And I’m not talking about a teddy bears’ picnic, people! Though you might want to heed the last verse of that cutesy little children’s song: “If you go down in the woods today you better not go alone/It's lovely down in the woods today but safer to stay at home.” Because guess what? There might be a sasquatch picnic going on.
That’s right. There have been rumours of Bigfoot or Sasquatch or whatever you want to call him (or her) circulating around the Mountain Kingdom lately--enough so that you might want to keep an eye out when you’re out there hiking or mountain biking around our wonderful trails system. You might want to take a dog with you, or borrow one if you don’t have your own, and I recommend a camera. And fast reflexes.
The first public mention of a possible large furry lurker in our woods came on August 22, on Bhubble.
A person using the nickname “forgetmeknot” claimed he saw something large and hairy and walking on its hind legs while hiking. He (or she), said, “It seemed to have black color fur and was quite large maybe over 6 ft tall and quite heavy. It appeared to be running quite fast. If this seems weird then wait until what happens next. I caught a glimse [sic] and then noticed this large animal or man in costume running and then it just seemed to disappear almost as if its consistancy [sic] changed to glass. This all happened rather fast and was very strange. I didn’t feel as if it was aggressive or dangerous but it was alarming to see.”
But I didn’t come across this story via Bhubble. Oh no. A friend of mine had an experience on the Techo Grind on that same day of August that scared the bejeebers out of him. This friend, who wishes to have his real name withheld and wants to go by the pseudonym Mountain Mike, came home very shaken and told his wife what he saw. And of course, what does any loving wife do in a situation like this? She posts the whole thing on Facebook, and since I am a friend of hers, I saw the post, and thence went on to find out about the Bhubble posting.
For the record, I posted on the Bhubble thread that I’d be interested in hearing other stories if anyone else were willing to come forward, but no one did.
But my friend is brave. In an interview with me, Mountain Mike described how he came upon the unknown entity early in the morning of August 22.
“The fog had settled in at the top of Monte Christo Mountain. I had just reached the trailhead of one of my favourite morning workouts: Techno Grind. I texted my wife at 7:25am to let her know where in the hills I might be should something happen. My dog-panion decided she wanted to stay warm in bed this particular morning, so I was alone. I strapped on my helmet and began the first descent on the trail... Techno is a cross-country trail so you can get some speed and a good flow going. I passed a woman and her golden retriever, picking huckleberries. A few fast minutes later I dropped out of the fog layer and came around a corner. The trail immediately plateaus and there is plenty of room to slow oneself down, [but on] this ride however I would put on the brakes for an entirely different reason.”
At first he thought it was a bear, which is pretty rational given the fact that this is Bear Country. Mountain Mike described its colour as very dark, brown-black. “It stood upright on two feet (at first I thought this might be an act of aggression) but then quickly turned and ran bipedal to the same trail I was on,” he continues. And it was substantially heavy, too. “Given I was 100 plus yards away from it, and I could feel its feet striking the ground, it must have been heavy... It thundered as its feet hit the ground,” claims Mountain Mike, “branches snapped as my mind raced through every easy-read bathroom survival book I had ever read. Before I could brace myself for whatever was to come, it turned ran and was gone.”
What Mountain Mike saw was tall, too; he’s six feet tall himself and the whatever it was was, he sensed, one to two feet taller than he. “It was bigger than any black bear I had ever seen. And much darker than a grizzly.” So, no Gary Camozzi jokes, please.
Other reports of sasquatch sightings often talk of a musky smell, but Mountain Mike did not experience that. “I couldn't smell anything past my own soiled shorts.”
An unnatural silence fell around Mountain Mike as he stood on the Techno Grind, many things flashing through his mind, wondering what to do next. “Ten frozen minutes must have passed. I made things right with my Maker, and decided to peddle towards where I last saw it. To turn around and pedal uphill would put me at a disadvantage speed-wise, plus my back would be turned. So gathering all the courage I had, I pressed on. I can't say it helped or that it was on key but I sang every Louie Armstrong song I could remember as loud as I could, and intermixed that with coughing and barking sounds. After 20 minutes of eerie solitude I was back at my house in Rossland.”
After a short internal debate as to whether or not to tell anyone about what he saw, Mountain Mike eventually told Mrs. Mountain Mike, who posted about the experience on her Facebook timeline. This instigated an entertaining, lively thread of conversation amongst locals, some of whom laughed it off as a joke, and some of whom took it quite seriously, citing First Nation legends, including one that has a village of sasquatches living near Squamish.
In May there was a spate of postings on Bhubble by someone only known as “D”, with pictures taken along the Centennial Trail, warning people of a “yeti” but with a badly drawn in picture of said yeti posing in the reservoir, with a dog, etc. Obviously, there is a joker in town.
But despite the lighthearted nature of this article, I can personally vouch for the sanity of Mountain Mike and don’t think it’s his style at all to make something like this up. And seeing that there was another sighting the same day as this one, with strikingly similar details, it does cause one to pause and wonder.
“Was it a prankster-berry picker in an ape suit?” Mountain Mike muses. “But how can I explain that it ran from me at three times the speed I have ever seen an Olympic runner move? Plus that would be a dedicated, obscenely large individual at 7am in the middle of the forest just hoping someone would pass by to put the fear in them! Was it a sasquatch?”
Usually dismissed as part myth, part urban legend, and a generous dose of hoax, sasquatch stories are not uncommon in places like Washington State and other parts of British Columbia. Witnesses say they’re very mobile and fast, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility they can travel to nice little havens like Rossland to check out the local scene.
So if you go down in the woods today, A) do not go in disguise (not wise and not funny at all!), but B) keep your eyes peeled and your camera handy, because bears might no longer be our most interesting wildlife encounters out on the trails!