I was absolutely devastated the day I heard Roger Patterson had made a deathbed confession that the 1967 bigfoot footage he shot was a hoax.
This was both the end of a years-long obsession with what I thought was the unknown, and the beginning of a long-standing bout of skepticism.
Leading up to Patterson’s admission, I was objectively sure — albeit in a non-scientific way — that if that footage was real, bigfoot was also most likely real because the creature in the film, according to my eyes, couldn’t be anything but bigfoot. It very clearly wasn’t a bear walking on two legs. It was one of two things: a human in an ape suit or bigfoot itself. The scene shot in the creek bed that day is forever ingrained in my mind: the massive upright ape-like creature, calmly walking with an impressively taut arm swing and carriage, moving away from the camera, looking over its shoulder to acknowledge the equipment, but not in too much of a hurry.
It was too good to be true. It was literally too good to be true. When I found out it was a hoax, things changed for me, but for the better I’d argue. Instead of taking things at face value, I began to require concrete evidence for my beliefs.
At an early age, as many tykes do, I took a great interest in the supernatural and cryptozoology. With every resource I could, I researched aliens, ghosts, sea monsters, and the various creatures worldwide that fall under the same category as bigfoot. This is what people do, it tickles the imagination.
Growing up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, where uncharted acreage and waters were plentiful, we had many alleged sightings above and below water. Of course our most famous unknown resident creature was “Champy,” which had allegedly been spotted in Lake Champlain since the early 1600s.
I’ve written about Champy in past columns and even suggested, because of the economic tourism boost you get from having an internationally-known sea or lake monster, Boone Lake — with its low levels — would benefit from a few sightings. This suggestion, made in jest, was not taken well, and I have the angry voicemails and emails to prove it.
Another instance was near Lyon Mountain, New York, a stone’s throw from the old rail bed on which I did most of my training runs. It was said by a cryptozoology website at the time that a couple of motorcyclists from Canada were touring the back roads near the rail bed when they were stopped dead in their track as a bigfoot crossed the road in front of their bikes.
It turns out there was a well-bearded mountain dweller human living in an encampment nearby, and these motorcyclists happened to see him cross the road, most likely on a mundane task. Unfortunately, the truth isn’t always as exciting as figments of our imagination. Just because we want something to be true, doesn’t make it so. There needs to be evidence to back up these extraordinary claims.
Unfortunately, like the Patterson footage, things aren’t always as they seem, and evidence is needed.
Though that example is from near the Canadian border, there are similar sightings of bigfoot-like creatures right around the Tri-Cities. Bigfoot sightings happen frequently here, as they do anywhere there’s a dark patch of trees. I might theorize that it’s human nature to put a bad answer in the unknown’s place rather than no answer at all.
That’s why sightings — and sightings alone — of these creatures are never actually verified by science and pop up all across the earth. People want to embrace the supernatural without any reason for doing so.
If bigfoot, a real sea or lake monster, ghost, goblin, ghoul, spirit, soul or anything outside the scope of what we know as natural were to be found, science would be right there to verify it and award credit exactly where it’s due. There’s a good reason why this hasn’t occurred, despite our well-resourced efforts to find those things, little to nothing has turned up.
That’s not to say these elusive creatures and supernatural beings aren’t out there, we just can’t seem to find any tangible evidence to support their existence. So I ask you to proceed, cautiously and skeptically, with me.