TRACKING THE SASQUATCH
By The late BARBARA WASSON (1927-1998)
Barbara Wasson Butler, using the name Barbara Wasson, was an insightful Bigfool investigator. She lived in Bend, Oregon, and investigated cases throughout the Pacific Northwest. Wasson received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California-Berkeley in 1948, and her master's in psychology from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1962. She spent her professional career in clinical work in Missouri and Oregon. For years she maintained a private practice as a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists, but in her spare time, she pursued Bigfoot passionately. Wasson's initial book was the first to detail her thoughts on the researchers as well as the cryptids being researched. She was known for her pointed criticism of some fellow members of the Bigfoot community, whose disagreements prevented, in Wasson's judgment, the sort of teamwork essential to productive investigative efforts. Because of her clinical training and telling remarks, her book serves as one of the few examples of an attempt to analyze the field psychologically. She died on October 9, 1998, after a five-month battle with pancreatic cancer. - ---
To Track The Elusive Pacific Northwest Hominoid
By A Professional Tracker
This book takes no position on the existence or non-existence of the Sasquatch. Important in the assessment of this problem is the only meaningful, concrete evidence now available of this legendary creature, tracks. In photographs and casts of the tracks, much can be lost in the transposition. The purpose of this book is to encourage expertise in tracking, for the evaluation of alleged Sasquatch tracks. Tracking skills are available to anyone walking in the woods. The only tools you need are your training and experience. These pages will start you on the trail of the Sasquatch.
A raging storm lashes the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island with supernatural fury. The forests are whipped with driving rain, cutting through leaves and soaking through hemlock, fir, spruce and cedar, inundating everything. Rocky points and ragged boulders cannot shield the land from the torrent. Lichens and huckleberry, salal, moss, and fiddlehead ferns, drenched with violence, withstand billowing surges in a wind-slashed world, bending and buckling to survive. The wildlife, as untamed as the storm, crouch beneath the vegetation. They dig in, push against shields, plunge through lush, wet-packed forest flora, heavy with fallen conifers. Raccoon, mink, grouse and squirrel seek shelter. Cougar, bear, and marten, overpowered, cower or hide. From pebbled beaches geese and gulls retreat, fish and mussels go deep. Amid this maelstrom a figure like that of man, dark and soaked, and hairy, crouches inside a rocky cave, partly dry in the deep recesses. Has Sasquatch survived here ....
When the storm abates, the sun attempts to warm the land. Soaking rain forests steam as fog squeezes into vast valleys from tide zones, only to dissipate in alpine meadows and tundra in coastal mountains. Through red cedar of immense diameter, hundreds of years and a hundred feet, sunlight streaks gently to the canopy. Tender fiddlehead fronds right themselves. The pungent odor of decay permeates the heavy, moist air. Any creature that moves leaves little to note its passage, bur for the trample of the ground greens, which soon stand upright again.
Studies of old coast Indian tribes, or wild men of Vancouver Island, reputed them to be peaceful, intelligent Indians. Yet it takes very little to make a legend. Experiences of humans in the darkest forests stimulate imagination, of creatures on two legs like man, with fangs and hairy bristles, long arms with curved claws, with shouts which terrorize, blows which render a man into a thousand pieces. Reports were that wild men with long, matted hair ran like deer through the seemingly impenetrable tangle of undergrowth, pursuit being utterly impossible. Shots, which hit these creatures, were to no avail. Along shorelines, unearthly howling was declared to emanate from these two-legged creatures. The wild men dug for clams, and left gigantic tracks in the wet sand. Indian villages depopulated. No one was safe.
Confusing is the blur between Indian mythology and reality. Belief in giants is a very old one, although in certain areas special differences existed in the habits of these giants, they all had consistent commonalities of description and behavior. Folklorists felt the wild man to be a sanction on behavior, as wandering, truancy, and cannibalism, even promiscuity; The Bella Coola, Flatheads, Kwakiutls, Salish, Washo, Wintu, and the northern Paiute, all presented prolific stories of a two-legged, hairy wild man. The name Sasquatch originated from the Fraser River Valley in Canada. Indian and white reality can perceive the Sasquatch in different proportions. What is reality for one may not be reality for the other.
Leaving the mystic aura of the Sasquatch, we concentrate on the ground, to investigate the evidence from this unknown, large footed, hairy beast of the forests. In order to evaluate the long-standing, complex issue of the reality of the Sasquatch, the most concrete evidence we have are tracks. At times they can be difficult to read, but understanding their mechanics, the cues the ground reveals, gives you a tremendous amount of information about the maker. From human tracks, it is often possible to tell the sex, emotional state, physical, behavioral, and personality details, or if the subject is elderly. Some of these can also be ascertained for wildlife. The age of tracks can also be established. This knowledge can be transferred to other tracks perceived as those from a Sasquatch.
In order to learn this, we first need to know something about walking. As a two-legged human takes a first step, he places the heel of his foot upon the ground first, his forward movement gradually dispersing weight upon that foot. His weight is placed on the heel first, then the outer center area (humans have arches in their feet, making the inside center higher than the outside), and then to the ball of the foot on the inside. As the weight shifts to the ball, the human's weight shifts forward in gradual progression over this foot, and then the heel lifts off the ground. The last point of the weight on the foot is the big toe. In this process, the greatest pressures on the ground are from the heel and the toe areas, and these are reflected in the track as deeper impressions. When tracks disintegrate, the areas of deepest pressure remain longest, and a human can be tracked by only the remaining heel or toe impressions. Each individual has his own characteristic track pattern (due to a host of variables, as back problems or age, leg length, build, etc.) with differing pitches, the angle the toes point outward, stride lengths, straddles, normal walking speeds, and positions at which the heel drags.
Strides, the forward distance between a right and a left track, are measured from the heel of the first track, to the heel of the next track. You want to find that next track, from the opposite side of the body, as some of the time the ground is difficult to read, and establishing a chain of evidence for documentation is necessary. A step by step tracking formula is essential in the learning process, in order to discover what cues are offered by difficult ground. By studying the difficult tracks, you will more easily pick up the trail when the ground or weather variables have blurred the tracks. Practice in this will reward you on the trail in the future by reducing frustration and increasing speed in tracking.
Straddle, the lateral distance between the left and right foot, or the trail width, the distance encompassing the feet in the measurement, changes as speed of the animal varies. The faster the movement of the creature, the narrower the straddle becomes. The disturbance of the ground is also an indicator of speed. The faster the movement, the greater the disturbance of the ground. Soft or hard, wet or dry ground, clay or sandy soil all have a bearing on this in that they respond to pressure differently. Great speed will show fewer disturbances on hard ground, but movement will still give cues.
Movement in the track is discussed in terms of pressure ridges. As the weight of the foot moves across the ground, exerting pressure, it pushes-the dirt behind into a ridge as the toes push back against the earth in their forward move. From the ball of the foot, another flat, wide ridge is formed, an expression of the push from that part of the foot. There could even be two ridges if the speed is fast enough, and the ground receptive. Differing soils will react differently, modified by their dry or wet condition. The depth and sidewalls of the track, and the surrounding cracks in the soil change with all these varying conditions.
Speed shows in the track. With fast speed, the foot causes an explosion of dirt outside of the track due to the pressure applied upon the ground. Globules of dirt blow around the track, and the direction of travel is evident by these globules being dragged forward of the track. Thus when a trail seems to end, the globules of dirt indicate the next track. Knowledge of the normal stride of the individual you are tracking indicates the distance to look for the next track, should the track not stand out readily. With little speed, a track may not reflect much sign of movement, especially in harder ground.
Sandy soil disintegrates considerably faster than clay soil. It is loose in composition, and clay soil is very dense. Given the same weather conditions, a track in sand will disappear or become indefinable in a day compared to a track in clay in months. Aging tracks is not precisely quantifiable. It is a skill developed by years of experience studying tracks in all kinds of soils, wind, heat, and moisture conditions, in all seasons and temperatures. Tracks must be observed after several hours, a day, several days, and weeks, in all these conditions. This process over a period of years will make you a good tracker. Knowing the weather conditions in the area for the preceding week is necessary in order to assess tracks for their age. You should know how that particular soil reacts in that weather. Wind can erase tracks very quickly, and because of this, fresh tracks an hour old may look days old. Different environments produce different results, as in the differences between lush rain forests and dry desert flats. Most trackers are experts in one environmental science
Your goal, however, may not be to be an expert tracker. Knowing what is involved in tracking and aging track will make you an informed and cautious observer. There are certain points you will want to know when finding tracks which appear to be those from a hominoid larger than man. These are the stride, straddle, and movement in the track. Find each and every track, then you will be certain that you are following the trail exactly. Measure the strides between a number of tracks to establish what the normal walking stride is, so when the ground is hard to read, you will know about where to look for the next track. Use of a tracking stick (a dowel is good) with movable rubber washers to measure the stride, straddle and the length of the foot, to assist your concentration as you tire.
Reading vegetation sign is important, as living creatures walk on all kinds of vegetation. Moisture conditions will right vegetation, unless it is pressure from very heavy rain or snow. The taller the grass, the longer it will take to right, due to weight and gravity. The direction the grass lies after being stepped upon indicates the direction of travel. Freshness of broken limbs can be evaluated by their lighter color, before dust and weather darken them. Movement through brush will take off dust and debris, and the lighter color will be noticeable.
Following the track for a long distance is important in verifying whether the tracks you are following are truly from an unknown hominoid, or a human. Clever faking has to end somewhere. A forest service employee I spoke with years ago informed me that in the 1960's he had followed large hominoid tracks for many miles in northern California, and when he left the trail, the line of tracks continued. Evaluation of the movement in the tracks can be made as to a natural, long stride, or a stretching to achieve a long stride. The ground will reveal the over-striding of a human simulating a long stride by the excessive depth of heel and toe imprints. A human faker cannot keep this up for long distances. Practice in different soils and differing weather conditions with your own tracks to learn those cues.
There are other important cues to notice in finding track. The track of a creature flattens the ground, creating a smooth surface. If the sun is on the far side of the track, it reflects from the flattened surface to create a shine, enabling a tracker to see the tracks easily. Even on cloudy days, keeping the track between you and the sun will assist you in seeing the tracks. Slight shadows highlight the visibility of tracks, as your mind is set to look for a certain shape.
In addition, a fresh track has a lighter, contrasting color than an older track, which appears the same color as surrounding ground, changed by the sun, wind, rain, dust, and the debris which forms in the track. Compare your own fresh track as a standard.
In snow, tracks that are old can look very fresh, but feeling the track may reveal a frozen base, over which even some melt from the sun may have loosened the top snow surface to make it appear fresh. Older snow has a grayer color, in contrast to the whiteness of fresh snow.
Recognizing wildlife tracks is important, for many tracks are superimposed upon each other, which might deceive the viewer. Sorting out the makers requires knowing what their tracks look like. It is necessary to establish that what you are seeing which appears to be a Sasquatch track, is not a combination of tracks with the configuration of a large hominoid. On the trail at a lake one summer in central Oregon I was astonished to see a Sasquatch track. I doubted it, but it set me back for a moment. In looking at the track I was able to ascertain that someone with a large tennis shoe had walked there the previous day, stepping on all but the heels of some deer tracks going in the opposite direction. The person had placed the toe of his foot so that the heels of the deer tracks made five 'toes' in just the right spots. Wind had smoothed the sole tread of the shoe, leaving the appearance of a barefoot track about fifteen inches long, weather making the combination appear as a unit. I have noticed that in poor ground, the heels of deer hooves can resemble cougar or bear toes. Tracking wildlife over a long period of time gives you the knowledge of various tracks, and you can recognize them from all angles. Tracking also teaches you about the behavior of the animal, in what ways the tracks are laid out on the ground as they move about in their normal ways.
Finding single Sasquatch tracks may not be quite the exception that it appears to be. Many single tracks are found, which are not even in as good a shape as the one I found at the lake. People get very excited about tracks if they cannot evaluate them from a tracker's perspective. I have seen photographs of 'Sasquatch' tracks, which, when turned upside down, clearly show the hoof markings of deer as the toes.
Many animal bounds in snow also make configurations, which appear to be a single track, especially as they age with weather. Some of them are seen only from the standpoint of the outer shapes, and rough shapes at that, and neglect to notice that the sole area is not totally flat, which it must be from the weight of a long, flat foot. When bounds in snow melt from the sun, they enlarge considerably, thus looking like a large, melted human-shaped track. I have found not only deer bounds but single deer tracks which appeared this way, where the deer had dragged its hooves in deep snow. A similar thing occurs in sand or deep mud, as weather erodes the details. Keep in mind that a human's track and a deer or elk's track, going up a sandy embankment, is not easy to distinguish except with careful scrutiny, as when a man goes up such a bank, only the ball of his foot registers in the soil. Tracking is not a simple skill. Bear tracks are the most problem. Their large toes are on the outside of the foot, as opposed to the inside of the foot on humans. The grizzly hind track ends in a point. Some Sasquatch track reports note this. Most important is that the grizzly toes are quite straight across the leading edge of the heel pad, and this is a common report of some Sasquatch tracks. If you take a ruler and place it below the big toe on a grizzly track and align it at the leading edge of the heel pad, you will find that all the toes are placed above the ruler. This is not true for the black bear, whose toes arch around the heel pad, and will show partially below the ruler. Toes are also closer together in the grizzly bear track than in the black bear's.
The black bear rear track shows an indentation in the instep area. Depending upon the suitability of the soil, this may not register. For the same reason, claw marks may not show. The grizzly track has no instep mark. The front tracks of bears are short, having an abbreviated heel pad compared to the rear foot track. In tracking a bear, the trail will clarify whether you are following a bear if you see the short front tracks interspersed with their long, hind tracks. To look at only one track and identify it as a Sasquatch track is inadequate. Rarely do tracks look so perfect in any species that an experienced tracker will not be thorough enough to track further to verify the first impression, even if he feels certain of the identity. A tracker should establish a sequence of tracks for validation.
Canine tracks, coyote, wolf, fox, show four toes in all tracks, front and rear, with claws showing most of the time, depending upon the condition and kind of soil they walk in. Feline tracks, bobcat, lynx, cougar, show four toes in all tracks, front and rear, with claws rarely showing. Weasel tracks, badger and wolverine; show five toes in all tracks, front and back, claws showing. In the wolverine the smaller toe may not mark, and it might be confused with a coyote or wolf track, although its heel pad differs.
Porcupines show four toes in the front tracks, and five toes in the rear tracks. Raccoon tracks show five toes in all tracks. Their front prints are short, their rear tracks long. Antelope, deer, and elk present similar tracks, elk being largest, and more rounded. Antelope have no dewclaws, the two marks behind the hooves being absent in their tracks. Deer tracks show dewclaws a lot of the time, with a fast gait or on soft ground, and eventually you will see dewclaws marking. As you spend time in the woods, the ground will reveal a world you did not know was there. When you know that world, unusual and unfamiliar tracks will shout out at you, and you will have a sound basis for your evaluation of them.
Although photographs of tracks are primarily inadequate in establishing the validity of the track maker, we can evaluate them, keeping in mind that they are taken out of the context of the immediate area, and the event, and are once removed from reality. This section refers to other literature in the field. In one Sasquatch book, deer tracks in Windy Point, Alberta, face a scooped out area the general oblong shape of a human foot, only much larger.(#l) Recognition of deer track, and that deer scrape the ground, is the obvious explanation. However, this photograph is given as evidence of a Sasquatch track, but the deer hooves are the 'toes'. This is clear when turning the photo.
Deer hooves are exceptionally clear in another purported Sasquatch photo taken in Skamania, Washington. (#2) It shows them at the top as toes and an area below, indefinable in shape, apparently supposed to be the heel area. However, it appears that between the toe and heel area the snow is not pressed down, as it would be in the center of a track from the weight of a creature. In this photo it it obvious that the snow was wet when the deer stepped there, and any weight from a foot of a Sasquatch would have marked in the center as well.
Next to the track photo just discussed, is a snow track from Bossburg, Washington, well known in Sasquatch circles. (#3) The snow appears to have been shallow enough to have broken to the ground below, which looks dark in the photo. The toes and the heel area are separated by light colored snow in between, appearing to be without pressure from any weight. The snow seems to have been wet enough for the creature to have sunk in, and make the same dark ground visible, as in the Skamania track. The toes in this photograph even look suspiciously like deer hooves where snow has fallen in the track after the hoof was removed. These Bossburg tracks were a dilemma to the Sasquatch buffs there for many reasons.
On Powder Mountain, north of Vancouver, B.C., we see a line of snow tracks alleged to be from a Sasquatch. (#4) Judging from this photograph alone, without taking into consideration any of the total event, we should evaluate what we see. Considering that the expected track from a hairy hominoid would be in great part like our human track, looking at these brings up immediate questions. Granted this photograph is not an excellent one. However, I see a break in each track, that is, not an oblong shape which we would expect, but a broken, askew shape. It reminds me of an jumping animal track, where the hind legs marked just off to the side of the front tracks, all feet marking close enough to each other to be grouped as 'one' track, particularly in melted snow. As we evaluate each photograph, continually keep in mind they are not always good representations of the ground. Lighting and position can play a role in their appearance. Photos from all angles are needed. This kind of evaluation is important to train your eye from a critical frame of reference.
Another photo of tracks seen in Estacada, Oregon shows more possibilities of being a Sasquatch track. (#5) The lower right track in deep snow has at least the general shape of a right foot. The only problem I see is that the straddle is practically negligible, and the snow is deep. We do not know its measurements, unless we speculate that the tracks beside the trail are from a human who was there to photograph the alleged Sasquatch tracks. The large tracks would have been made in different snow conditions, as they appear tremendously deeper than the man's tracks. The man's tracks show a definite wide straddle. Likely, he is not striding out to go somewhere, but going slowly, looking at the large tracks. The point is that for this creature to have had this narrow a trail width, he was able to navigate the snow depth well, and deep snow is difficult for most wildlife. Here, not being able to look at the track closely, it is still possible for these tracks to be a grouping of four feet in a bound, melted out to appear as large prints. The straight line of the trail is significant. It was either a bounding animal or an able, two-legged creature, which did not need the support of a wide stance in deep snow, and perhaps not be a wide-bodied creature.
In another line of snow tracks found at Deltox Marsh near Fremont, Wisconsin, noticeable is that these tracks have more of a trail width, giving us the possibility that the tracks were made by a wide-bodied animal. (#6) In the line of tracks, it appears that there could be the sequence of a right, then left, foot, natural positioning for a two-legged creature. It is not necessarily true, but from the position of the camera, it appears that it is unlikely a bounding animal, despite of the obvious indefinability of the tracks. One special photo shows the bottom of these tracks, but nothing in definable shape shows, although it cannot be ruled out as an oblong foot track.
A photograph of an alleged Sasquatch track shows that the ridge behind the toes looks very rigid and straight, almost unnatural. (#7) Neither the human nor the bear track in photos beside this show this kind of a ridge, but we do not know how different the soils were, or the speed of each creature, which could influence the foot's pressure on the ground.
Another track photo is at the site of the Bluff Creek filming, shown in soft soil, demonstrating very natural pressure ridges. (#8). The ridge behind the toes indicates natural movement. There is only a partial human shoe track for size reference. I have a copy of this same photo and spoke with the photographer, who said something living definitely made the tracks.
An alleged track in Manitoba appears to be a combination of an older and a fresher track from unidentifiable sources. (*9) The toes appear older than the rest of the track, showing the same coloration and rough age as the surrounding ground.
The flat length of the track shows a smooth surface of lighter color. These are some of the cues to look for.
A photograph of a Sasquatch track is shown taken in the Bluff Creek area.(#10) This is a very natural appearing track. Often if a creature's speed is slow, there will be no pressure ridges in the sole of the track. Here there is a natural appearing pressure ridge behind the toes, uneven, and globules of dirt have fallen into the track in a natural way.
Often there are reports of Sasquatch tracks with three
or four toes instead of the anticipated five. In one report there were tracks of three, four, and five toed tracks on the same trail, ostensibly referring to different individuals. (#11). Presumably this would be genetically impossible. The only other explanation is that the ground was being misread in that respect· Yet people report those discrepancies in all honesty. This photograph shows uniform coloration within and outside the definition of the track, indicating an old making, only a partially flattened surface, and three depressions of 'toes' widely separated. Turning the photo upside down allows the viewer to see the lengthwise separation of the track by a higher ridge of ground better. As the view is backward, a viewpoint few people use, unless backtracking, the mental set of a track with three toes is broken, and one can see the ground as separate disturbances. This is also clear using the right edge of the photograph as the bottom. Two of the ‘toes’ that are closest, even appear as the rear feet of a small ground squirrel, if taken in context with another depression, and looked at upside down. It is certainly not in any stretch of the imagination a track of a large human-shaped foot.
I am not going to discuss casts, as these are one step further removed from the original evidence, and observation is even more difficult, and quite speculative. Although good casts can be made, there is considerably more room for mistakes and deception, and conclusions should not be made from them alone. Photographs and cast comparisons of the same tracks might be interesting, no more.
12. Bigfoot, the Track Record; Western Bigfoot Society, Portland, Oregon Oct.'93, Vol.3.#10.
Tracks I was directed to in 1974 in the Reston area of Oregon had been covered for about ten days with plastic. (*l) There had been heavy rain preceding my visit, but there were two, clear tracks to see. They were not in sequence, being six feet apart, in a slow walk. The ground was deep mud, and the tracks reflected movement. There was a ridge of earth behind the five toe imprints, which were tapered at a slight angle from the largest toe down to the smallest toe. They measured eighteen inches long, and the ball of the foot measured six inches wide. The interesting aspect of the track cast showed two narrow protuberances (which would show as indentations into the ground) behind the fleshy area of the middle toe. These paralleled the direction of the foot and they reached to the ball of the foot. They appeared to be just like tendons stretched taut. This has never been reported in the literature to date. One cannot rule out that something had been lying beneath the ground, which made the cast impression, but I recollected nothing visible, which could have accounted for this. The depth of the track was an inch, and my tracks sank in slightly less than that. The ground around these tracks had been pressed by the pounding of the rain and weight of the snow cover during the time since their discovery, so the depth of the track might originally have been a little more.
In 1982, near Walla Walla, Washington, there were tracks alleged to be from a Sasquatch. They were eventually tracked by a border patrolman. The tracks went quite a distance, but eventually ended. In the area were horse tracks. The tracks, however clever, were obviously made by a human who finally got on a horse and left. A novice tracker, who by other cues cannot be certain whether the tracks are genuine, will need to track and backtrack the trail for verification, perhaps a long way.
In October of 1993 tracks were found in British Columbia, some of whose photographs I reviewed. The tracks were made in clay, but I was not able to talk to the person finding the tracks to establish anything about the ground other than the appearance in the black and white photos.
These photographs revealed some natural features. Movement was evident in the toe areas. A natural appearing ridge showed behind the toes. The stride seemed compatible with a large hominoid. There was an unexplained feature, also. On the outside of the instep area in two tracks (likely the same foot as identified by a numbering process) there was a lack of pressure. I would think that the weight of the creature would have to have rested on the ground more than revealed in these photos, given any differences a creature other than man might have. But clay is sticky, and can drag up in lumps to cover part of a track. The creature was not going rapidly, judging from the wide trail width.
Human strides beside the large tracks showed an inability to stride as far, considering the human boot tracks in the photos, assuming that they were striding out as far as possible in an effort to match the alleged Sasquatch stride. The tracks measured 15 inches in length and the stride from heel to next heel was between 50 to 56 inches. Variable stride would be natural, especially as these tracks went from harder ground across deep, wet clay. If the tracks were shorter in the wetter area, and longer on the hard ground, this would also be natural. Of course a human hoaxer would produce the same variability walking naturally. An experienced tracker hoaxing tracks would keep all natural features in mind as he worked with his deceit.
A Walk Along Bluff Creek
On October 20, 1967 an event occurred which is still discussed among Sasquatch aficionados. Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were in northern California to film a documentary on the Sasquatch. There had been many tracks reported in this area for years, seen by many people. Photographs and casts had been made of them, and Roger Patterson was totally absorbed and intrigued with the subject. He persuaded his friend to accompany him on this trip. They carried rifles on their horseback journey, but had decided they would not use them. At about 1:15 pm. Roger's horse, first in line, spooked and Roger slid off the horse, grabbing his camera bag before the horse ran off. Across the creek both men saw a large, hairy creature standing at the stream. At the sight of the men and horses, this creature moved away from them at an oblique angle. It had pendulous breasts, a sloped crest on the top of the head, and moved at a leisurely but purposeful gait, in a short while disappearing.
Roger and Bob tracked the Sasquatch in soft, sandy soil for a mile or so, along Bluff Creek, but decided to return to the site where they first saw the creature, to photograph the tracks. During the sighting, Roger had filmed the creature with a movie camera. Back at the original site, they measured the tracks, photographed and cast them. These and the film of the creature made national news, but no creature was ever found in flesh and blood, dead or alive, and the only 'evidence' is that which these two men presented for posterity. Scientists reviewed the film, and decided immediately that this had been a hoax. A thorough analysis has never been done. Interviews were done on newscasts, and other Sasquatch investigators outside of the scientific community continued for years to check out every aspect of the situation, the film, and the men. No one has ever come forward to say that they were the man in the fur suit. Roger is now dead. A Sasquatch Conference was held at the University of British Columbia in 1978, and folklorists lay Sasquatch buffs, and others in related fields had a weekend of exchange. (*l) At no time were tracks a focus as an evaluation tool.
To this date opinions are split on the reality of what Patterson and Gimlin saw or did on that October day in 1967. Books and analyses are still written, and reports still come in on tracks and sightings of this unknown creature. Our focus would be on the tracks made that day, but the strip of film, which Roger made of the tracks, is reported to have been lost. Casts from the film site were made from these particular tracks, but the major focus was on the movie film. One track photo taken at the sighting area a day or so later has already been discussed as being very natural in appearance. The gait of the creature on the film has appeared to some to be just like a man, to others to have an unusual walk which man cannot duplicate. The major point for a tracker is whether the creature walks naturally, whatever the gait. This is the first criterion in assessing the genuineness of tracks. Providing one takes the viewpoint that this Bluff Creek Sasquatch is striding out with grace and coordination, one would assume that the tracks would reflect this. Measurements of tracks and strides are all beyond the size for humans.
There are other photographs of tracks found in the Bluff Creek area. Dahinden's photograph in Bluff Creek shows a perfect track in soft soil, indicating a fifteen-inch track. (#2) This particular photo shows a bare minimum of movement, indicating a slow pace. It is a very natural appearing track.
There is a photograph of a line of tracks in the Bluff Creek area, which shows a very narrow straddle, and the right foot pitches out. (*3) The narrow straddle would indicate a fast pace were there other cues for fast movement as well. However, with this fifty-two inch stride (distance from one footprint to the next), the ground does not show prominent movement disturbance, which would indicate less than its maximum stride, certainly not a run. We do not know how hard the substrate was, but the photograph reveals soft dust on the surface. The photograph may not reflect all-important cues, of course.
When the storm on the Olympic Peninsula abates, the hairy, two-legged creature crouching against the wall of the rock cave stretches and moves out into the fog. He sniffs the air, and listens with ears attuned for survival. He is hungry, and moves in the quiet of the wet brush to find berries and slugs, or perhaps carrion. He has lived for many years in dense retreats of the forests, knowing that there are other two-legged creatures similar to him, about. They are no threat, not even a nuisance. He stays a flight distance away, equipped to hide and live where the hairless creatures cannot. His habits are like other wildlife, which are seldom seen. The forest vastness stretches out to nourish and protect him. In his genes are instincts and intelligence, which provide him a secrecy and way of life. Eventually his bones fall to the forest floor and are gnawed upon, disintegrate, and nourish the earth. A passing human may even have noticed one or two, and glance ahead at the trail, wondering what animal met his death, and how. As the rains blend his tracks into the earth, may his spirit rise above the fog.
The Sasquatch Creature
Reports of Sasquatch behavior have been primarily consistent with the behavior of a wild creature.
The Sasquatch is described as a very large, bi-pedal hominoid, of exceptionally heavy build, weighing at times well over 700 pounds. Height is often estimated up to eight feet. Heavy, well proportioned muscles propel a well coordinated creature, which appears to lean forward as it moves, its total body flexing in a relaxed, fluid manner.
Movement is described as well coordinated, with natural fluidity, but with some restriction of head movement, the shoulders moving more than a human in a head turn. The Sasquatch is reported as nomadic. Flight from humans is usual, with the exception of curious approaches at times. Tools or the use of fire are never observed, and infrequent rock throwing has been the only attempted interaction with humans.
The creature is described as entirely covered with long hair, except for the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. Its hair color is described from black to many shades of brown, reddish, gray, or, infrequently, white. The top back of its head rises to a crest, and is similar to the sagittal crest of the primates, combined with heavy jaws. Sasquatch faces are seen with heavy brows, deep-set eyes, thin lips, and flat noses. Eyes are rarely reported to reflect differing colors in the dark. Although not always mentioned, teeth and ears are described as being similar to humans. The neck is described as almost non-existent, reports indicating the head merging immediately into very wide shoulders. Arms are seen as proportionally longer than humans, with human-shaped hands with fingers and fingernails. Long legs appear bent in a walk, giving the impression of shorter legs than humans.
Sasquatch feet are in a human shape, but longer and wider, with five toes. Tracks may register fewer toes. Tracks vary in length from 11 to over 18 inches. The step length, the area between successive steps, is recorded as 40 to 60 inches. Some sightings are of a family group, but mainly they are seen singly. Sex is rarely reported, although mammary glands have been seen. Sometimes young are noticed. Sounds emanating from Sasquatch seem to be a high-pitched whistling or a whining, if reported at all. A bad smell has sometimes been reported. Food sources appear to be roots, leaves, berries, meat, and fish.
About the author
The author, Barbara Butler Wasson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1948 and her master’s degree in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1962. She spent her professional career in Clinical work in Missouri and Oregon. She was an Associate Member of the American Psychological Association and she had a private practice as a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She first became interested in the Sasquatch issue in 1966.
Barbara was also a professional wildlife and human tracker. At one time she offered workshops in tracking throughout the Northwest. Along with this book, she made a single video called "Tracks in the Wild." It is essentially an educational tracking video made at home and no Sasquatch prints are included in the many slide presentation of various animal tracks. Copies of it are available for student trackers or anyone with an interest in the late Barbara Wasson’s memorabilia. Wasson passed away from a form of cancer in 1998.
*Permission to upload this booklet on tracking was given to Bobbie Short by the late Barbara Wasson’s son, David Yeakel.
© Wasson, Barbara. Sasquatch Apparitions. Bend, Or. Private printing, 1979
© Wasson, Barbara.
Tracking the Sasquatch - How To Track The Elusive Pacific Northwest
Hominoid By A Professional Tracker, Bend Oregon, 1994,
© Hunter, Don; Dahinden, Rene. Sasquatch. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1973, pg.32+.
© Green, John. On the Track of the Sasquatch. Agassiz, British Columbia, 1971, pg.45.
© Green, John. Year of the Sasquatch, 1970 (track comparison sketches) pg 15