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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Olympic Peninsula, October 1977

Here is the second story of Thom Cantrall's encounters with Sasquatch.

Who Is Sasquatch?
By
Thom Cantrall

Olympic Peninsula October, 1977

He was large, over eight feet tall and easily weighed six-hundred pounds… he was covered with long, dark hair. His massive head seemed to sit directly on his broad shoulders with little or no neck between. Oversized crystal-brown eyes surveyed me diligently as I stood transfixed. We watched each other at a range of less than twenty-five feet with my mind cataloging all I was seeing even while my brain was telling me this was an impossibility. “This creature does not exist and anyone who states otherwise is either lying, perpetrating a hoax or is misidentifying what they are seeing,” the so-called expert had said with authority.
Well, at this moment, deep in the swampy morass known as the Dickey River country, I wished fervently that I had this “expert” with me. I was over two miles from the nearest road and more than a mile from anything that could be considered even a ghost of a trail on a trek that no one other than my partner knew I was taking. My partner was nowhere within reach. He was probably sitting in my truck on the road eating my sandwich and drinking my coffee. One thing I knew for a fact. He was not going to be anywhere near this far from a soft seat and dry cab. I knew that no one was going to know anything of what I was seeing except I tell them.
I was here in the capacity of a Forest Engineer to do a bridge site survey for a local timber company who planned to build a road into this stretch of virgin timber. As that road crossed a salmon spawning stream, a hydraulics permit was going to be required to satisfy the requirements of the state in order to obtain the necessary permits to build this road. A bridge site survey involves measuring the size, width and depth of the stream as well as the soil types that are found. In short, everything that will go into the design and construction of the bridge and adjacent road was to be enumerated and recorded.
Sasquatch… Bigfoot… Swamp Ape… Yeti… they were the same creature and they did not exist. I was told so by experts… So, why was something that does not exist standing there watching me so intently? Didn’t he know he was an imaginary creature… a myth? This was evidently not true, for he began to move slowly away from me. He was walking upright, just as I do. He began a slow retreat towards the nearby timber and away from the berries he had been feeding on when I first spotted him. He did not totter in a lumbering fashion as a bear does when he walks on his hind legs but walked smoothly with a strange little hitch in his gait. In abject awe, I watched as he walked surely and directly to the heavy cover. As he went, he turned occasionally without stopping to assess my actions. He need not have worried for I was not moving from where I stood. It was as if I had taken root on that spot.
This encounter etched itself into my brain as I realized that this was probably what that expert called panic hysteria induced by some event in my childhood that caused me to hallucinate and think I actually was seeing what my eyes were recording… but, why wasn’t that expert here? In fact, I wondered if that expert had ever been here… or any similar place anywhere in North America? Somehow, I don’t really believe he had been.
When this creature of my imagination disappeared into the darkness of the timber I stood and watched as his image seemed to be burned into my retina. When a few minutes had passed and this after-image abated, I decided to see if I had actually been hallucinating and moved to where he had been eating berries. Unfortunately for my reasonable expert, the first things I saw were tracks… large, wide tracks there in the soft ground. Five toe prints were clearly visible and from heel to toe, the track measured seventeen inches in length and was approximately five and one-quarter inches in breadth across the ball of the foot. It tapered to a width of about two and three-quarters at the heel. I could see a series of his tracks between where I now stood and the timber across the way. The first thing that struck me was the length of the creature’s stride.
I was a Forest Engineer and, as such, had taught myself to walk with a measured pace. I was able to measure long distances by pacing and be accurate within fifty feet in a mile. I had done so many times, often to the amazement of my partner. My pace, left foot then right was exactly five feet. I could maintain this pace accurately uphill and down.
Using my calibrated paces, I carefully measured the stride of my visitor and found his pace, from the heel of his right foot to the left and back to the heel of the right again was within two of my paces or over nine feet and below ten feet. As I had watched the creature walk away, I knew he had not been alarmed and was not running, but merely walking steadily on his way.
The last measurement I wanted was the depth or his footprint in the soft ground as it compared to my own. I knew that my shorter, narrower foot should penetrate deeper than his long, broad feet. To test my hypothesis, I removed my boots and socks and walked as he did over the same ground, just being careful not to obliterate his tracks. I was amazed that my foot did not sink deeper nor, interestingly enough, did his sink deeper than my own. In fact, we made very similar tracks separated only by size. Both showed the balls of our feet, five distinct toes, a marked arch and a round heel. The only real difference was in the fact that he seemed to place his foot more evenly on the ground than did I, not rolling from heel to toe as I did in my paces.
As I sat and replaced my boots, it struck me to measure my foot and compare that to that of my non-existent visitor. When I did so, I made what was, to me, a startling discovery. I computed my foot to have covered approximately thirty square inches. And, since I weighed two-hundred-twenty-five pounds fully dressed at that time, I was exerting approximately seven point five pounds per square inch of pressure on the ground. When I measured my imaginary guest’s footprint, I judged it to be approximately eighty square inches and, while I did not know exactly what he weighed, as he didn’t seem prone to staying around while I found a set of scales, but I could estimate the weight of cattle quite accurately and I felt I could be just as accurate with this myth. When I divided my estimated weight of six-hundred pounds by the eighty square inches of his foot print, I came up with an identical seven point five pounds per square inch! No wonder we sank so nearly the same in the ground, we were exerting virtually the same pressure per square inch on it as we walked.
Armed with all this data, I continued on to complete my bridge site survey and began my hike back towards my truck… When I arrived, I was right… my lunch had been ravaged and my partner was sleeping contentedly in his corner of the truck.

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