The Giant Hairy Beast is out There...
By Mark Hume
"Oh, they exist all right. I'm convinced of that," says Ken Kristian,
Mr. Kristian is one of the founders of a new organization in British Columbia, West Coast Sasquatch, which is working with an international group known as the Sasquatch Research Initiative in an attempt to finally prove that the apelike animals are real.
"Somebody, somewhere is going to get a lucky break one day and prove sasquatch exist," Mr. Kristian said. "I hope it's us."
Using devices that amplify sound, night-vision goggles, infrared cameras and a detailed analysis of sighting reports to identify behavioural patterns, the researchers are hoping to be able to finally gather hard evidence that the sasquatch is more than myth.
Many before have tried and failed.
Over the decades, sasquatch hunters have managed to collect an untold number of big, lumpy plaster casts of footprints. They have made scratchy recordings of eerie sounds echoing through dark woods and have documented hundreds of alleged human encounters, dating back to the early 1900s, most of which have left the witnesses confused, terrified or both.
Although some serious researchers have spent their lives trying to prove that the sasquatch is out there, somewhere, nobody has ever come up with irrefutable proof.
No bones. No bodies. No definitive DNA from hair samples. As far as science is concerned, the sasquatch is about as real as the bogeyman.
Over the years a number of hoaxes, including men in monkey suits and others stamping through the bush with plywood cutouts of oversize feet, have overshadowed the credible encounters. And with the deaths in recent years of legendary sasquatch hunters such as Rene Dahinden, the world's best-known sasquatch researcher and Bob Titmus, who spent four decades trying to track the elusive creature, the hunt has lost momentum.
Now, the new wave of sasquatch hunters is reviving the effort.
Mr. Kristian knows about all the failures of the past but he still thinks he and his colleagues at West Coast Sasquatch -- Gerry Matthews, Sebastian Wang and Thomas Steenburg -- might succeed where others didn't.
"We'll use a lot of different approaches," he said. "A lot of the old
guys had set ideas about what a sasquatch is and what it does. We've got
some new ideas. . . . I think there are certain patterns to their
Mr. Kristian, who said he didn't want to discuss his theories in detail for fear others might try to get the jump on him, believes he has identified some areas in British Columbia where sasquatch go in the winter to feed.
He has found footprints and recently got a tape of sasquatch calls recorded by a retired couple who, frightened out of their wits by odd howling in the woods, put their video camera outside the back door on a garbage can.
"It's the first sound recording of a sasquatch call ever made in B.C.,"Mr. Kristian said.
The sound they got, while barely discernible in the static hiss, is a distant whooping noise that doesn't sound like anything human.
"I think it's the real thing," said Mr. Kristian, who in the past has interviewed campers who've heard a similar sound.
He has posted the sound and a wealth of other material, including accounts from those who say they have seen a sasquatch, on the Web at: http://www.westcoast-sasquatch.com. One of those who gave a report is Brad Hay, who became a true believer during a prospecting trip a few summers ago. In a rugged area known as Spindle Creek, in the Lower Mainland, he had a close encounter with a large, hairy creature that made sounds "like something played through a tape recorder in reverse."
In an interview, Mr. Hay said he and a friend were hiking along a creek, in an area without roads northeast of Vancouver, when they saw the animal stooped over a pool, apparently scooping salmon fry out of the water to eat.
"I thought it was a raggedy old bear at first. But when it stood up I thought, holy crap. Then it started making this sound and chills just ran through me. It freaked the hell out of us."
Mr. Hay said he and his friend ran one way and the creature, which they believe was a sasquatch, ran the other.
Asked whether he could have seen a bear standing on its hind legs, he insisted: "Oh no. This was no bear. . . . It had hands."
He described the animal as being very muscular and between six and seven feet (about two metres) in height. It ran upright on its hind legs in a "quick jaunt" and gave off a smell that nearly choked them. (A strong, pungent smell is so closely associated with sasquatch sightings that in some places the mythological creatures are called skunk apes.) Mr. Hay said that when they got back to their boat they looked at each other in disbelief for a few moments.
"I said to him, "I don't know what you think you saw, but I know what I saw, Mr. Hay recalled. "We discussed whether we should report it or not. We were afraid people would think we were crazy."
Mr. Hay is certain he saw a sasquatch. "I really don't care what people think," he added. "I saw what I saw. And I can tell you, I'll never go back in there without a gun."
The sasquatch myth, which can be traced to oral legends among native tribes in the Pacific Northwest, persists largely because of incidental reports like Mr. Hay's.
Mr. Kristian said that while many reports are suspect, Mr. Hay's account has the ring of truth to it.
"This is pretty exciting. He's a guy that knows the bush and he's not going to see a black bear and mistake it for a sasquatch."This weekend, Mr. Kristian and his partners from West Coast Sasquatch will be out along the Harrison River, hoping to see, or hear, a sasquatch. "Hopefully, if we encounter something, we can get it on film and prove it," Mr. Kristian said.
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