Bigfoot Encounters

RAMBLER TO THE TIMES …. The trails to Bigfoot!
By VANCE ORCHARD , Walla Walla, Washington

Many trails can lead to Bigfoot

And, to he/she who seeks the critter, that might mean getting off the beaten path, so to speak!

A new recruit to the contingent which hopes to find and nail down one of the elusive creatures, Ron Douglas of Dayton, is learning that whereof we speak: the trails one can find oneself upon as the search goes on. Douglas who has declared himself an eager and earnest seeker of the big, man-like creature which has been spotted on several occasions in this area, has been eyeballing the terrain.

Or, as he wrote the other day: “I haven’t seen a Bigfoot yet, but night before last I was up on Robinette Mountain with my spotting ‘scope, looking over onto Newby Mountain. I saw a seven-point bull elk out there on the sunny side hill … watched him for a half hour or more… this was around 5 in the evening. I was surprised to see he hadn’t shed his antlers yet and he really had a set of them!”

Yes, being on the lookout for a Bigfoot and one can find oneself admiring a bull elk or maybe a wandering bear with a couple of cubs … those side roads to what you’re looking for!

When Douglas checked in the other day his letter included a “goodie” I just have to relay to the readers of these lines. His offering of it demonstrated another of those “side roads” I have been talking about. It’s a side road which comes not from the out of doors searching but the other kind, looking for information in a library’s archives, say, and stumbling onto something of equal interest.

Douglas told me a friend, Kip Derringer, had been scanning an old Dayton newspaper, “The Columbia Chronicle,” for Feb. 1, 1902, and had run across a Bigfoot story while looking for something else…there’s that side road.

“He knew I’d been talking about Bigfoot and he had read the recent story in The Times, so ran me off a copy,” Douglas said. And, here it is:

Eight Feet High, Carries a Club and Yells Like a Comanche

Salt Lake, Utah, 27 Jan. 1902 --- According to the Pocatello, Idaho, correspondent of the Deseret News, the residents of the little town of Chesterfield, located in an isolated portion of Bannock County, Idaho, are greatly excited over the appearance in that vicinity of an eight-foot, hair-covered human monster. He was first seen on January 14, when he appeared among a party of young people who were skating on the Pointneuf River, near John Gooch’s ranch. The creature showed fight and flourished a large club and uttering a series of yells started to attack the skaters, who managed to reach their wagons and got away in safety. Measurements of the tracks showed the creature’s feet to be 22 inches long and seven inches broad, with the imprint of only four toes. Stockmen reported having seen similar tracks along the range west of the river. The people in the neighborhood, feeling unsafe while the creature is at large, have sent 20 men on its trail to effect its capture.

This 1902 story is as old as that from 1900 which was about a close-up sighting of a Bigfoot at Huntsville, a small town half way between Waitsburg and Dayton, Washington. A lone fir tree still stands alongside the highway where the house of the family stood for many years. In this report, a girl went out the back door to go out and tend the family garden when she saw the Bigfoot at the garden gate with a club not over 100 feet distant. She turned and bolted back indoors; the Bigfoot likewise scampering off into the nearby Blue Mountains foothills.

Douglas is a new seeker of the Bigfoot around here, but he has already turned up some interesting anecdotal material. And, if he continues to scope the hillsides of an evening, I’d have to bet he will turn up with some Bigfoot rewards.

A Bigfoot Puzzler?
By Vance Orchard, Walla Walla, Washington

WALLA WALLA --- It sort of rang my Bigfoot bell the other day when I read a letter from Ron Douglas of nearby Dayton who enclosed a very interesting item when he reported his decision to join the ranks of Sasquatch seekers.

In his recent letter, Douglas mentioned that he intends to spend some time in the areas where most sightings of bigfoot have been reported, but I had to assume where he meant as he didn’t specify. I’d have to guess it is territory pretty familiar to Douglas, a guy who has been over much of the nearby Blue Mountains, as a youth and later into his adult years.

The Blues became quite familiar to Douglas, more so as he assisted his father, the late George Douglas, to cowboy a herd of cattle ranging in the hills from the Tucannon River to the South Fork Touchet. They had five camps throughout that territory, for the necessary overnight stops. His first experience of this kind was the summer of 1943.

“It was a glorious summer for me,” he noted. “I was only nine years old.” Douglas was to spend four more such summers with his father before death claimed the elder Douglas in 1960.

Douglas says he has been “sorta caught up in the bigfoot thing” for some time but is especially eager to devote more time to an earnest search. With that determination came the recent decision to buy a camera to “have along just in case….”

“It kind of gets in your blood,” he opined.

I would have to say Ron Douglas seems perfectly adapted to getting up in the Blue Mountains for a serious hunt for a bigfoot. And, a lot of us are wishing him nothing but the best of luck to go with the rest of it.

But, back to that bell-ringing when I read Douglas’ letter.

A big argument … some will say, the only one … used by skeptics of the bigfoot issue is the lack of any bones of the creature.

“If such a thing exists, how come nobody has ever found any bones?” I’ve heard asked time and again and likely will continue to hear.

Maybe the truth is that we have had the evidence now and then but it has slipped through the cracks. Another suggestion of this crack-slippage came to light in the letter from Douglas. It was a reminder of something similar which I reported many years ago while doing roving reporter duty for the UB.

In his letter, Douglas tells of finding some ancient wheat which, although said to be two hundred years old but germinated when he planted them. That story filled most of the single-type written page he sent me, but the bigfoot bell rang when I read of another item he found on his trip to the Moses Lake area several years ago. Moses Lake is in Washington. In his search for irrigation pipe he called on an elderly man who told him a highly intriguing story while the pipe transaction was underway.

“My nephew,” said the old fellow, “was digging around in a cliff-dweller cave in New Mexico when he came upon an old worn moccasin measuring 22 inches in length. Soon afterward, he found the skull (apparently of a human) which measured 17 inches from the fore part of the face to the back of the head.”

Douglas’ story had only one more sentence about this remarkable find in a New Mexico cavern.

“”The old fellow said he was down in New Mexico to visit the nephew and took the lower jaw bone from this skull and put it up astraddle of his own face and he could still put a finger between it and his cheek on either side.”

Now, that is a whopper of a jawbone, indicating a real whopper of a human!

And, so it was with this giant of a jawbone included in a collection of arrowheads I encountered on a visit to Boardman, Oregon, in 1966. Among his collection of items fund along the Columbia River’s shoreline near his home the resident showed me three jawbones, two of normal size but in the middle was this huge one, dwarfing the normal-sized pair. Some who had seen his collection told the man the jaw must have come from a human about eight or nine feet tall.

Were the New Mexico cave skull and the Boardman, Oregon jaw bones from a Bigfoot or just a couple of outlandishly huge humans?

In any case how come thee haven’t been put in a museum and catalogued for scientific study … study which might answer the skeptics?

The answer I have for this self-posed question is that the skull and the jawbone have “just slipped through the cracks.”

In my collection of stories about the Bigfoot story are one or two about huge human-like jaws and teeth having been turned over to museums only to have gotten lost in the maze some museums find themselves in.

…. In Quest of Bigfoot

By Vance Orchard

WALLA WALLA --- When we recently presented the program for Quest, the Walla Walla Community College project, it was to cover ground once over lightly to some but for most of those present, better knowledge of the Bigfoot matter … at least locally.

For me, it was a golden opportunity to utilize some local testimonial to sort of “bolster” what I have been reporting for so many years around here!

The program further enabled me to present evidence of what some people of science have been doing in an attempt to unravel the puzzle of this “problem.”

In all, it should have been a good program. Added to this year’s current Quest agenda by its director, Nancy Kress, it turned out she had to miss sit, although she confided she had been anticipating seeing/hearing what I might have to say in defense of the anomaly.

So, it was that my opening remarks were to refute the notion I was on hand to “defend” anything. After all, ever since 1966 … when a bike rider came to the UB newsroom to tell of his seeing some huge footprints in the Mill Creek Road … I have been doing just that, no more. Although, in the process I got my interest whetted and started collecting newspaper clippings and other information about the Bigfoot/Sasquatch thing.

But, retaining an open mind on it all along … after all, newspaper reporters are supposed to be objective in their profession are they not?

So, opening remarks for the fair-sized crowd on hand for the Quest program were to the extent I have heard of the subject, gathered since 1966 from the various corners of the Walla Walla Country. Much of what I had to say is found within the covers of my two Bigfoot books by the way (“Bigfoot of the Blues” and “The Walla Walla Bigfoot”).

Two friends came from the audience, though, to provide first-hand accounts of their Bigfoot-related experience, each of which are noted in the second book. Each was pretty “local” but the first was real close to home … right behind the community college where the program was going on. Harley Michaelis and his partner of the walk on the Rooks Park path experienced something neither will forget. Here was what he had to say of the mid-December, 2000 Bigfoot-related sighting as they struck off down the path, covered with some three to four inches of new snow:

“Nearing the wood bridge by Rooks Park, we first noticed the large foot prints, not on the paved path, but adjacent to it on the side near the creek. They were especially prominent a couple of hundred yards from the bridge where the ground was smooth and flat. On the path and sometimes off it on the side, there were many prints from boots and other human footwear. The other prints we saw were large biped foot prints, heading up the creek, heavily compressed with clear impressions of big toes. I could feel the hairs on my neck raising.

“This was really spooky and something totally out of the ordinary!

“There were two sets of prints, side-by-side. The larger tracks appeared to be 18-20 inches long, spaced about four and a half feet apart. Adjacent, were smaller, rounder tracks about ten inches long, spaced about two feet or so apart, also with clear toe impressions.

“The tracks, some 2,000 of them went for eight-tenths of a mile between the steel bridge to the wood bridge. There were none on either bridge, where people had trampled on Thursday and where snow had fallen between the cracks. What we saw would have to have been made between Thursday night and Friday morning when it was very cold out.

“All the tracks were made to the side of the paved path, in a very even-strided, steady pattern, as though made by something out for a deliberate walk. Friday, the tracks were fresh and intact. We went over the wood bridge to see what we could see, but the road was messed up from vehicles involved in work at the dam.

“That’s what we saw. No critters … no hair, no smells, no droppings … but for quite a while (after that) we walked the path with trepidation when passing the more wooded sections.

“What we assumed was that, overnight, between Thursday and Friday, an adult and child Bigfoots had come down the road on the south side, walked over the steel bridge and headed back to where they had come from.

“After that, we also kept a pretty good eye out and occasionally thereafter would see some tree limbs three to four inches in diameter, strewn along the path, apparently forcefully ripped from trees, and we wondered if a Bigfoot in a rage might have passed by.”

Twisted and broken tree limbs have long been found in the woods like this and speculation has been that it is a territory-marking procedure, familiar to many animals.

Michaelis closed his impressive story with these words: “And, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

While no bigfoot was present for this story, plenty of evidence was there of same!

Checking out the Michaelis report, local bigfoot investigator Brian Smith of Walla Walla, toured the Rooks path area extensively, finding more footprints on the other side of Mill Creek from where Michaelis had seen them.

My other “backup” presenter for Quest concerned the report I had in a February from Brian Long, then a bachelor living in a small house on the banks of the Tucannon River in Starbuck, Washington. The little house was heated by a wood stove in the middle of the house. It was 4:30 a.m. when he stepped outside to the woodpile for an armload of wood when he had one of the most un-nerving experiences of his life, he has told me.

“A brief account of what I saw when I stepped out to get some wood,” Brian told the Quest crowd, “was a very large, bipedal creature standing upright under the spruce tree looking through my dining room window. It had arms about the size of my waist. Its hair was two to three inches long and a reddish brown in color, with a frosting of silver. I was close enough to see individual hairs.

“No sounds were made before I ran back inside the house and slammed the door and there was no movement.

“I don’t know when it left, because it was quite a while before I looked out the dining room window where it was standing…I just sat in the front room on the couch, shaking uncontrollably.”

Long said to me later, that sometimes he has seen something turn up after he had given it a lot of concentration and he says this is what happened that early February morning. He had been giving the subject of Bigfoot a lot of concentration.

“I always thought it all was pretty coincidental, but it sure was frightening when a Sasquatch showed up!

Another friend of mine and long-time tracker, Bill Laughery of Dayton (now living in West Richland) later came to Starbuck and investigated the incident, locating a few tracks around Long’s house, although faint due to melting of snow.

Articles copyright Vance Orchard, Walla Walla, WA.

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