Editor's column

"Sasquatch was sighted in our neighborhood last month. The big furry guy popped up in the Hoh River Valley on the Olympic Peninsula, about 80 miles as the crow flies from Whidbey Island's Keystone ferry terminal.Mary C. Williams, who lives on the Hoh Reservation, said she and her husband noticed a set of extremely large footprints behind their home.That was enough to send a flurry of Bigfoot afficianados to the area. A spokesman with the Bureau of Indian Affairs said the agency looked into the report and was skeptical. There is something big going through their yards, BIA official Scott Small said, but it's most likely a bear.It's been a bumper year for sasquatch sightings. Bigfoot Central, a tracking and research center based in the Bothell home of Cliff Crook, has logged 11 sightings in the Pacific Northwest since May.Tack those on to the hundreds of reported sasquatch encounters stretching back several decades. Take, for example, the man kidnapped by a family of sasquatches who escaped only when he got his captors high on chewing tobacco (British Columbia, 1924). Or how about the woman tossed over a fence by Bigfoot (Wilsonville, Ore., 1970), or the couple who saw Bigfoot jogging across a suburban street in the Seattle area (Kirkland, 1988).A recent story in the Yakima Herald-Republic quoted a gentleman with the Sasquatch Research Project, Eric Beckjord, who said that a recent computer enhancement of the famous 1967 film footage of Bigfoot revealed a metal cylinder on his right arm. Beckjord drew the obvious conclusion - that Bigfoot is from outer space.An ape doesn't have a cylinder on his arm unless it's an experimental creature, Beckjord said.And then there are the more down-to-earth reports. Matthew Johnson lived in Alaska for 20 years and says he knows the difference between a bear and Bigfoot. When he saw sasquatch at the Oregon Caves National Monument on July 1 of this year, there wasn't a doubt in his mind. This was it, Bigfoot, he said. It was this tall hairy animal poking through the woods at us.I remember attending summer camp on Hood Canal when I was a kid. The adults told us stories around the campfire about the elusive snipe. They taught us the strange yodeling call of this rare creature, then sent us into the woods with flashlights to try our luck at snaring one in a brown bag.We didn't catch any snipes that night. It sure was fun looking for 'em, though. Robert Michael Pyle, a respected Washington state naturalist, writer and author of Where Bigfoot Walks, puts it this way: I am continually asked ... 'So tell me, do you believe?' I have never answered yes or no, and I don't intend to now. Not because I am afraid to take a stand, but because it has never been my desire to finally decide.I took the Keystone ferry to the Olympic Peninsula last year and hiked up the Hoh River. The Hoh is rainforest country. Clumps of moss dangle from the branches of giant trees. It's a landscape ordered supersize.It was a rare sunny winter day. The trails were empty. I heard rumblings up in the snow-capped peaks that I assumed were far-distant avalanches. In retrospect, it might have been Bigfoot tossing boulders.--------------------Mike Page-English is editor of the News-Times. He can be reached at"

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