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The High Uintas and Manti-LaSal Mountains, Utah

Ron Mower, a 40-year-old construction worker and former speaker at the Vancouver, British Columbia Symposium, seems to attract Bigfoot. He claims to have seen the legendary apelike creature nine times in Utah between 1968 and 1990.

"At times, I think I've been singled out," said Mower, who will speak this weekend at the International Sasquatch Symposium in Vancouver, B.C. "Maybe I'm blessed to be able to have this happen. . . . People think you're crazy, but there's been a lot of activity." Mower's closest encounter with one of the creatures, he said, was some 30 feet away and witnessed by his entire family of six on a remote highway. The encounter occurred on a winter evening in 1990 when the Mowers suddenly stopped their truck at the top of Fairview Canyon, north of Orangeville, to avoid hitting something in the middle of the road. That "something" turned out to be a Bigfoot. The creature stood there — 30 to 40 feet away — for five minutes, clearly in the vehicle's headlights, Mower said. Mower is not alone. Thousands of people across North America and other parts of the world have reported seeing tall, hairy bipeds roaming about the hinterland this century. More than 100 Utah and southern Idaho sightings have been documented since the 1930s, according to Bigfoot researcher Ryan Layton of Layton. But Layton admits the rest of the research community may not be aware of the creature's apparent presence here. Utah is becoming more and more known as one of the states that has a bulk of the sightings, Layton said. Many observations, footprints, hair and fecal samples, and unearthly screams in the night have been attributed to Bigfoot. But no skulls or bones have been found, at least none generally accepted as belonging to Sasquatch. The creature has a reputation as a stealthy and elusive traveler. Mower definitely believes that this mysterious being is more than some gorilla-like animal running loose in the wilderness. He also believes Bigfoot to be very intelligent. "He, she or it are very perceptive," he said. Layton said the number of sightings Mower has reported is incredible, but feels Mower is more than just lucky. Layton believes Mower has been singled out by the creatures for some unknown reason. All of Mower's sightings have taken place in two basic areas - the High Uintas (south of Kings Peak) and the Manti-LaSal Mountains (about 25 miles from his Orangeville home).

Layton hopes to venture with Mower and professional photographer Larry Jones into those areas later this year. He said a former game warden in the Orangeville area saw plenty of Bigfoot evidence during his long career but didn't talk about it much for fear of ridicule. Mower is calm, conservative and factual when he talks about his Bigfoot experiences. He recently recounted his adventures to a dozen people gathered at a "Bigfoot party" in Liberty, Weber County. While all nine experiences have been startling for him, some were more frightening than others. Despite the fear associated with the sightings, Mower said the experiences always make him want to seek after the creature. It's a mixture of fright and curiosity. "I'm not afraid to go into the woods," he said. Mower hasn't seen a Sasquatch for seven years now. He attributes the lapse to various circumstances. His wife, Diane, died in January, and Mower spent less time in the mountains during her long battle with cancer. Mower, however, believes the creature has been nearby on several occasions and at least once came close to his home. In those instances, Mower's dog behaved the same way he did when the two encountered Bigfoot in the mountains. Mower lives in an Orangeville neighborhood near the foothills of the Manti-LaSal Mountains. Has Bigfoot followed him home? Mower thinks so, but isn't sure how. What's Mower's best advice for getting your own glimpse of Bigfoot? He recommends being very observant and listening to your feelings in the woods. "I believe some people may see Bigfoot and not recognize him," Mower said. "They shrug it off."