Forget King Kong . Consider instead a species of giant ape undiscovered by science. Between eight and 12 feet tall, the powerful, intelligent primate walks on two feet through the forests of North America. Thousands of people claim to have seen it. Such professional observers as judges, policemen and doctors all describe a similar beast. Hundreds of tracks, confirmed as primate, have been found. America’s King Kong is the sasquatch , aka Bigfoot .
More and more scientists are risking ridicule to champion the sasquatch’s existence, several devoting their lives to researching it. Even Jane Goodall, the respected primatologist, says: “I’m fascinated by the accounts from people I trust, and I have a totally open mind about Bigfoot’s existence.”
I, too, kept an open mind when I recently joined the Bigfoot Research Organisation (BFRO) in Olympic National Park, Washington State, on a sasquatch -seeking mission.
On the drive from Seattle, across beautiful Puget Sound to the forested Olympic Mountains, Kristine Walls told me about our quarry. Walls, a botanist and BFRO investigator, had not seen a sasquatch but accepted its existence wholeheartedly. The animals are placid, she said, but they have killed people and have been seen beating pigs to death with their fists. No one has found a dead Bigfoot , perhaps because its bones are quickly dispersed in woods, and perhaps because the Bigfoot buries its dead.
“Are we going to see a ‘squatch’?” I asked, aping Kristine’s lingo.
“Maybe, maybe not, but you’ll definitely know if one’s nearby.”
“Oh, you’ll know.”
The BFRO team’s campsite headquarters, the Log Cabin Resort, was on the steep, thickly wooded shores of the famously deep Crescent Lake. Shrill children ran between camper vans, teens sunbathed and swam, parents prepared barbecues. It was as bright and peaceful as the beginning of a horror film.
The BFROers greeted me warmly. There were about 35 people in all, largely male and aged from 12 to 65. A couple were wild-haired, wacky-eyed guys, yet most were sober, middle-class people – a lawyer, a fighter pilot and a smattering of students and academics.
Matt Moneymaker, the 39-year-old charismatic founder of BFRO, was organising the evening’s activities. The atmosphere was informed, academic but excited-to-be-outdoors, as you might find at an open-air Star Trek convention.
Small groups peeled off into the woods. The idea was to see and photograph or film sasquatch , but not to disturb it. Squatches prefer women, apparently, so Moneymaker sent me off with Tracy, a young anthropology student but veteran squatch investigator, her friend, Kerry, and Kristine Walls.
We walked through boundless woods. With no moon or cloud, the stars were in full riot. It was hard to look up without seeing a shooting star. We passed by silent, silhouetted trees, and sniffed the cool air, musky with the summer aroma of cedar, pine and alder.
As the girls sang to attract squatches, I mused on how these normal, intelligent people would be considered loons by many for believing something that hegemonic Western science denies. Mainstream academia believes that Bigfoot is explainable fiction. Dr Simon Roberts, an anthropologist, says: “Myths have a function. The creation of Bigfoot might be a way of delineating between wild nature and man’s domesticated world.”
Then there’s the Jungian idea that monsters are a projection of our inner animal. Dr Christopher Bailey, a psychiatrist, says: “Aggressive impulses deemed intolerable for civilised people are disowned and attributed to something outside the self, like when people who kill wolves for sport refer to them as bloodthirsty killers (and fail to see the irony).”
Myth or not, we found no trace of the sasquatch that night. But the next day the camp was abuzz with excitement. In his tent deep in the woods, Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Jones (retired) had had an Encounter: at about 4am, a huge sasquatch had loomed over his tent, he claimed. Moneymaker decided to take action. That night a crack team would return to the scene. Dr Leila Hadj-Chikh, a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, would set up her high-tech recording equipment. Jones would operate a PA system to broadcast what was thought to be a recorded Bigfoot call. Tracy and Kristine would make squatch noises to lure the beasts. I’d go, too, to record and objectively verify its appearance. I was to sleep exactly where Jones had the night before.
We camped in a clearing and listened as Jones recounted the couple of times he had seen squatches. I was nearly converted. Jones didn’t seem the type to lie.
I became spooked, especially after the bone-chilling Bigfoot “call” was blasted out, then even more when we distinctly heard three somethings walking around us in the brush. They would stop moving when we stopped talking. After a while, they went away and we went to sleep. I awoke in the morning disappointed they hadn’t come closer.
Back at camp, there had been another Encounter. Tattoo artist Chip Beam said he’d been loomed over just as Jones had been.
That night’s vigil, deep in the forest, was a jolly affair. A long midnight walk, with much singing to lure squatches, was followed by a great fireside chat late into the night. Soon after the call-blasts there were noises all around, as if a crowd of Bigfoot was circling.
Kristine woke us all in the morning by shouting: “I’ve just seen a squatch!” We leapt from our tents and ran to the spot. I searched for broken branches, spoor and droppings, not sure what I was doing but enjoying the moment.
Kristine was elated. It was her first “sighting” after two years in the field. She spent the entire journey back to Seattle talking about it, and was understandably defensive against my unvoiced scepticism. The figure she saw could have been a freakishly tall man dressed up as a sasquatch , a deformed bear walking on two legs, or an animal that’s bright enough to hide from humans and has endless tracts of impenetrable forest in which to do it. Which was most likely?
Out there in the woods, meeting so many kind, normal people who said they’d seen the beast, I was almost convinced. But back in cynical Britain, before the eyes of my ready-to-mock peers, my squatch confidence was soon undermined.
The idea, though, that tribes of mini Kongs roam the North American forests is certainly more appealing than believing they don’t. Like Jane Goodall, I’m keeping an open mind, and hoping that BFRO boss Matt Moneymaker is right when he says: “Universal acceptance of Bigfoot’s existence is not only absolutely inevitable, it’s going to happen soon.”
For more information, see http://www.bfro.net.
By Angus Watson
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2005 Daily Telegraph
My thoughts…there was something the reporter said, something I believe as well, and that is that bigfoot is so believed and accepted now, especially with all the technology out there, bigfoot is out there roaming free, he is our connection to being wild, living in and off what nature provides, being free. And we need that connection, or we our lost…
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Watson, Angus. “In the steps of Bigfoot Angus Watson has a few hairy moments on a hunt for the mysterious sasquatch – King Kong’s ‘real-life’ cousin.” Daily Telegraph [London, England], 31 Dec. 2005, p. 005. Gale In Context: World History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A140342221/WHIC?u=frk&sid=bookmark-WHIC&xid=2a7452aa. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.