Seated at a bar stool in a shady, dank, dark tavern on the Olympic Peninsula, I sat with a laptop in front of me, quickly editing the first batch of pictures from my most recent trip. The faint smell of smoke still permeated the air, reminding my nostrils of the days before smoking laws. This is a tavern like any other on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympia Beer neon lights flickered and hummed, barely audible over the Country and Western music playing from a dull glowing juke-box in the corner. I sat, glued to my Mac and updating Twitter on my phone, while two men with a total of 17 fingers and 25 teeth sat, looking down, as if to angle their green and white half mesh baseball caps at their mostly empty brown bottles. One of these things in the bar is not like the other; one of these things does not belong. My technology stood out in this old logging bar like someone from the East Coast stepping into the Hoh Rainforest for the first time; I don’t fit in with the locals. I buried my head, hoping to quickly finish eating, hydrating and editing before I overstayed my welcome. The two men seemed to be content with ignoring me, and they start talking slowly, as if to not draw attention to themselves in this empty bar at 2 in the afternoon. I tuned it out, looking over pictures of my day’s journey, when one word I overheard stopped me in my thoughts. Somewhere between the lyrics of the song playing above and the gentle rumble of the beer signs, the man with the only pinky and thumb on left hand, said the word “sasquatch” in a loud whisper.
I jerked up on my stool without meaning to, and before I knew it, the man asked me if I was listening in on his conversation. I admitted I was, not because I am super honest to strangers, but because I was nervous about the stereotypes and stigmas that go along with the old loggers in secluded Olympic Peninsula towns. Against what I was led to believe from stories and television, the men proceed to talk to me for the next hour about their experiences with this forested ape while they were logging in the early 80s. Not a hint of deception is detected in their voices, and soon the waitress lumbers over and starts to tell me about her Bigfoot sightings. I ask them about frequency and who else in town has seen this creature that I have never seen and doubt its existence. They give story after story; in fact, it got to the place where I figured everyone in town had stories about this tall, hairy creature. I take a few notes, shake a few hands and walked out to my car feeling a bit odd about everything I had taken for granted. Dodging the puddles of muddy water in the dirt and gravel parking lot, I started driving home recreating the stories I heard that day, as well as all the other stories in my life of people trying to convince me that Sasquatch was not only real, but lived in my own back yard. According to nearly everyone who lives out on the Olympic Peninsula, Bigfoot isn’t just real, it is almost common.
The legends of Bigfoot are all over the world, but there is a special relationship with this area and the stories. The Quinault tribe passes down stories of “C’iatqo” and “Glue-Keek”, ape like mammals living in the woods and keeping their distance from humans. Many doubters say that these stories were used to explain the unknown or to keep people in the camps at night. In the same realm as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, these beasts were created to instill just enough fear of the unknown to keep everyone close. In fact, the animal described by the Quinault legend says that the beast terrorized camp, and was hunted and burnt alive. The legend also says that as it was dying, it swore it would return and drink everyone’s blood. The story finishes by saying that as the Bigfoot turned into ashes, the ashes became alive and transformed into mosquitoes.
Whether or not these are just local fables passed down, they seemed to be gaining life with each telling becoming a reality and a truth. Numerous people in the Olympic Peninsula will tell you stories about a seven or eight foot, broad shouldered, hairy figure emerging from the woods, knocking on wood at night or even howling in a yell that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight out. To many on the Peninsula, Sasquatch is out there, and if you know where to go and know how to attract them just right, you can have an encounter with one.
Usually, the locations of such high amounts of Bigfoot activity are kept secret from outsiders, much like great hiking trails and waterfalls are kept from tourists. Sasquatch searching is usually only for the believers, only for those who can say without a doubt that they are real. The people who believe in Sasquatch are tired of being ridiculed, and for many of them, scoffing about their stories is a sure fire way to get shut out of any of their trips. If you are a believer of Bigfoot, you believe in them as much as those of you who doubt there existence think that the believers are crazy.
I am not here to convince you one way or the other with my words. You already feel strongly one way or the other, believing or doubting. You might claim to be on the fence, but you are leaning heavily toward one side. I am not going to tell you what to believe or who I think is correct. No, instead I am going to invite you out to the forests of the Olympic Peninsula for a night or two. I am inviting you to camp out in the woods, learn about the areas many trails, forests, beaches and mountains. I am inviting you to stay up for most of the night exploring the forests and seeing, just maybe, if the unknown is real or if our minds are truly capable of creating a new reality based on the remaining instinctual fear of the unknown.
Exotic Hikes is inviting you to take a trip out with us, camp under the stars, do some hiking and discover something rare. You may find your own Bigfoot story or you might find out that you fell in love with nature and the Olympic Peninsula. Either way, this is great way to explore the region.
We are pleased to offer our Olympic Peninsula Sasquatch Tour. Great for the whole family, college kids who want to get away or just someone wanting to know all aspects of the Olympic Peninsula. Exotic Hikes has you covered. While locations may vary, this package of either a 1 or 2 night trip is sure to be memorable. Contact us for details or stay tuned for this tour to be added in our tour section at Exotichikes.com/tours
Exotic Hikes: @Exotichikes on Twitter
Some info was found here: http://www.unexplainedmonsters.com/bigfoot/bigfoot-legend.html