Screams in the Night - Page 2

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By legend or by fact, what they are seeing in the forest is a North American perennial, a phenomenon that has created a steady and devoted set of aficionados who insist that Bigfoot is real -- elusive and rarely seen, but real. The same kind of animal/man has been spotted in Asia, where he is known as the Yeti, but in the United States he is known by the more colloquial name "Bigfoot." For years, the study of Bigfoot has been pretty informal -- based on sightings or footprints, stories have crept into newspapers, and family letters have passed Bigfoot down through the generations. Few academic professionals -- anthropologists, zoologists, wildlife biologists -- have the time or inclination to make Bigfoot their life's work, and so the chore of cataloging the various Bigfoot incidents has fallen to lay people who are doing it out of curiosity and passion, squeezing it into their otherwise normal lives.

Over the past 40 years, there have been reports of as many as 5,000 sightings. Footprints allegedly made by the big mammal range from 10 or 12 inches long to more than 20 inches long -- hence the sobriquet, Bigfoot, said to have been coined by logging road crews and popularized by a writer for the old Humboldt Times in 1958.

This is what Bigfoot appears to be, by the various accounts: a big, hairy apelike mammal that walks on two feet. Bigfoot creatures (cognoscenti rarely use the plural "Bigfeet") are thought to range from 6 feet to 10 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 500 to 800 pounds. One study estimated Bigfoot weighs nearly one ton, but that, anthropologists say, is wild exaggeration.

Now, however, there is some consistency developing in the search for Bigfoot, particularly on the Internet.

For example, Moneymaker has helped create the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) and its inevitable Web site, that purports to have one of the largest geographic databases of sightings in the world.

"We get most of the reports that are coming out," Moneymaker said the other day. The organization has already cataloged and put on its Web site an incident last fall, when two men on a hunting trip (hunting animals, not Bigfoot) say they saw Bigfoot near Hayfork in Trinity County. They said he left tracks six inches wide and 20 inches long.

The BFRO database has sightings or other Bigfoot experiences from every state in the country save Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii and Rhode Island. What the sightings have in common is an enormous and powerful rush of emotion from the people reporting sudden encounters.

Consider this one, from an unnamed young woman who says she saw Bigfoot off a road between Oroville and Marysville:

"At the time, Kim and I were riding Appaloosas. My horse was a big horse. ... I'm a big kid. When I turned around in my saddle, I was eye to eye with it. It was about 25 to 30 yards away, in an English walnut orchard. It was covered in black hair. Thick, powerful legs and torso. Strong shoulders. Not really long arms. What I was drawn to, though, was the eyes. Like shining caramel brown. The eyes just held me there. The horse was going nuts, turning around and trying to buck. So I was busy keeping the horse in line. I knew, though, that if this thing wanted to kill me, it could have ... Its head had a slight cone shape to it. It was an animal of raw power.

"I will never forget the eyes and what it did. It finally turned around, gave me one more look and started to stride off ... it took big strides."

Bigfoot Sighting Screams Album The woman's encounter was similar to the one experienced by Trinie Inong, a 15-year-old sophomore at Hoopa Valley High School, in the town of Hoopa, deep in the Six Rivers National Forest east of Eureka.

In 1996, she said in an interview earlier this month, she and her cousin Elizabeth were near where Pecwan Creek runs into the Klamath River. It was at the time of her Yurok tribe's ceremonial jump dance, and as she and Elizabeth walked along the river, "We spotted Bigfoot, straight across from us, about 80 or a hundred feet away. He was tall, almost 9 feet, maybe, and his shoulders were hunched over."

"He walked like a big, hefty guy, and we were looking at him, and then, Oh my God! he stopped and looked at us. Elizabeth took off running. She was freaked out. I stood there and got another look to make sure we were seeing this correctly. My uncle said he was probably coming by to pay his respects."

Native American tribes have known about Bigfoot for centuries -- Sasquatch is simply another and welcome part of their culture.

"Everybody who grew up around here knows about Bigfoot," said Chris Peters, director of the Seventh Generation Fund, an Arcata nonprofit group that gives money to Native American activities. "The legend goes way back and has always been there. He is the one that hollers on the ridge and has lived in the back country since time immemorial.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Willow Creek - China Flat Museum is the acquisition, display and custodial care of objects representing the history and legacy of the Klamath-Trinity area of Northwestern California.

Its purpose is to publicly inform, educate and celebrate the area's rich cultural diversity and to also maintain, preserve and publicly display the Bigfoot and Sasquatch collection.