Hunt for Bigfoot near Trinity River
John Flinn, Chronicle Staff Writer - - Sunday, August 24, 2008
In 1958, not far from here, a man from Willow Creek discovered the first size-15 footprints in the mud. Wildlife biologists, scoop-hungry reporters, crypto zoologists, psychics, New Age shaman and even big-game hunters have been combing the wooded mountains ever since. They've turned up more footprints - lots and lots of footprints - and a few other intriguing bits of evidence, but no one has been able to produce definitive, unassailable proof that the creature exists.
Still, several communities claim Bigfoot as their native son - none with a louder voice than Willow Creek, a tiny town overlooking the
Why now? Willow Creek will be staging its annual Bigfoot Days celebration Saturday through Sept. 1, with a likely appearance by the big guy himself, or at least a guy in a really cool Bigfoot costume. One possible guest is a woman identified as "Bigfoot's baby mama" by the Weekly World News.
The back story: Stories of a big, apelike beast called Sasquatch circulated in the
Nine years later, two other men from Willow Creek, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, were searching in the same area and shot the famous home movie that depicts, depending on your point of view, either Bigfoot or a person in a cheesy Bigfoot costume. The 53-second clip has been analyzed nearly as thoroughly as the Zapruder film, and whatever your conclusion, there are dozens of "experts" who will back you up.
In the decades that followed, there have been recurrent whispers in Willow Creek of Bigfoot sightings. But 84-year-old Al Hodgson, retired owner of the town's variety store, says encounters are more common than is publicly known.
"If you say you've seen Bigfoot, people make fun
He's never encountered the big beast himself, but Hodgson has found several sets of footprints, which he preserved with plaster casts. They're now on display at the town's
Checking in: In a town where a funky 1950s motel used to be the best you could hope for, Coho Cottages offer handsomely luxe lodging at reasonable prices. Built by local rafting guides Marc and Londa Rowley on a bluff above the river, the large, stylish, brand-new freestanding cottages have screened-in porches with
Spend your day: Start your day shopping for delectable fruits and vegetables at Trinity River Farm, a '70s commune now being managed as a traditional farm by Molly O'Gorman, the founder's daughter. Then head over to the
Dining: There aren't a lot of choices in Willow Creek. Those staying at the Coho Cottages might want to barbecue. In town, the best place for lunch and dinner is Cinnabar Sam's, a convivial burger-and-steak joint with lots of whimsical bric-a-brac on the walls and ceiling.
Don't miss: The chance to buy a genuine replica Bigfoot plaster footprint at the
Don't bother: Looking for a country-style breakfast in downtown Willow Creek on weekdays. Curiously, none of the restaurants serves it. You can find breakfast, we're told, at the Bigfoot Golf & Country Club every day, and at Cinnabar Sam's on weekends.
Word to the wise: Many of those who've encountered Bigfoot say the creature stinks like rotting garbage. So don't just look with your eyes; use your nose, too.
If you go
From Arcata, north of
WHERE TO STAY
Coho Cottages, (800) 722-2223, www.cohocottages.com Spacious, modern, well-appointed cottages with screened porches run from $135 to $190 a night. One cabin is ADA-compliant.
]WHERE TO EAT
Cinnabar Sam's, on Highway 299 at the east end of town. Burgers for two with beers, $35. (530) 629-3437.
WHAT TO DO
Bigfoot Days run from Saturday to Sept. 1 in downtown Willow Creek, with a parade, live music, a disc golf tournament and appearances by various Bigfoot experts. Saturday is the big day.
Trinity River Farm, 2443 Highway 96, about 2 1/2 miles from downtown Willow Creek. (530) 629-3200, www.trinityriverfarm.com .
The Willow Creek-China Flat Bigfoot Museum (38949 Highway 299, 530-629-2653, www.bigfootcountry.net) is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May through October, and by appointment at other times. Admission is free.
Bigfoot Rafting Co., (800) 722-2223, www.bigfootrafting.com Full-day whitewater trips on the
Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 346-3482, www.redwoods.info
Willow Creek Chamber of Commerce, (800) 628-5156, www.willowcreekchamber.com.
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