Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Bigfoot: Real or a Figment of the Imagination?

harry and the hendersons

For decades stories of a bipedal, ape-like creature have been circling the globe and the Adirondacks is no exception.  Native Americans have talked about Sasquatch for hundreds of years. Often considered a West Coast phenomenon, sightings have also appeared all over the Adirondacks, from Saranac Lake in the north to a famous sightings in Whitehall. This creature has many names depending on geographical location of the sighting, but the most common names for this creature in North America are Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti and Skunk Ape.  The one commonality of sightings despite the location on the globe, is the fact that the sightings occurred in remote areas with a large amount of vegetation and that are not densely populated by humans.

The sightings all describe Bigfoot as very tall – 6-15’, covered in hair and bearing an apelike facial appearance and a nasty stench, hence the name skunk ape.  They are said to knock on trees as a warning and even throw small stones at humans who venture too close.  The accounts of vocalization vary from a roar like sound to varying pitched groans.  Witnesses observed these so-called humanoids crossing roads at night, striding furtively through forest and mountain terrain, or digging for and eating ground squirrels in rock piles. Some people have not actually seen bigfoot in person but claim to have casts of giant sized footprints and small tuffs of hair they believe was left by this animal.  Many people are leery to share their sightings of this creature out of fear of looking crazy or being questioned about their judgment and constant badgering of that they may have misidentified the sighting and actually saw a known creature such as a black bear.

As a Nature lover and resident of the Adirondacks for nearly 5 decades, I have not seen a creature that fits the description of those claiming to have spotted this wild man of sorts.   There are however, residents here in the mountains that do claim to have seen this creature and festivals were born in celebration of the elusive Bigfoot.  One such festival occurs in the town of Whitehall, where visitors are afforded the opportunity to share their sightings with others who have had similar experiences.

Native Americans are no stranger to Bigfoot.  On the Tule River Indian Reservation, a set of giant pictographs tells a 2,000-year-old story — the creation tale of the Yokut people and the gatekeeper of their spiritual world, a figure known as Hairy Man.  They believe when you see a Bigfoot, it’s not a good sign. It means he’s coming to take somebody who’s going to pass over to the other side. There’s even a Hairy Man song that women sing during a funeral, to make sure he does take that soul over.”

The Yokut are not the only tribe who speak of the Hairy Man.  There are stories of Bigfoot-like creatures in the oral tradition of dozens of North American tribes under an array of names — Sasquatch and Skookum among them — each giving different qualities to the creature. For the Yurok and Karuk, Bigfoot is just another member of the forest.

The Me-Wuk of the Yosemite area, Bigfoot is a boogeyman snatching children from their tribe and eating them. There’s even a place in the Stanislaus National Forest, Pinnacle Point Cave, where the tribe believes the Bigfoot consumed its victims.

The indigenous peoples of coastal British Columbia, share a similar legend of a cannibal named Dzunukwa, the wild woman of the woods, who was often depicted on totem poles whistling which is mentioned often in Bigfoot accounts.  Tribal members warn, ‘If you hear whistling at night, don’t go outside, because it is a Bigfoot trying to lure you out.”

Rachel Plummer was a white woman captured by a Comanche raiding party in Texas in 1836. Two years later, she was free and published an account of her time as a Comanche prisoner across the Southwest. Included was a detailed rundown of the animals of the prairie as shown to her by the Comanche, including prairie dogs, mountain sheep, elk, wolves, bears, and finally this: “Man-Tiger. The Indians say they have found several of them in the mountains. They describe them as being of the feature and make of a man. They are said to walk erect, and are 8 or 9 feet high.”

Whether one believes in the legend of Bigfoot or not, one must admit that if Bigfoot exists, the Adirondacks are an ideal location for the species. The Adirondacks is home to diverse wildlife and a large area of dense wilderness where animals can evade humans.   With 18,000 new species of plants and animals being discovered every year surely, it’s possible that an animal species we are not familiar with exists and has no will to have humans interfere with their lives.

Seth Breedlove, a well-known filmmaker, set out on a journey in the Adirondacks in search of evidence that the creature called Bigfoot, is in fact a living animal.  His series, On the Trail of Bigfoot, contains his findings.

One of my favorite fictional movies about Bigfoot is called, “Harry and the Hendersons” it is a heartfelt movie about a family who accidently hits a bigfoot with their car and their comical interactions when they bring it home.  The artwork for this article was created from Harry in this movie.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth the time to check it out!

If anyone has a story about a bigfoot sighting, I would love to hear it!


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Jackie Woodcock was born and lives in the Adirondack Mountains. She is an apiarist, lepidopterist, conservationist, teacher, writer, artist, and a co-owner of SkyLyfeADK. You can find her SkyLyfeADK on Instagram and Facebook.


15 Responses

  1. Rob Bick says:

    Good morning Jackie:

    No sightings, but some strange prints in the snow I cannot explain. I have a property on Lake Ozonia, and snowmobile/.cross country ski the area and have been for decades. Aside from wolf sightings, panther tracks (both very different than the coyote/bobcat/lynx prints the DEC claims) I have come across two instances of tracks I cannot explain, tracks that are much larger than my size 14 Sorel winter boot. Both exciting and mysterious

  2. Scott says:

    I think many people who have spent extensive time in the ADK backcountry have had some experiences that they can’t explain. I’ve seen and heard some things that are consistent with alleged Bigfoot encounters but can’t say for sure.

    Check out the 46 of 46 podcast, there are several alleged encounters in the October episodes.

    • Dan says:

      “Check out the 46 of 46 podcast, there are several alleged encounters in the October episodes.”

      Thanks, I’ll check this out. Meanwhile, some of the best I’ve heard is this guy:

      He started out with a hunting channel on YouTube, eventually shared his encounters and now takes reports from people all over the continent on both his YT channel and podcast. Most, but not all, are from hunters. Some are very chilling. A few have been from the Adirondacks and northern Vermont.

  3. Balian the Cat says:

    I, personally and without any specific judgement, think it fascinating that “we” bitterly debate science based topics like climate change, vaccination and land-use while blissfully defending resurrection and Bigfoot on this website.

    • ADKresident says:

      BTC, I, personally and without any specific judgement, think it is fascinating how you perceive science based topics discussed here that are often a subject of debate as being bitter, when obviously, there will be varying views.

      And Blissful? So, if ‘we’ are not in dissent with one another or have a shared belief or interest in a topic, other than Science, then it is considered to be blissful? From what I read on the article “He Still Moves Stones”, I do not recall anyone defending the resurrection, actually, it was the contrary, those replying wanting to refute it. And this article regarding Bigfoot, I see only simply pleasant exchanges and relayed tales for those who find it interesting!- mostly for enjoyment. Missing the bliss part.

      Kind of a polite jab towards those who are not in lock-step with ‘your’ thinking? Was it not? We really don’t need any more kill-joys, do we?

      • Balian the Cat says:

        Each of your fair points taken, ADK. I don’t recant, but would delete my comment if that option existed.

        • Quincy says:

          Balian: You are a logical thinker. Intelligent and measured. I’m with you. There are many mythologies, throughout history and pastimes. Babe Ruth points his bat at the far end of stadium, perceived by fans to be intentional and predictive. A city’s team wins the World Series or the Supper Bowl, and the fans celebrate by ransacking their own winning city.
          Burn-in beliefs vs logical analysis is a risk for our society.

  4. Steven Frederick says:

    Like the information and the subject

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Native Americans have talked about Sasquatch for hundreds of years. Often considered a West Coast phenomenon, sightings have also appeared all over the Adirondacks, from Saranac Lake in the north to a famous sightings in Whitehall…..”

    My dad got me into the paranormal when I was a young boy. He had all sorts of books on, UFO’s, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction, and generally unexplained phenomena; by authors such as Charles Fort, Frank Edwards, John G. Fuller, etc. Dad was a subscriber to ‘Fate’ Magazine from the 1950s up until some few years before he died on January 13,2020. I recall, as a boy, I used to pull books, and those magazines, from his shelves and read them with a burning curiosity, and would get all excited about the stories told by people from all walks of life, things which were unexplainable. To this day I have had a big interest in the mysteries of the unexplained, and that burning curiosity is with me yet. To think that there might be something more than the triviality we deal with on a daily basis….this has kept me wondering my whole life and gives me a sense of hope……that there is more!

    Though I am still fascinated by such to this day, these days I am a skeptic too; not in that none of these things exist, but in the stories people are sharing. Us humans have always had big imaginations and I truly believe that television and Hollywood, and all of the stuff fed to us on computers, has got people out of their wits… they’re not seeing things as they really are it’s all in their heads. I also believe we’re getting to the point where nothing is believable anymore thanks to all of the technology which can create any ‘thing’ it wants and make it look real (what they can do in Hollywood, your average person can now produce in his own home with the new technology); and of course when you have people who will believe any ‘thing’ which is thrown at them, then all is up for grabs whether it be actuality or a work of fiction (just look at our current elections), and before you know it….delusion!

    Aside from all of that, and the fact that there is hardly any concrete, provable evidence of Bigfoot, I keep an open mind on the matter. I do have my own Bigfoot story which I will share here if I haven’t already. I was up on Samson Mountain in the Catskills picking blueberries back in the mid 80s with my brother. We were coming down that mountain one day, my brother with his little girl Fawn over his shoulders. I was ahead of them maybe a hundred feet. It was a straight, wide dirt path with a good pitch going downhill, and not too far ahead the road t’ed off to the left and right. All of a sudden we both heard some shuffling ahead of us. We both looked ahead, me in my front position, my brother in the rear a hundred feet. My brother thought it was a deer which had just disappeared in the woods at the bottom of the hill, though he wasn’t really sure as it all happened and was done with in seconds. Me! I wasn’t sure. We both got only a very quick glance at it, as it is very common to oftentimes be looking down when on trails or dirt roads in the woods.

    What I thought I saw was a bear running on twos. The reason I thought this, was because when this animal went into the woods at the bottom of the hill, where the road turned left and right, I swore I saw it’s upper body and head high up in the shrubbery whereas I shouldn’t have seen such because those woods were all downhill past that road that t’ed off; it should have been out of sight not long after it went into those woods. In my mind I was convinced that what I saw was a bear running on two’s even though I knew bears don’t do that. So there was a big question mark with what I thought I saw, and my brother wasn’t so sure about anything as he was much further behind and we both got only quick glances. It was just one of those things.

    I never even thought of Bigfoot, only that I swore I thought I saw a bear running on twos from the brief glance I got at that animal way back then. The next day was a Sunday. How do I know? Because in the Sunday paper that next day there was a story about Bigfoot sightings up in that area where we were that had been reported for years. This is the only reason Bigfoot even came over my mind regards that event back then. Of course I can never prove anything but that is my Bigfoot story. A fleeting glimpse of what I thought to be a bear running on twos down in the Catskill woods nearly forty years ago.

  6. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Scott says: “I think many people who have spent extensive time in the ADK backcountry have had some experiences that they can’t explain.”

    How about some of the many people that went missing in the Adirondacks never to be found! How can we ever know what really happened other than the usual thinking that they must have got lost in those woods which isn’t hard to do….so we leave it at that but we’ll never know! There are people that have disappeared in the Green Mountains east of Bennington since the 1940s or 50s, went missing and to this day never found. Some of these cases are very unexplainable, especially the case of one woman who was not far from her camp in the woods and who knew those woods like the back of her hand. Her husband walked ahead of her expecting her to follow him soon after and meet him at their camp, but she never showed up and hasn’t been seen since. Life can be strange for sure.

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ADKresident says: “this article regarding Bigfoot, I see only simply pleasant exchanges and relayed tales for those who find it interesting!- mostly for enjoyment.”

    I don’t see too many replies at all regards this theme ADK which tells me most people aren’t believers, or are too close-minded to talk about such things. No surprise from this here cowboy!

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Quincy says: “Balian: I’m with you. There are many mythologies, throughout history and pastimes.”

    Sure Quincy. But there is quite much which is very unexplained and do I have my own stories to tell, which are not myth but real experiences. We believe what we wish to believe and that’s fine, but it’s always good to keep the mind open to possibilities. Oftentimes I am of the mind that it’s best to keep my lips zipped on some of my experiences due to the fact that most people, seemingly, are closed minded about such things, and so immediately after sharing a story I feel as if my experience was diminished because….so why even bother sharing. I’m to that point now, though now and again I’ll still share here and there some of my experiences, though oftentimes when I do, I feel as though I was deprived of the significance of the event due to the response, or non-response from others.

    I truly believe that those of us who have paranormal experiences have them for us, and only us, to learn something; that they are put in front of us for a reason, for a certain select few to gain a kind of knowledge that others will never have the opportunity to acquire for whatever that reason may be; part of which I believe is due to a narrow-mindedness, or to a sort of being distracted in large ways by things outside of themselves, or because most are too concerned with physical rather than spiritual or intellectual things! Of course I don’t really know why some of us experience the things we do and others don’t, but the above is some of the reasons which I have thought about over the years.

    One thing I am most certainly convinced of! There is energy out there, and here and there I pick up on it (and others the same,) or get fleeting glimpses of it in its different forms, which I feel strongly is a good thing, and that it is a blessing and that I am gifted because of this, and so I try to stay tuned which is not always an easy thing to do what with being surrounded by established disorder….. Take this as you will, but this is truly what I have felt for a very long time regards me, and I say so not in a self-congratulatory way as it may, to some, come off to be.

  9. Norma Eggman says:

    I am from Porterville, CA and it’s very interesting that you mentioned the Tule River Tribe. I have never know about the Harry man they speak of so this was a very interesting read. I’m a firm believer in Bigfoot.

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