Past, Present and Beyond – If you go down to the Woods today…

Bring a snack - or a camera - because you may have unexpected company.

A Sasquatch runs through it.

There’s a wonderful line in the 1939 film version of the Sherlock Holmes adventure “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, in which several characters are discussing local legends. One man is asked if he believes them, to which he replies, “No. If I believed all the legends about this place, I wouldn’t live here. I wouldn’t have the courage.”

I don’t know how many people believe in the legends told about Bigfoot, or Sasquatch; but if they do believe, and they choose to live in some of the more remote parts of this area, then they have a good deal of courage. The creature has, according to reports, been seen from Lytton to 100 Mile, and from Lillooet to Logan Lake, with stories ranging from the mundane (tall, hairy creatures have been glimpsed by the sides of any number of area roads) to the unusual (in 1993, a group of Cub Scouts camping overnight in Upper Hat Creek were awakened by “blood-curdling screams of intense volume”) to the very odd indeed (in 2000 a couple camping near Logan Lake reported “several incidents of their campsite being disturbed, missing food, missing clothing, finding 18-inch long, barefoot, humanlike footprints, and finally seeing a reddish-brown, 7 – 8 foot tall Sasquatch in their camp throwing stuff around”).

In early 2009 this paper reported on the furor created by a report that a pickup truck traveling on Hwy 1 south of Cache Creek had struck something. When the occupants of a vehicle traveling behind the pickup stopped to see if help was needed, they found that the creature was a “big hairy thing laying in the road, arms halfway down his legs and huge hands and feet and was walking upright before the guy hit it. It smelt really bad.” The creature was supposedly loaded into the back of the pickup, and the driver was going to take it to “the RCMP in Cache Creek [sic] to find out what the heck it is”. When the story broke, Sergeant Dave Prentice, then in charge of the RCMP detachment in Ashcroft, had to assure people that no creature fitting that description had ever been brought to the attention of the police.

And yet the legends persist, with the area bounded (roughly) by Chilliwack on the south end and Yale on the north having yielded up a rich trove of sightings over the decades. In 1884 there were reports of a small creature, “half-man, half-beast”, captured by a crew working on the CP line near Yale Tunnel, although “Jacko” (as the beast was named at the time) appears to have been about as real as the Cache Creek monster 125 years later. More persuasive is the 1941 sighting at Ruby Creek, between Agassiz and Hope, when a mother and her children were terrified by a strange creature that wandered out of the woods towards their cabin, causing them to flee. Those who were first back to the site reported seeing huge, bare, human-like footprints in the mud around the cabin, and a barrel of salted salmon had been torn apart. The area around Ruby Creek continues to throw up more than its fair share of people claiming to have seen large, hairy, upright creatures that aren’t bears, and are far too large to be people. Someone close to the author reports seeing such a thing, crossing a field towards the river at dusk.

Another person close to the author recalls hearing, many years ago, a strange scream one evening, near a cabin located on the side of Cornwall Mountain near Ashcroft. It was about 9 at night, and the cry – which sounded like a screaming baby, and unlike any animal he could remember hearing – came (as far as he could judge) from a spot near where the road leading away from the cabin turned and disappeared into the trees. “I don’t know what it was, but it sounded pretty close, about two or three hundred feet away. It was dark enough that I wasn’t going to go out there to look.”

This would have been in the early 1970s, and not many years later, in conversation with someone who used to live in the area, another, even stranger, story surfaced. The person in question used to live further up Cornwall, and had been in hospital in Kamloops following a minor operation. She got into conversation with another patient in the same room, an elderly Native woman. When the Native woman found out where my correspondent lived, she grew quiet, and then said that she had lived for a time in that same area – Three Sisters – but had left when she was a teenager, because she had seen a Sasquatch one day. The experience had so terrified her that she had left the place immediately, and never been back.

It’s a story that’s stayed with me for many years (although I’m glad I didn’t recall it, the day this past summer when our van broke down at Three Sisters, until well after I was safely home). Are the legends true? Is something out there, roaming the woods, or can all the stories and tales be explained away in a perfectly rational fashion? I don’t know. But keep your eyes open, next time you’re out in the woods, or driving along area roads. And have your camera handy, for good measure. You never know what might be waiting around the next bend in the road.

All accounts in this article, save the ones related directly to the author, are from the websites British Columbia Sasquatch (http://sasquatch-pg.net/British%20Columbia-sasquatch-sighting-reports.htm) and Phantoms and Monsters (http://naturalplane.blogspot.ca/2008/12/hbcc-report-sasquatch-hit-by-truck.html)

Barbara Roden

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