Searching for Sasquatch

Washington state boasts the most Sasquatch sightings in North America: 487, followed by California 419 and Oregon 224. And while some might be skeptical of this brobdingnagian creature also known as Bigfoot, 40-odd years ago, the FBI took it seriously enough to provide assistance to an information center in The Dalles, Oregon, dedicated to the cryptid.

According to Popular Science, The FBI Just Released Bigfoot’s Official File, twenty-two pages of information, primarily correspondence between Peter Byrne, Director of The Bigfoot Information Center (BIC) and Exhibition in The Dalles, Oregon, and Jay Cochran, Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI in Washington, D.C. On August 26, 1976, Mr. Byrne sends “about 15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin…the first that we have obtained in six years that we feel may be of importance” to the FBI, asking for a “comparative analysis” of the hairs. He assures Cochran that, “an examination of hair, or the opposite, by the FBI., does not in any way, as far as we are concerned, suggest that the FBI., is associated with our project or confirms in any way, the existence of the creature(s) known as Bigfoot.” For several months, correspondence flows back and forth between the two organizations. And then, on February 24, 1977, the Assistant Director of the FBI transmits the Academy of Applied Science’s results of analysis on the hair sample to Curtis, “It was concluded as a result of these examinations that the hairs are of deer family origin.” Sadness…

But a lack of compelling evidence hasn’t deterred believers in Bigfoot hunters one bit. “Finding Bigfoot was an American television series on Animal Planet. It premiered on May 29, 2011. The program follows four researchers and explorers, who are the most frustrated they’ve been while squatching in a long time, investigating potential evidence of Bigfoot, a cryptid hominid allegedly living in the wildernesses of the United States and Canada.” The 100-episode series ran for nearly 6 years. Finding Bigfoot is one of Animal Planet’s top rated programs.

Douglas Perry of the Oregonian explained in a recent article How a 1924 Bigfoot battle on Mt. St. Helens helped launch a legend, “No one knows for sure when the Northwest’s Bigfoot legend truly began, but the most successful launching pad for the public’s obsession with it is known: a battle that supposedly took place in a narrow gorge on the east flank of Mt. St. Helens. The gorge is now called Ape Canyon. That’s where, in the summer of 1924, a group of gold prospectors stumbled out of the woods, shaking and glassy-eyed, to tell of 7-foot-tall ape-like animals attacking them with boulders…They claimed they were eight miles from Spirit Lake when they encountered four of the giant animals moving through the forest with erect, human-like strides.”

Mount St. Helens, located in Washington State, is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range, and it is the most likely of the contiguous U.S. volcanoes to erupt in the future. “Less than two months after it first rumbled to life–on a bright Sunday morning in May–Mount St Helens exploded with a violence out of all proportion to what it had done before. It was the single most powerful natural disaster in US history…more powerful even than the world’s first atomic explosion on the high plains of New Mexico in 1945.” “Today the area surrounding Mount St Helens has much more biological diversity than it did before the eruption.” This makes the post-eruption area of Mount St Helens near Ape Canyon an excellent place to search for Sasquatch.

The 20-Mile Bigfoot Hunting Course

On Friday, August 9, 2019, my sister and I, together with about 150 others, set off on the annual adventure known as the Bigfoot 20-mile, which takes place along the edge of the Mount St Helens National Monument, a mere five miles from Ape Canyon, in search of the quiet giant known as Bigfoot. Making contact with one would be no easy feat. “These creatures are largely nocturnal, very, very shy, and they do not expose themselves to humans beings if they can help it.” Searchers showed up in brightly colored tanks, shorts and hats with plenty of exposed arms, legs and faces. Your body has a signature odor, just as your fingers have unique prints. And although research indicates that Bigfoots are herbivores, the sweaty surface area of all of these athletes provides a significant stench, which we hoped would compel the creature to expose him or herself to at least one of us. Additionally, most carried water and/or some sort of hydration. Research indicates that Bigfoots have sweet tooths and enjoy the taste of electrolytes like Gatorade, though nobody knows which flavor they prefer.

Traveling at varying paces, we kept our eyes peeled while covering a total of twenty miles, fifteen of single track, five of double, completing the course in times from just under three to nine hours. Faster finishers gain bragging rights for speed, but obviously put in the least search effort, which is sort of lame if you think about it.

The planned route took us through a treacherous boulder field, the slowest section of the course. Participants carefully crossed while searching for Sasquatch under and between the massive rocks.

From 8:00 am until nearly 1:00 pm, we made our way through forests filled with new growth and old growth; and over trails consisting of hard pack clay, slippery sand, small sharp chippy rocks and large sharp scrapy rocks. The last quarter of the course was less perilous than the rest, which gave us more time to observe for movements in the trees. My smallish sister agreed to act as bait during an open, several-mile-long stretch near the finish while I acted as camera person, hoping Sasquatch would feel safe enough to make an appearance…he didn’t.

In the end, after nearly five hours of searching for Sasquatch, we came up empty handed (except for a medal awarded to every person who completed the 20 mile search). This does not deter us in the least. Next year, we’ll be back to try again.

Sasquatch search organizers awarded this medal to participants

References: In Search of Sasquatch by Kelly Milner Halls (Pp 4, 27, 36), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Boston, NY ©2011; Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St Helens (Prologue, P 237) by Steve Olson (P), W.W. Norton & Company, NY © 2017.

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