Apr 6, 2013

Seeking Sasquatch For The WA Visitors Guide

“Hear that? It could be a Bigfoot,” someone whispers. Night and the forest shroud us, high in the North Cascades. But enough ambient glow remains to throw snowballs — playful salutes from one species hopeful to communicate with another.
Mount Rainier emerges briefly from early winter clouds. Image copyright www.amandacastleman.com. 

Fascinated by Northwest legends, I’ve tagged along with investigators from the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO). Only true believers brave the freeze, unlike the summer expeditions open to the public. So when these “squatchers” whoop and drum on trees near Mount Rainier, WA, they’re braced for one of the state’s estimated 20,000 man-apes to respond.

“No one in the world is an expert, but we’ve all had encounters,” says Spanaway’s Scott Taylor. “My first made a beautiful vocalization that scared the crap out of me!
Artist's Daniel Klennert's driftwood Bigfoot sculpture in his outdoor gallery near the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park(www.danielklennert.com).
Artist Daniel Klennert's driftwood
Bigfoot sculpture in his outdoor gallery
near the west entrance to Mount Rainier
National Park. 
Image copyright
I coped by learning.” He and other BFRO members now counsel others alarmed by the inexplicable. “People can suffer from PTSD. It helps to talk to someone who won’t laugh.”

One third of Americans may believe in Bigfoot, but scientific journals demand proof—and a much-ballyhooed DNA study failed peer reviews last year. A few groups continue to gun for hard evidence: a body. Happily, “creeping around all commando” is not the BFRO way. These squatchers prefer a family-circus approach—heavy on the jokes and singing—and welcome kids as young as eight. As Puyallup’s Michael Beers points out: “You’re not actually hunting: you make yourself interesting so they come to check you out.”

I try, despite my skepticism. I pocket my yeti-spooking flashlight and inch through the dark winter woods. I freeze, alert to every creaking branch and stirring animal, senses wide open. I even bust out a Bigfoot call, which slides off into unfortunate goose-honk territory.

We find only snowmobilers, not Sasquatch. But I admire the spirit of it all: the playfulness, the adventure, the sense of endless possibility that most of us lose with our first 1040 form.

I sure hope the squatchers’ truth is out there.

– By Amanda Castleman

Read the published version in the Washington State Visitors Guide 2013 or order a hard copy for endless 2D fun. Mac users: please note, this site only seems to display in Safari!

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