A Squatch In the Woods…

Anyone who has known me for a sufficient length of time – let’s say a week – knows that I have more than a passing interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon. But, do I actually believe that an eight foot tall primate stalks the deep forests and valleys of North America? Let’s explore that a bit…

My history with Bigfoot

Is there a squatch in these woods?
Or maybe in these woods?

The earliest memory I have of being introduced to the idea that we might share our planet with undiscovered primates is when I was terrified by the appearance of the Abominable Snowman, aka “Bumble,” during the annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The build up to Bumble’s appearance was so effective and scared me so much that I think it was several years before I actually had the nerve to look at him on our giant 24″ black and white television! Which might be more understandable if I didn’t happen to be 15 years old at the time…(just kidding, I was 4 or 5 at the time).

Flash forward a couple of years to a still young me, now out of therapy and able to watch Christmas specials on television again without hiding under the couch, reading the National Wildlife Federation’s April 1968 issue. This issue happened to feature an article on the Bigfoot mystery in Northern California. I could hardly believe my eyes – could such a thing be real? Unfortunately, unlike today where there is a new book or television show produced about Bigfoot just about every week, research resources were scarce in this pre-Google age. It wasn’t until my early teens when I stumbled across John Napier’s book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality. Napier was one of the first notable scientists to give serious attention to the Bigfoot phenomenon. His book provided some compelling evidence, but no actual conclusion that Bigfoot or the Yeti (the primate said to live in the Himalayas) actually existed.

A squatcher is born

Clearly this structure could not be made by human hands. Only one answer makes sense…Bigfoot!

Napier’s book only whetted my appetite for all things squatchy. I devoured anything that I could regarding Sasquatch or the Yeti. I studied any articles I could find, I watched movies, and I watched docudramas like The Legend of Boggy Creek. Heck, even today I’ll watch anything that has Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or Yeti in the title. No matter how good or bad they are (spoiler: most are bad). By the way, I found the 1957 film The Abominable Snowman especially frightening and fascinating when it ran on Saturday or Sunday afternoon TV. Either on Sir Graves Ghastly or Bill Kennedy at the Movies, I’m sure it’s one of those two because Rita Bell’s Prize Movie was on during the week when I was in school. Man, I miss shows like those. The closest thing today to Bill Kennedy at the Movies is TCM. I’m glad they are keeping the tradition of talking a little about the movies before and after the show alive. But, I digress…

Other interests develop

The search continues!

Along with this Bigfoot fascination I developed an interest in world geography. How could a Yeti survive in the harsh conditions of the Himalayas (spoiler – they can’t. Most sightings are actually in the valleys not the peaks of the mountains)? How vast are the forest of North America? Where else have mysterious creatures and monsters been found? I became interested in other things – Mount Everest and wilderness exploration and tales of survival for example. My own passion for the outdoors never let up either. Even today, whenever I’m hiking I try to observe everything. Not only for signs of giant primates but for signs of other things, too.

In short, my curiosity about Bigfoot led me to explore other things about the world we live in. So my seemingly irrational fascination with Bigfoot led to a very rational exploration of nature. Ranae Holland, of Finding Bigfoot fame, in her TED talk explains this type of thing better than I can. You can watch her talk What Bigfoot Can Teach Us About Curiousity on YouTube.

So, back to the question I asked at the beginning of the blog – do I actually believe in Bigfoot? Well, the rational part of me says that the chances of a giant primate roaming the forests and mountains of North America is very slim. However, that same part of me says that it is unlikely that all those foot prints are made by pranksters. More compelling to me, after watching all those movies, is that no one in Hollywood has made a costume that looks like the creature in the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. Were a couple of cowboys really that good at faking a Sasquatch’s proportions?

Do I believe?

I won’t go so far as to say that I definitely think Bigfoot is out there. I will go so far as to say that people are seeing something. Maybe grizzly bears spend more time walking upright than we think, maybe there’s a spore in trees which causes hallucinations, maybe…I don’t know.

But there is one thing I know for sure. I would rather live in a world where the possibility of something like Bigfoot exists than a world where people are so convinced of their own pre-conceived ideas of how things should be that they can’t even entertain the possibility that there are things beyond their comprehension. That the world still holds mystery and wonder. That they could possibly be wrong in their perception of how things are because they are focused on how they want things to be.

Because beyond the limits of what you “know” is where the real adventure begins.

My collection of books on Mount Everest.

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

Journeys with Dave Goes Hollywood…or YouTube to be More Specific

In lieu of a blog post this week I’m trying something different – a YouTube video! It’s on my new channel and is a pretty basic attempt to record a walk on a short hiking trail near my home. I’m hoping that they become more interesting as I become more proficient in editing and such with the goal of adding a new visual element to my Journeys as things open up once we are post-COVID.

The video is located here and last a little over 10 minutes. For those interested, it was filmed on a Galaxy S10 and edited with MS Photos. So nothing fancy. But hey, I’m just starting out.

I’ve learned a lot on this one video. For example: did you know it takes an incredible amount of time to load a video up to YouTube? Nearly 2 hours for a 10 minute adventure. I can’t imagine how long my video of my upcoming trip to Egypt will take.

Oh yeah, did I tell you I’m going to Egypt in the fall? Now that will be an adventure and a journey.

Onward!

This tree didn’t make the video – but it should have!

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

Fitness Quest: A Run in the Woods

So Monday, in my continuing quest for greater fitness (and overall looking good) I decided to mix things up a bit and stop for a run along a trail after work Monday. Of course I’m using the term “run” loosely but thought it would be interesting to see how I did off a track and on a trail. So I stopped by one of my favorite Toledo Metroparks (Wildwood) which I had not been to in far too long, laced up my running shoes, turned on my running app and took off.

The course I selected was about 2.3 miles long and I planned to run 1/5th of a mile followed by walking 1/5th of a mile. This lasted for about half a mile then I fell into a 1/10th run…jog…waddle and 1/10th walk. I cleverly timed the running portion to always go uphill…yeah, I totally planned that part.

Traffic on the trail was heavy, as anticipated since Wildwood is one of the most popular parks, and everyone from a grade school class of runners (who only lapped me once), teens, young adults, middle aged folks and even a few elderly folks. The day was hot and humid.

I realized that runners, and walkers, have a sort of code when encountering each other on the trail. Often just a nod of the head, or a quick wave to sort of say “hey, I see you kindred spirit – just can’t talk now.” Other gestures are more complex. For example there’s one with the little finger and index finger extended, like surfers use, which seems to say “I see you. Keep going, if you don’t make it back I’ll help identify your body,” and another less popular gesture using the middle finger which seems to be for “dear sir, perhaps you don’t notice that I am behind you and cannot get around your <expletive deleted> FAT <colorful colloquialism for buttocks>!” or am I the only one who gets that? My favorite signal is from other gentlemen, like myself, of a certain age who smile knowingly while breathing hard. A gentle nod and slight wave that says, “me too brother, me too…”

At one point I spotted a man dressed in yellow who appeared to be on a trail which ran perpendicular to mine and then parallel with me until he disappeared silently into the forest. I never found the intersection of the trail he was one with my trail nor did I see his trail on a map. So, I can only presume that he was some sort of modern version of a Will o’ the Wisp and there to encourage me to continue further along my path. Such a waste of supernatural energies as it only served to freak me out (perhaps the lack of oxygen to my brain at this point had something to do with my line of thinking at the time).

Going up and down hills, or what pass for hills in Northwest Ohio, was different and I did feel it in my thighs the next day. However, running through nature has a charm and attraction all it’s own. It is difficult to hear the sounds of the woods over the loud breathing and beating heart, but the sights are there. The changing of the light as it filters through the green canopy above, the rustle of smaller wildlife getting out of your way. All reminders that we (i.e. humans) used to be one with this environment. It’s where we came from and in many ways it’s were we need to return to. A slower pace that reminds us that life is bigger than any one of us and should be preserved.

Though I didn’t do as well as hoped, I was pleased that I was able to actually run much of the trail and I followed my 2.3 miles with another mile or so “cool down” walk along the Ottawa River where I saw a couple deer and a Great Blue Heron…and a couple runners from the other trail who were still at it…good for them. Maybe that will be me one day. Though I won’t resort to the one fingered gesture.

There’s no glory in victory if you can’t be humble about it after all.

Onward!