K.S. Brooks / Silverado Express Newspaper
What do Sasquatch researchers talk about around the fire? Stories of finding footprints, hearing screams, and other mysterious encounters. I get a feeling that there is a little bit of competition in some cases, but for the most part, they all want the same thing: to know if Sasquatch is, in fact, real.
Of course there are the groups that already believe it is real and want to see it with their own eyes. There are others who are skeptical and want to prove — either way — whether it is real or not. Then there are the people who think there’s definitely something out there and want to know what it is.
Being invited on a Sasquatch expedition may sound strange to some, but to me, it was an honor because of the level of trust involved. I agreed to camp overnight at an undisclosed location. Eventually, I was told the address and asked not to reveal it in order to preserve the wildness of the place. Don’t bother asking me where. I won’t tell.
Will Ulmer of Bigfoot of Stevens County greeted me when I arrived. He had just returned to camp with visiting experts Stephen Major of Extreme Expeditions Northwest LLC, Larry “Bean” Baxter of Kenai Bigfoot Research Group, Amy Bue of Project ZooBook, and Josiah Martin of Martin Media. The group had brought thermal and infrared imaging that was really impressive. Their film crew — Josiah — had one of the most advanced drones available. If Sasquatch was out there, they felt pretty confident they’d be able to pick up on him or her.
Will wasn’t so certain. He is a skeptic and always looks for a logical or scientific explanation for everything. While he had no logical explanation for the loud primate-like roars and screams we heard, or the “wood knocks” — the hollow, echoing sound of striking a large branch against the trunk of a tree — he had one for pretty much everything else we encountered. I enjoyed watching him dictate notes into a recorder, measure footprints, and study disturbances in the soil.
The out-of-towners spent most of the first night prepping all their gear and getting their bearings. They’d traveled far to be there — two of them were from Alaska, one from Pennsylvania, and the other from Spokane. Stephen, “Bean,” and Amy were what some would consider Sasquatch experts; Josiah was from a production company tasked to film a documentary on them and Will. While they were settling in, Will, his friend Adrien, and I went for a hike in the direction of some screams they’d heard before I arrived. At 10 o’clock. At night. In the dark. In the wilderness.
With Will in the front, and Adrien in the back, I quietly walked forward. I mirrored Will’s actions, stopping when he did. He had a huge spotlight on his video camera, and Adrien had one on his weapon. I was wearing a headlamp, but left it turned off. I figured if Sasquatch was going to attack us, it would go for the two people it could see — you know, the ones wearing the lights? Then I would run back to camp for help. Hopefully, if I could find it in the pitch black. Actually, I find the light filtering down from the headlamp to be a little distracting, so that was why I didn’t use it.
The men each wore sidearms — not to “hunt” Sasquatch, but for self-defense, in case of a cougar, bear, wolf, or even Sasquatch attack. Supposedly coming in at over eight-feet tall, that meant Bigfoot would be very heavy and powerful. It would take a lot of firepower to stop it if it in fact tried to kill us. The guys were duly prepared. Even I brought weapons, including hornet spray in a sling. Accurate up to about 20 feet, I figured I could hit it in the eyes with the spray and run like heck. No one made fun of me, so I figured it was a good plan.
This, of course, is all “in case” Sasquatch is violent. We don’t know. We don’t even know if he’s real, and again, Will is the first to admit that. Of course, in my vivid imagination, I was convinced that Sasquatch would come into our camp, trash it looking for jerky, and turn my truck over while I was sleeping inside it. Everyone else was sleeping in tents — which had me wondering “Y’all have perfectly good vehicles — why aren’t you sleeping safely inside them?” I was probably not as comfortable as they were, but I felt a boatload safer.
Using the facilities in the middle of the night, however, was somewhat problematic. With motion-sensing cameras, lights, and audio recording devices pretty much growing on trees near our campsites, it wasn’t like I had any privacy outside of the truck. And making the long walk down to the “bathroom,” such as it was, in the middle of the night, was not a safe option as far as I was concerned. Luckily I’d saved a cup — but then the problem became where to put it afterwards since I didn’t have a lid… These are issues people may want to think through before embarking on this sort of adventure.
Cracking branches up on the ridge later that night kept a nearby camper awake. He said whatever made the noises had to be pretty big. That morning, the three of us took another hike to check that out. While Will did find, measure, and mark some tracks that looked like someone had been hiking barefoot, we also found some fresh bear scat, the source of which he was quick to state was probably what was crashing around during the night.
With deadlines for two different newspapers looming, I had to get back to work and an internet signal. Even as I write this, they’re still up there, in the wilderness, enjoying starry skies and the smell of the forest. It would be nice to be back up there with them. When I left, I was scowling and scuffing my feet like a child going into an unfair time-out.
“We’re not going to see anything,” Will said.
“I know,” I answered. “I don’t care. I was having fun hiking and camping.”
And that, I guess, is the moral of the story. Whether Sasquatch is real or not isn’t really important: getting outside and enjoying our beautiful area is. Just remember to bring a big cup. With a lid.
This article originally ran in the December 2019 edition of the Silverado Express newspaper. For more on the Silverado, go to http://facebook.com/silveradoexpress.