The History of Bigfoot (and How to Find Them)
Author: Richard Porter | Illustration: Sierra Rozario
“Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare yourself for your encounter [with bigfoot]. You must learn to listen to the heartbeat of the true land that is distant and removed from the sense- and mind-numbing cities, towns, and villages.”
- Robert W. Morgan, Bigfoot Observer’s Field Manual
I’ve become an avid bigfoot armchair searcher. Think what you want.
I’m guessing that “armchair research” comprises 90% of bigfoot research. Who really wants to go hiking through the deep woods with no guarantee of finding anything? Better to stay home and read a book or go down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos dedicated to sasquatch info.
The problem with the bigfoot YouTube rabbit hole is that there’s no bottom to it. Indeed, the video algorithm seems to be skewed so that the longer you stay tuned to cryptozoology channels, the more extreme, bizarre, and conspiratorially-flavored the digital clips become. The backwaters of the internet harbor many kooky zealots. Most Forest Giant “footage” is fuzzy enough, and the pixelation of digital streaming doesn’t help much. People gonna see what they wanna see, you know?
That’s the thing. A possibly fictional creature with little scientific credibility is the sort of idea that can lead to endlessly branching hypotheses. In the end it’s a lot of speculation and a leap of faith in either direction.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I gleaned from my deep dive into the Internet.
What follows is a history about everyone’s favorite big hairy guy and your best bet for finding him in Seattle NorthCountry.
LOCAL BIGFOOT LORE
Local tribes have long told the tale of man-beasts who roam the mountains. Usually in native lore, sasquatches are part animal, part human— that is, they stand in the gap between reality and the magical spirit realm.
They are mentioned casually along with more conventionally-recognized animals like coyotes, ravens, and bears. No big deal.
Without going all Joseph Campbell on this topic, I’m left to conclude that the sasquatch serves a psychological need for bridging the gap between civilization and the wilderness. This is why, in stories told by miners, loggers, and other early settlers, bigfoot exists on the periphery of the known world— that’s why he and his hairy cohorts always roll into town from the wilds, howl, throw some stones, scare the wits out of villagers, then disappear back into the misty mountains. Forest giants are symbols of the otherness of nature, and man’s discomfort with the dangers of the physical realm.
But I digress. Wanna see a bigfoot? Here’s where to look in these parts.
BEST BETS FOR SQUATCH HUNTIN’
1. Index, WA - Espresso Chalet
This turnout spot on HWY 2 appears in the movie 1987 movie Harry and the Hendersons. Today it’s a roadside attraction commemorated with life-size bigfoot statues carved out of wood. A tiny silver Airstream trailer sells sasquatch memorabilia in the form of magnets, clothing, and tchotchkes. Even if you don’t glimpse a real-deal bigfoot you’re guaranteed a grandiose view of craggy-faced Mount Index. That’s worth a roadside stop.
2. Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Seattle NorthCountry is 70% unspoiled forest, most of which is the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It’s an area of primal beauty, the sort of off-the-grid locale that could conceivably obscure an eight-foot tall stinking hairy humanoid. Try the Big Four Ice Caves, Wallace Falls, or Bridal Veil Falls, all excellent hikes in remote areas of the national forest.
3. Mountain Loop Highway
The Mountain Loop Highway is deep. It’s out there, alright. Like, survivalist-in-a-bunker out there. This is a good place to lay low, especially if you’re reclusive quasi-mythical beast. Some of the most remote places are surprisingly accessible by vehicle plus a short hike. Why not go sasquatch hunting out in Bedal, Silverton, or Monte Cristo? These places are truly off the grid.
Whether bigfoot is a psychological symbol, a true man-beast, or a fun campfire story, one thing’s certain: he’s an enduring symbol of the Pacific Northwest. Come visit Seattle NorthCountry and see if you can catch a glimpse of this legendary creature. It’s a good excuse to go on a beautiful hike, anyway.
And if you do see the big fella, say “hello.”