Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bigfoot

Brian

Still from the 1967 Patterson/Gimlin film.

I've been reading up recently on creatures rumored to exist but unconfirmed. Probably the most famous example of this in the United States is bigfoot.

I'm not a guy who believes everything I see on the X-Files, and I'm fairly skeptical of bigfoot stories. I try, however, not to be so skeptical that I ignore evidence. After all, the mountain gorilla and giant panda were once considered mythical beasts as well. The most compelling fact about bigfoot is that hundreds of people over centuries have reported first-hand encounters. Hundreds, possibly thousands. I'm not convinced one way or the other of the existence of bigfoot in any particular form, and I'm not sure if there really is a hairy hominid or an ape or another animal or a man or an imaginary figment or a psychological defect running around in the woods, but, to paraphrase Carl Jung on UFOs, this idea seems so important to some people that there's got to be something going on.

But whatever is going on, it remains fun to read about these eye-witness accounts. David Thompson was surveying near Jasper, Alberta, in 1811 when he came upon huge tracks. Albert Ostman, a random logger, reported that he was trekking through the northwest wilderness in 1924 when he was abducted by a bigfoot. His account is shocking in how believable and downright mundane it is up until bigfoot shows up. Then there's Fred Beck, who was camping with a group the same year in what came to be known as Ape Canyon on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens, and who tells that the group shot and killed a bigfoot. Their cabin was apparently subsequently attacked by a group of bigfeet. Ape Canyon was decimated in the eruption of 1980.

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