Tracker Hot on the Trail of Bigfoot
Walla Walla, Washington Union Bulletin October 15, 1987 by Terry McConn
After thirty years of scouring mountains and valleys looking for bigfoot, tracker Rene Dahinden still isn’t totally convinced the legendary creature exists.
But since he’s devoting most of his life to the search, he quipped, “I hope I’m not wasting my time.”
The 57-year-old Richmond, British Columbia author and researcher believes he’s hot on the trail of bigfoot in the Walla Walla area. He’s come here for at least a month to search in the foothills and rugged terrain of the Blue Mountains because “people report lots of tracks here and they’re not any place else at the present time.”
Even though he first heard of bigfoot in early 1950’s and started searching for is in 1956, Dahinden has traveled extensively for about
“My life is organized around the sasquatch. This thing is not a hobby with me. Working as a lead pellet miner six months out of the year is
Speaking with an accent from his native Switzerland -- in language peppered with four- letter words -- Dahinden can talk for hours about his preoccupation with bigfoot. “It’s a big story, this search,” he said with pride. “The implications are so far-reaching – it’s mind-boggling.”
On October 20, 1967 in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California, the late Roger Patterson of Yakima, Washington captured a one-minute encounter with a hairy beast on 24 feet of 16-millimeter film.
“This is the key cord of the whole bigfoot thing,” he said. “I thought to myself – I’ll take this film, the people who made it and the footprints as my investigation and I set out to prove it’s a fake.”
After twenty years, he’s still trying. Dahinden said he used techniques of investigative reporters and put the film and its photographer through intense scrutiny.
Even after having acquired the rights to the film, he’s still talking to anyone who could disprove its authenticity.
“I’ve slowly come to the conclusion probably the film is real – the smoothness, animal grace and tremendous muscles of the creature… but I’m still not one hundred percent sure sasquatch exists,” he said. “I’ve never seen one and never found tracks on my own.”
But he continues the search because the mystery pervades his life and “I want proof for myself.”
If Bigfoot doesn’t exist, modern day reports of the creature probably stem from mythology, Dahinden said. “Indians must have brought the myths with them when they came from Siberia. Then colonists brought their own wild man traditions, the two intermingled and what you have today is sasquatch.
But on the other hand, Dahinden said myths could actually be historical evidence. That he said, added to the thousands of tracks found over much of North America, eyewitness accounts of the legendary beast and the Patterson film “clearly point in all probability there are sasquatches.” I say that very reluctantly. It’s hard to say “Yes they’re there,” unless you see them.”
He’s not disappointed his quest has been unsuccessful so far. But even though he loves what he’s doing, he said, “Sometimes I’ve almost thrown in the towel. You meet liars, con men and some rather odd people doing this.”
“Our dear-beloved Ph.D’s in universities don’t know a thing about bigfoot but they five opinions,” Dahinden said.” Here we have the Patterson movie which could possibly be a sasquatch and twenty years later it’s still ignored.
“If you’re a scientist you should say let’s investigate it – but they don’t. It’s taboo. It’s not acceptable. But yet they continue themselves to teach theory and speculation every day. I never read another book by an anthropologist. They are like trained seals.”
Dahinden said there have been fewer bigfoot sightings in the past five to seven years than there previously
In 1982, U.S. Forest Service Patrol rider Paul Freeman came face to face with what he says was a bigfoot about 25 miles southeast of Walla Walla near the top of Tiger Canyon. Dahinden said he’s studied that report and any skepticism he had about it is “melting away” because of the numerous independent discoveries of tracks in the same area.
His visit here in Walla Walla will gain national attention on the ABC-TV later this month. A crew from “Good Morning America” was in town this week to interview Dahinden and film the local area. The broadcast is tentatively scheduled for October 27 th. Dahinden hunts for bigfoot with two cameras – not a gun.
“For years I thought if I saw a sasquatch I would shoot it but I’ve changed my mind. In the U.S. there would e uproar so bad from conservationist and the public, right now I’m interested in taking photographs of it and reinforcing my views there probably are such creatures.
Dahinden loves his life.
“I have everything I want. I have an interest in something fascinating, freedom, and all the material things I want…what else is there of such fascination?
The biggest mystery there is in North America, maybe the world and I’m in the midst of it.”
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