Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Big Foot


   Sooooo, everyone who believes that Bigfoot exists, raise your hand. K, since i can't actually see who raises their hands I'm going to figure it was most of you. I mean, after all, bigfoot is a very well known "myth". hundreds of folks have claimed to have seen him (or her). I even met one lady in Seattle that swears she lived with a family of them, in a cave in the Cascade mountains. I was not going to be the one to call her a liar, after all, stranger things have happened. Well, maybe not stranger but strange at least. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. - Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

   As for me. I don't know that I am a true believer but I am a serious "wisher". Part of me really wants to believe there are thing out there are as yet undiscovered, unproven and unknown. I have no doubt that is true of the universe, and I'm sure it's also true of the ocean depths but I so want it to be true of world we know. I truly want to believe that there are things out there that a common person can find, either on purpose or just stumble onto by being lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time.

   Stanley and I used to seriously for bears in Deepfork Bottoms. But that's a bear you say, everyone knows there are bears, so what's the big deal? The big deal to us was the simple fact that no one we knew had ever seen a bead in those bottoms and we knew a lot of folks that hunted them. Also at the time seeing a live bear would have been a totally new experience for both of use. But more than that it was the thought of finding what to us was the "unknown". We would be the first to find it and to prove to everyone that made fun of us when they found out what we were doing were wrong. Yes it was a childish thing, even we didn't really believe we would ever find one, but it didn't stop us from looking. So when I first heard about a giant ape man living in the woods, needless to say the top space on y hunting list changed.

   My first problem with hunting the ape man turned out to be that a lot more people were willing to believe that I would find a whole sleuth of bears happily living in Deepfork Bottoms long before I would ever catch a glimpse of an ape man. What happens when pretty well everyone you try to talk to about a wild ape man politely and not so politely tell you that "your cheese has done slide off you cracker". You quite talking to folks and turn to books, at least that was my way. I read every thing I could find in the school library that even sounded like it might have anything to do with ape men which wasn't much. Went to Henryetta and checked out their library, very little, even hitchhiked to Okmulgee, again, not much. My problem was that I wasn't looking for Bigfoot or Sasquatch because I hadn't heard of either of those names at the time. I was looking for Giant Ape Men because that's the only name I knew. I was sitting outside the Henryetta re-reading a small book that had a short story about a deer hunter that had been chased by the ape man while hunting in the swamp down my Coalgate. That one had caught my eye because i knew one of those swamps. My great grandmother lived right by one and i could remember my grandfather hunting and fishing in it.

   I must have been sitting there talking to myself while reading (another reason for some of the cheese and cracker remarks) when I heard someone ask what i was mumbling about. I looked up and there stood Richard Larney. To those of you who don't know, he was a Henryetta cop, my favorite cop even though he scared the hell out of me. He was one of those guys that you really listened to when he talked! he was also a member of the Creek Tribe and when I explained what i had been reading and mumbling about, fully expecting to be told i was a nut I got the worlds biggest surprise!

   Turns out that he not only new about the ape man, he was even willing to tell me about him. That's when I found out that not only the Creek tribe but that most tribes that he knew about had a legion about some kind of large hairy man like creature living in the woods. They weren't all the exact same and most had different names for them but they were all close enough to make you think they were talking about the same creature. Larney wouldn't say weather he believed in the creature or not but he left no doubt that many of the elders sure did. I spent the next few years studying everything I could find on tribal legions will still keeping an eye for anything I could find about european settlements of our country. It really surprised me to find how long these legions had been around from both groups, It also made me keep my eyes open a little better when I was in the woods and was the main reason I ended up hunting so many different parts of Oklahoma. I took every chance I got to go check out any area where there had been any kind of sighting of a swamp monster, ape man or any other unexplained sighting. I would love to say that I found something but the closest I ever came to seeing anything I couldn't explain was right close to home the night Frankie Gene, Skinny and me were out coon hunt. We had something scare the hell out of our dogs that night but all we could see were a set of green eyes reflecting in our light. Skinny wouldn't let me take off up the hill to see what it was so i will never know, I do know that I have hunted most every animal in the U.S. and have seen everything from field mice to moose in the night, I have yet to find one who's eyes shine green in the light.

   By the time I was in my 20's I had pretty well given up on finding the ape man. It turns out that some of the early doubters were right, I didn't find a sleuth but I did finally see one black bear in Deepfork bottoms but no ape man. I never really stopped watching for one but quit going to places where one had supposedly been seen and went back to hunting and fishing in my regular spots. It's hard when you start to realize that something you really want to believe in may only be a case is mistaken identity or just plain ole wishful thinking at best or an outright hoax at the worst. 

   All this rambling so far has been just to let you know that even though I had pretty well given up on actually finding a Sasquatch, Ape Man or any other kind of unknown primate wondering around in the woods the WANT was still buried deep inside me. What would I do if I actually did find something like that? I never carried a camera with me back then. I had no way of making a plaster cast even if I had for an interesting footprint. I'm not sure I could have told the difference between the hair from a bear or a Sasquatch if I was holding both in my hand. If I had told anyone what I had seen it would just be my word and I was under no illusions that would carry any weight so why waste my time? Just for the simple fact that I would have known that they were real, and that would have been enough me. Even today, I honestly believe the only person I would even discuse something like that would be Stanley.

   Anyway, between the Arizona and Washington stage of my life I was wondering around in California for a little bit. It was a pretty easy time in my life, no where to go and all day to get there. I found myself up north of Sacramento sitting in a little cafe having supper  and reading the local paper one night when I happened to run across a story about a guy that had supposedly seen a Sasquatch in the mountains west of Redding. The story also told that this was a prime area for seeing them and was even the area where the most famous film of a Sasquatch was made. What could I do? The urge to at least see one was still there and I sure didn't think I'd ever have a better chance or be in a better spot. So, I headed over to Willow Creek. I had never been in that country before and really had no idea what I might be letting myself in for. I felt pretty comfortable about heading off into the woods because I had a good pack with every thing I thought I might need including a sleeping bag and a small tent. I loaded up with back packers freeze dried meals, checked my compose, pointed my face North and walked out of town and into the woods.

   My first couple of weeks out there was a bit of a trial. In a lot of ways it just a two week camping trip in country that I wasn't used too. I tried to keep heading north east but as anyone who has ever been out in the woods knows, very few trails lead exactly the direction you want to go. There were several times I

d head up a hill only to have the trail give out or head off in the total wrong direction and have to hike all the way back down and find another one. The only good thing about the trip was the fact that I really wasn't in any hurry to get anywhere, the only limit to how long I could stay out there was the amount of food I carried and since I mostly only ate the stuff I had brought was once a day I would be able to stay out at least a couple of months if I wanted.

   I spent most days just wandering along, listening to the forest sounds and keeping my eye out for tracks and something to eat. I seldom made any kind of shelter at night preferring to just warp up in my sleeping bag and leaning against a tree. I figured the best chance I had of seeing a Big Foot would be at night and didn't want a fire to spoil what night vision I had. Within the first two weeks I saw pretty well every animal that lives in that part of the country including a black bear, but no sign of Big Foot, no tracks, no sounds, not even a piece of hair caught in a branch and I know what a bear does in the woods but if big Foot also does it he must be like a cat and buries everything when he's done.

   The end of the third week I spent hunkered down under a make shift shelter waiting out a rain storm. I had done a bad thing when hiking, ignored the gathering clouds thinking it was just going to cloud up and I'd have plenty of time to seek shelter before it started raining. I spent a miserable night which was my own fault and the next day just trying to get a fire going so i could warm up a little and at least have a cup of coffee. Every thing was still soaked by the time I got back on the trail. I had only gone about a mile from where I'd spent the night when I found the track.

      When I first saw the track I just thought "bear track" and almost kept walking but something about it just didn't look right. it was longer and wider than any bear tracks that I had seen and I was sure there were toe prints that had no claw marks. Now it would be easy to convince myself that I had found a Big Foot track just because I wanted to see one so bad, but to be truthful, I couldn't tell for sure what it was. The ground was really muddy along that stretch of trail and there were only about 5 tracks before they turned off the trail and went back out in the woods. Of the 5, only one was even half way clear. It's very possible that what I had found was just a smeared bear track. On the other hand, I couldn't find and front paw prints that I could recognize as tracks. Bears will sometimes walk on their back legs, I've seen that too many times and I know they can walk for quite a ways like that, but most of the time I've seen them doing it was because they were looking at something and tend to stand up to get a better look. I ended up spending the rest of the day and that night trying to find more sign or just standing there staring at the track. I even spent the night leaning against a tree where I could see the trail just in case something would come along that could explain the tracks. I'm sorry to say that when I finally gave up and headed north the next day I was no closer to an explanation that I had been when I first saw the track.

   Over the next three weeks I saw a lot of bear tracks even found a for sure Big Foot track, the only problem with it was what looked like the size 11 boot it was wearing. Even big footed people like to hunt or hike. I saw an awful lot of really pretty country and got myself in a couple of jams that I was lucky enough to get myself out of without dying. I managed to hike a little over a hundred miles, as the crow fly's and possibly twice that with all the wondering I did. I was never lost although I did get a little confused for about four days and finally ended up in Ashford, Or. which is more or less where I was headed to start with.

   To this day I still watch for Big Foot every time I head out in the woods. Never seen one so far, still not sure they exist but I do know that part of me really hopes they do and that someday, somewhere I may catch a glimpse of a face peeking at me around a tree..