the trail bike. It was remarkably quiet and underpowered, perfect for following the bird.
When I reached the top of a ridge a few miles away I spotted the condor. It was unmistakable. It was even larger than the eagle. What happened next was astounding! I don't think that it would be a stretch to say that I am one of only a few people alive that's seen a golden eagle and a condor engage in a dogfight. That's exactly what happened. It didn't last long; the golden eagle kicked the condor's butt and chased it away. Anyway, that observation was such a thrill; it just cemented my love for the outdoors and for observing nature. I said all of that to say this. I began to wonder about the existence of bigfoot. I was curious, and began to look into the phenomenon like any other person would, I bought some books. One specific book (very well written) by John Green got me thinking that many of the sightings were authentic. This was a few years after the internet became widely used and information was beginning to show up there. After some time, I decided I had to know for sure, one way or the other.
I began to make plans for excursions into the wilderness areas of Northern California. At first I disguised my intentions with fishing trips and backpacking ventures so that I could get my friends to go. I didn't want to go alone, and I didn't want people to think that I was crazy. Those first few trips were great fun, but no sightings or evidence of bigfoot turned up. I finally decided that I had to get serious if I was going to find out for sure. I wanted to prove to myself that this creature either was, or was not. That's when I saw the documentary 'Sasquatch: The Legend Meets Science.' It was very convincing. Jimmy Chilcutt's professional opinion was difficult to dismiss, as was the Skookum Cast. I was now about 99.9% convinced that the sasquatch was indeed an undiscovered species of bipedal ape. But, I wanted to see one for myself. I became quite a computer nut as I constantly searched the web for new information on the subject. I daily checked my favorite bigfoot sites to see if anything new had turned up. I joined an online discussion group and that's where I found someone who was crazy enough to go stomping through the woods with me in search of the sasquatch.
We packed up enough gear and supplies to last about 3 weeks and took off. We selected an old-growth forest in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest of Washington State as our primary search zone. Our first week was spent in or near a place called Indian Heaven Wilderness. Most people, even locals, are not aware of the place but it has an interesting history. Various tribes of Native Americans used to gather there in the summers to harvest berries and compete in a form of competition similar to our Olympics. To this day the tracks from their horse races can still be seen. We employed a number of tactics in search of the elusive sasquatch, all to no avail. I should mention that it was the middle of June and there was more rain than I have ever seen in my whole life. I couldn't believe how hard it could pour down. We finally decided to head into town for a day or two until the rain stopped. It was about forty miles to the nearest small town. When we finally arrived we found that the town's one hotel was full. We were referred to a B&B down the street; the only other lodging in the area. I hate B&B's but beggars can't be choosers. Once we got all situated and settled in we decided to go speak to the owners. The place was owned by a married couple who had been in the area for many years. We spoke to the "misses" first.
She was curious as to what brought us in so we just came right out and told her. She didn't really seem too surprised although she did confess that locals didn't talk too much about the sasquatch. Their opinion is that the scientists have concluded that bigfoot can't exist, so therefore it must not. Anyone who actually "believes" in such a thing must be crazy. After a brief but polite conversation she admitted that her husband had a story that we should hear. The husband was a country man. I have a real appreciation for his kind. They strike me as being as honest as the day is long. I've had people like this take me into their homes no questions asked and treat me like family. They remind me of what America used to be like. Anyway, this quiet unassuming man proceeded to tell us the story of his sasquatch encounter. He didn't seem too excited to tell it, and let us know that it had been many years since he had. His encounter happened many years prior. I think he said twenty or thirty years ago. Anyway, he was a young man out hunting elk in the Goat Rocks area of Gifford-Pinchot. As night began to approach he made camp and a dense fog rolled in. Not long after it was completely dark he began to hear noises. He heard what sounded to him like a man walking around out in the bush. He called out several times, but no answer. He shouted that he had a gun and if anyone was messing around they could get shot. He was carrying his elk rifle and also had holstered a .357 magnum for back-up. All of the sudden he heard the most terrifying scream that you could imagine. He said it was incredibly loud and seemed to come from only twenty or thirty feet away. It scared him so bad he was paralyzed. He curled up in his tent holding his handgun next to his chest and lay there all night. He couldn't sleep a wink. He informed us that "the thing" out there was no bear; he was sure of that. He told us that for what seemed like several hours the creature stomped around outside muttering like a crazy person would. Needless to say this experience really shook him up and he never went to that area again. He said that he's never heard anything like that before or since. He's never seen a sasquatch but he's pretty sure that's what was outside his tent that night.
Well, that story motivated us. We both believed this guy 100%. We checked our maps and located the Goat Rocks area. It was only about 70 miles from where we were. We had already made plans to search the area near Mt. St. Helen's where the Skookum Cast was made and to set out some bait traps. We decided that after searching Skookum Meadows we would explore the Goat Rocks area for a few days. As luck would have it, the next day was clear. We checked the weather report and found out that there was no rain in sight. We packed up our gear and headed back into the bush. Within a couple of hours Mt. St. Helen's was in sight. We were on an old forest service road leading to the Skookum Meadow. We used a GPS unit to locate the exact location of the Skookum Casting. After looking around for a few, we continued on down the road to find a good place to camp. We found one a few miles later. We made camp on a knoll overlooking a river. It was nice and grassy in an old clear-cut area and we had good visibility for about 50 yards in each direction. After setting up camp we hiked in to the Skookum Meadow (which should be called Skookum swamp) to set up some bait traps. It took us two hours to hike the 1/2 mile back to camp. We literally got stuck in that swamp about every 20 yards or so. Anyway, a short way down the road from our campsite we found another good place to set a bait trap. Past the river, there was a clearing about 75 yards around. It must have been made to store the heavy equipment used to make the forest service road many years prior. We noticed a game trail at the west end of the clearing leading into the tree line. We set a bait trap and headed back to camp.
Once at camp we did the normal routine cooking dinner and cleaning up the mess. One must be very aware of the presence of bears in an area like this. Improper handling of food can lead to some encounters of the unwanted kind. As dusk was approaching we sat in front of our tent and took in our surroundings. We were camping many miles from any civilization including paved roads, and there were no humans to be found near us, period. As we sat in the complete, almost spooky silence of the deep forest, we began to hear bears approaching. They paid us a healthy respect and gave us a perimeter of maybe one hundred yards all around. By this time it was almost dark and we could hear their grunting and bawling noises that seemed a coordinated type of communication. We prepped our firearms just to be on the safe side and listened. As we listened to these bears all around, it occurred to us that we must be camped directly in their normal path to the river. They must be informing each other to beware of the two rednecks with guns camped nearby, or so we thought. That's when we heard the roar of the sasquatch. It came suddenly, and with incredible force. A roar that echoed through the area and emanated from the river bottom directly in front of us shook us to the core.
This sound was nothing like the bears that we had been listening to. It was easily ten times more powerful, deeper, more resonant and much scarier. We froze eyes and mouths wide open and listened. We could hear bears scampering away at full speed, running away from the sound. Then there was total silence again.I had spent years dreaming of a moment like this. We had night vision gear, cameras, guns, and low light binoculars, and I couldn't care less. My friend said that he wasn't scared, but neither one of us made a step toward the river. The bottom line is this. The only other animal that I know of with enough size and lung capacity to create the sound we heard is the grizzly bear. To my knowledge there are no grizzly bears in that portion of Washington State. In fact, it is my understanding that there are no grizzlies in the state whatsoever. If there were, I would be packing something heavier than a 9mm on my hip. In my opinion nothing smaller than a .44 magnum would be acceptable for such a purpose. In any event, neither of us ventured outside of camp. We decided it would be best to wait until daylight and search for tracks. That's exactly what we did. At first light we were up. We searched the immediate area but found no tracks. We then proceeded to our bait site, a couple of miles down the road. We found tracks all right. They were 18 inches long! And, the bait site had been completely scattered. We found teeth marks in the cantaloupe and the rinds had been left on the ground. Potatoes had not been touched, but all of the fruit had been eaten. I can tell you one thing for sure. Those tracks were not made by a grizzly bear. They were sasquatch tracks. They were shaped exactly like a bare human foot, only twice as long!Unfortunately, the tracks were not very deep. The ground there was filled with rocks.
Small, broken chunks of rock with little dirt filled the entire area. I am six feet tall, weigh 205 pounds, and even with heavy boots on I couldn't leave an impression on the ground. I jumped up and down repeatedly and still barely made a mark. The prints that we found were embedded about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch in the ground. We could see them with our eyes, but felt that they wouldn't make a very good cast. We decided against the attempt. Instead, I had the brilliant idea of repeating the incident. I was certain that the animal that ate the fruit would return again during the night. I decided that we would improve our bait trap by adding soft soil all around. We spent a couple of hours retrieving that soft soil. It was not easy to find. We drove down the road a couple of miles and dug soft dirt out of a hillside. We then returned to the bait site and spread the dirt all around the fruit. I was sure that this time we would get some awesome impressions, but it was not meant to be. As we were finishing up the bait site we heard crashing noises in the surrounding brush. It was loud and startled us, but be couldn't see anything. We grabbed our video cameras and began filming while backing up toward the truck. We couldn't see any animals, but something large was nearby. We stood near the truck for about ten minutes but all remained quiet. We decided to return to camp. We were both so excited we were giggling. We were convinced that we had heard a sasquatch and found physical evidence of its presence.
I began to think about the size of the creature. It was not easy to forget the sound that we heard the night before. I would like to remind readers that we were only about 2 miles from the location of the Skookum Cast. I knew that the Patterson creature had left foot impressions measuring 14.5 inches in length and most height estimates of that creature are around 7 feet. I did some rudimentary mathematical calculations using ratio and proportion and determined that the creature near us was around 8.7 or nearly nine feet tall! I got a mental image of a dark creature covered with hair, able to see at night, standing on two legs, nine feet tall and three to four feet wide at the shoulder with the creepy ability to sneak up on me unnoticed. Needless to say, those thoughts were rather intimidating. That is the basic story. That night a heavy rain moved in. It rained all night long. It was still sprinkling the next morning. Our improved bait site was untouched and completely washed out. The soft soil that we had so painstakingly imported was gone. I was sick and tired of rain and I missed my wife and kids. I felt that I had received what I came for and I was ready to leave. I had proved to myself, almost beyond the shadow of doubt, in spite of what anyone else says, sasquatch is out there. I was certain that the tracks we found had not been faked. There were no people near us at all. Even though the place where the tracks were found was accessible by dirt road, we would have heard any approaching vehicles.
Unless you have spent some time in the woods, you don't know how sound travels there. And since we were the only humans camped in the area for days, maybe weeks or even months, no one would have known to come to our area and try to fake bigfoot tracks. Besides that, unless you had heavy gauge metal footprints and a really heavy hammer, you would not have made a dent in that ground. I don't know why a body or the bones of a sasquatch have not yet been discovered but it seems to me that at some point they will. The sworn testimony of credible eyewitnesses like deputies and highway patrol men, added to the dermal ridges left behind on tracks should be enough to convince us of the creatures existence, but I know it's not. In any event, it's an intriguing mystery and I feel that those few who have seen the sasquatch are fortunate.Article Copyright© Yetihunter - reproduced with permission.