Thursday, January 19, 2017

On Bigfoot’s trail in remote northern California

The Bigfoot Scenic Byway winds 89 miles through deep gorges and primordial forests, past waterfalls and granite-lined lakes. Sightings have been reported – and everyone has a tale.

By Andy Murdock from the BBC.

When the US National Forest Service named a remote and little-visited 89-mile stretch of California Route 96 the “Bigfoot Scenic Byway”, one might have been tempted to chalk it up as a well-intentioned bait-and-switch. Come for the mythical North American mega-ape, stay for the deep gorges, primordial forests, granite-lined lakes, soaring eagles and frolicking river otters that too few people get to enjoy.

But whatever the reason, naming a scenic route after the world’s least visible animal has a way of catching a curious road-tripper’s attention.

The modern Bigfoot phenomenon, and the name “Bigfoot” itself, arose in the late 1950s when multiple reports of giant footprints and mysteriously disturbed road construction sites emerged out of northern California. Today, Bigfoot’s popularity has come roaring back out of the underbrush thanks to US television shows like Finding Bigfoot (Discovery Channel), Killing Bigfoot (Destination America) and 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty (Spike TV). As a result, groups like the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) are leading an increasing number of Sasquatch-curious travellers throughout North America, with scouting trips ranging from the misty forests of the Washington Cascades to the balmy wilds of northern Florida.

On a recent camping trip, I was delighted to discover that I'd inadvertently set up camp in the middle of a BFRO foray. And I had found something far more interesting than Bigfoot: a group of average-looking people who happily forked over money to hunt for something they were guaranteed not to find.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have been surprising: a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that roughly 30% of Americans believe that Bigfoot is either “definitely” or “probably” real. I have a background in evolutionary biology, so to say I am a Bigfoot sceptic would be a vast understatement. On the other hand, the tireless passion of Bigfoot hunters in the face of a total lack of reliable evidence, and the fact that the more thoughtful Bigfoot enthusiasts cast the hunt as a pursuit of something that might exist at, or just beyond, the limits of human perception is fascinating. Perhaps there’s more to the Bigfoot phenomenon – and Bigfoot country – than meets the eye.

Click here to read more at the BBC.

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