By Richard D. Seifried
Journal of the Fortean Research Center
The following article does not deal with UFO's. However, anyone who has been in the investigative business for long knows that no matter how one tries, fringe mysteries keep appearing in cases. The so-called Bigfoot is one of them. I have refrained from including UFO cases that have Bigfoot material in them. In fact I have never investigated such a case; but others have. Some of the people are very sincere, intelligent, and sometimes badly frightened witnesses.
The witnesses in the article are all very reputable. Most are shy in revealing such bizarre experiences. The Native Americans in the document do not have this problem. To them, the Bigfoot legend is a part of their heritage; a small segment of their environment. They neither boast of their experiences nor accept the shallow explanations of their white neighbors.
As for myself, not only am I fairly well educated but I am also a well trained woodsman. I am very comfortable presenting this information because I know what I have experiences. A Bigfoot spoor, for example, i not easily confused with a Grizzly Bear's paw print. I am somewhat of an expert on this point.
At a time in the history of UFO studies when we find ourselves going back and reassessing formerly rejected material, I submit this to you for your critical, analytical evaluation.
... Disbelief overwhelmed me and I brushed my fingers before my eyes, trying to regain reality.
It was still there.
Dark, clearly visible, yet illusive, the specter seemed to glide rapidly across the roadway. Immediately the intense forest shadows enveloped the creature in a blanket of seclusion.
Thoughts, memories, and images from the past rushed at me. What had begun twenty-three years ago had reached a visual climax. I had seen the apparition.
My quest for the truth began in the spring of 1964. While hiking in the rain forest of Olympic National Park, overwhelming odors of soured meat, garbage, and offal had assailed my nostrils.
The putrid stench emanated from a cave entrance a half-dozen feet above my head. Instinctively I assumed that a bear was above me. I hurried on. Inexperience had prevented me from realizing that no bear, however offensive, smelled quite that bad.
I immediately put the experience out of my mind.
Months later, after we moved away, I received a newspaper clipping. It reported that a giant ape-like creature had been seen on the outskirts of Hoquim, Washington. That wasn't very far from the rain forest. For the first time I wondered if the smells, so extremely disagreeable, had really been from a bear. Perhaps not.
My next encounter with a mysterious creature took place on a Saturday of July in 1977. I was hiking up the rugged slopes of Steen Mountain, in the Salmon National Forest, Idaho.
The trail led out onto a very steep meadow. Below, apparently from within an island of firs, a powerful roaring sound welled upslope, assailing my ears. My mind conjured up the image of Gargantua, the famous circus gorilla of the 1940s.
Never before or since have I experienced such a powerful, chesty roar. There is no animal that I am aware of that can duplicate what I heard; not even a male grizzly.
Two days later I told my boss about the sound. He informed me that the previous April two United States Forest Service employees had experienced a frightening encounter. I was able to interview one worker.
One morning, around 2:30 am, the two men were driving home from a visit to the town of Salmon, Idaho. Fearing that the driver would fall asleep, they steered their pickup off the side of the road at Waggonhammar Springs. A cold drink of water would awaken them.
As Troy, the man I interviewed, stepped out of the truck that morning, his companion, who was already walking toward the spring, suddenly screamed in terror. Troy ran to the front of the truck and saw nothing. However, he did hear the crashing of underbrush as a huge animal made its way back into the forest.
His young companion was in shock. When Troy got him calmed down the youth explained that there had been a gigantic ape-like creature sitting on a boulder, watching them.
The two men had confronted the animal at the mouth of the same canyon where I had heard the roaring sounds; 3,000 feet above the road.
Naturally everyone, except my two supervisors, laughed when I told my story. I went into detail about the odors I had experienced thirteen years before.
At the end of the winter of 1977-78, one of my supervisors and another employee were scattering grass seed upon a snow-covered slope of a mountain. The spreader was towed behind the truck, with one worker manning the machinery.
A slight breeze wafted up slope. Earl, my summer boss, and his companion caught the horrible scent I had described. Frightened, the two men scrambled into the cab of the pickup, rolled up the windows and locked the doors. Hurriedly, they bumped and rumbled down the mountain road, away from the terrible smell. The location was a mere three miles from the place where I heard the roaring sounds.
During the summer seasons of the early and mid-1980s, I worked in Glacier National Park as a Ranger Naturalist. By then my curiosity had been greatly aroused about the crazy stories of a gigantic creature living in the vastness of the northern Western states.
Having read about a "Bigfoot" sighting at Logan Pass in Glacier Park I asked the District Ranger about the incident. Bob became extremely irritated and said that such stories were a lot of nonsense.
Over the years I became friends with several of the BLackfeet who were employed by the National Park Service. They believed that the creature existed, whatever it was.
They told me that one winter, citizens of the tiny community of Babb, Montana, located on the eastern side of Glacier National Park, stood outside in the snow, listening. An animal of some sort was running back and forth along the nearby ridge top. As it moved the animal emitted bone chilling screams.
The local Deputy Sheriff was called. By the time he arrived the sounds had stopped. The next morning he found huge, but obscure, prints in the snow and a large patch of woolly fur, snagged on a barb of a wire fence. He gave the fur to the District Ranger.
I was told that the patch of hair was sent to a university laboratory in Bozeman, Montana. Somehow it h ad been "lost." A report was issued indicating it had been grizzly bear fur.
The Blackfeet didn't believe the report.
When I heard that story I realized that the mystery had greatly aroused my curiosity. Try as I would to avoid it, the topic kept coming up in conversations not initiated by me.
One winter, the year escapes me, my family and I attended a spaghetti dinner at my childrens elementary school. This was in Ohio where I now reside.
A gentleman who is now an official of a local community sat next to me. Since we shared a love for the Northern Rockies we began talking about the area. Without my mentioning the subject of the mystery creature, the friend began telling me about his experience.
Years before, he had been employed by the United States Forest Service. He was a trained Civil Engineer and had been part of a small crew surveying an area far back in the Jim Bridger Wilderness Area of Wyoming. One night, as the crew members sat around their campfire, strange, high-pitched cries alerted them that a large, unknown animal was also on the mountain.
Although it was in violation of Federal law, one of the men had packed in a disassembled 22-caliber rifle. He took the weapon from his pack and put it together. The others protested his disregard for the law. Ignoring them, he announced that in the morning he was going t hunt the animal that was making the screaming noises.
At dawn he was gone. Not knowing what else to do or which way the man had gone, the remaining crew members spent the day surveying.
That evening they returned to camp. Their companion had not returned. Next morning he was still absent, so they began searching for him.
They found the rifle first. It was lying alongside the trail, its barrel bent into a "U" shape. Next to the trail the land plunged into a deep canyon. At the base of the cliff they saw the lifeless form of their companion.
"What did the Forest Service do?," I asked.
"Do? Why, they did nothing."
"Nothing?," I echoed.
"That's right. Nothing. The area was closed off to all travel for the remainder of the season. Of course, they brought the body out."
In July of 1985, my wife, youngest daughter and I were hiking along a heavily forested trail in Glacier National Park. The season had been very hot and dry. But that morning some precipitation had fallen. Moisture had settled the thick trail dust.
I was in the lead, for grizzly frequented the trail. Again the phantom entered my life. There before me in the moist earth, was a perfect footprint. It appeared to be of human origin. Five toes, delicate arch, well-proportioned heel--all were clearly evident. Because of the slender gracefulness of the imprint, I took it to be from a female. The length was greater than my heavily booted feet.
Most amazing was the fact that there was but one print, crosswise in the trail. No one else had been on the trail since it had rained the previous night.
Whatever made the impression had a most unusually long stride. One step down and out of the forest onto the middle of the trail and the next footfall must have been on the downhill slope, well beyond the trail itself.
In wonder I paused and marveled at the spoor. My daughter, for some reason, would not look at it. My wife looked and after a pause, turned away. Nowadays, she comment that is must have been something else. "Perhaps a deer made it," she says.
Most importantly, the footprint marked a turning point in my attitude toward the so-called "Bigfoot." If I was to continue to maintain a scientific attitude... open-mindedness, as a rule, then I had very hard evidence to deal with.
Still, reason dictated that any such creature would have been killed or captured by man. Only rumors indicated that this had happened. Continually I asked myself how it could remain virtually unseen. What did it eat? What exactly was I trying to identify?
In May of 1987 I stopped in Chouteau, Montana, to visit with an acquaintance. When Jim discovered that my summer assignment was Crater Lake National Park, he had stated, "Be sure that you carry a five pound bag of plaster of Paris with you."
Laughing at the prospect of doing so, I asked, "why?"
"Because," he unsmilingly responded, "that is Bigfoot country and you might be lucky enough to see a footprint. So, be sure to make a cast of the imprint."
Although I didn't take his advice seriously I did decide to check up on any Crater Lake sightings. In doing so I discovered that there had been perhaps four; all I was informed, by experienced National Park employees. One report I never found. Three were recorded in a history book of the park entitled, The Smith Brothers' Chronological History, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.
The first recorded sighting occurred on June 8 or 9, 1976. The Chief Naturalist, a George Morrison, observed a Bigfoot walking upright across the road in the southern part of the park. He claimed the creature covered the distance across the road in four giant steps. Since it was twilight, the color and shape were difficult to describe. An investigation revealed no footprints.
Two Rangers, Vic Affolter and Marion Jack, had a strange experience during the summer of 1978. They were at the Pacific Crest Trail junction with the West Road of Crater Lake National Park. The two Rangers heard "....something large crashing through the forest." As they listened, the unseen animal threw a pine cone in their direction. Next, they detected an overwhelmingly powerful odor.
Of the Crater Lake sightings, Roger Wade's was probably the best. Again it occurred on the West Entrance Road.
Wade reported "...seeing a Sasquatch, upright-type animal." It was fifty yards ahead of his car. Its fur was a light brown or cinnamon. Contrary to most Bigfoot reports, Roger estimated the animal to be six feet tall. Another difference was that the sighting occurred at 9 am, not in the evening or at night.
Later in the day Roger Wade returned to the site of his encounter. Although somewhat indistinct, large footprints were found. The middle toe appeared to be longer than the others. According to the witness, this is an often reported characteristic of Sasquatch.
Unexplainable odors, sounds, huge footprints, a patch of unidentified fur, and numerous sightings all enabled me, on that beautifully calm night in August, 1987, to recognize and accept what I saw crossing the road.
Even though I felt certain that I had seen the creature, with events so bizarre, there would have always been doubt without some verification. The exaggerated swing of the elbow seemed peculiar. Quickness of step and gracefulness of stride pointed to only one explanation. Whatever it was, the furry monster was a "new" species not yet accepted by the modern world.
But what if there had been nothing?
The next day I reported for duty up at the rim overlooking Crater Lake. When I got out of my government vehicle, a young lady Ranger saw me. She smiled and hurried over.
"I have something to tell you," she exclaimed.
I laughed and responded, "You go first, for something happened to me, too!"
"Last night, after my campfire talk," she began, "the night was so beautiful that I couldn't stay inside our cabin. Placing a chair outside, I sat there with my big dog, looking out over the moonlit valley."
"Shortly after I sat down, a huge animal began smashing branches and logs down along the creek bed. The sounds were the result of tremendously powerful movements from some sort of animal."
"I'm not afraid of wild animals but I was last night." "And you know," she added, "My dog didn't pay the least bit of attention to those crashing sounds. Normally he would have been barking and trying to get loose."
My hair tingled with excitement. The sounds of destruction had come from off the road at exactly the location where my phantom had appeared. The time of her experience was a half-hour after my sighting. The lady Ranger's experience dramatically supported my own encounter.
Reason dictates that something other than the "known" co-exists with us.
Is it truly Sasquatch? Bigfoot? Are there really other dimensions in our natural world? Is the creature a spiritual being? Perhaps he is an illusion of the mind.
Whatever he is, I, like a growing number of other people, know with certainty that he does exist.
We have seen him!