Bigfoot has been sighted in Southwest Virginia. Apparently often. Usually associated with the mountains in the Pacific Northwest, there have been encounters with bigfoot, or sasquatch, all across this country.
Earlier last month, I was finishing a hike with a client when we saw an 8′ tall, fur-covered, man-like creature stop on the trail about 100′ in front of us. Standing but slightly hunched, it turned its head slowly and looked back at us, barred its teeth, and then quickly lumbered away down the hill out of sight.
Neither of us had our cameras ready. It happened so fast we were not able to get a photograph of the creature. Dumbfounded, shocked, and in fear, we just stared down the trail and then back at one another.
Actually, that’s not what really happened.
Earlier last month, I was finishing a hike with a client when we learned that Animal Planet was getting ready to film a new episode for the second season of the TV show Finding Bigfoot in Southwest Virginia. This is what really happened:
As we were arriving at the gravel parking lot, a large, white SUV drove up to us. The blonde driver stated, “Hi, I’m a TV producer from Los Angeles, and I’m trying to find out some areas to shoot footage for our television show.”
He pointed to where we were hiking. He asked, “Do you know who owns this property?”
My client stepped forward. She said, “I do.”
Then, gesturing towards me, she said, “And he’s my lawyer.”
So our conversation began. We talked for a while, and we learned he was one of the producers of Finding Bigfoot.
Last week, the local newspaper reported that the TV show had a “casting call” of sorts, where they interviewed individuals who believe they have encountered bigfoot in our region. According to the Washington County News:
After a short introduction by the show’s cast, the floor was open for local residents to tell their best Bigfoot stories on camera. Most of the witnesses’ stories had the common theme of spotting an extremely tall, broad-shouldered figure while hunting in the woods. One of the hunters was a man from Piney Flats, Tenn., who told a detailed story about how a large, dark figure with long, matted hair walked up to him, looked at him for a moment, then walked away in a zigzag motion.
“With my hand up to heaven I know what I saw,” the man said after he told his story.
A teenager from Saltville told a story about how she saw the familiar dark figure at the top of a hill outside her home, and soon after she made eye contact with it she was hit by a rock that left a sizeable bruise on her right leg. She even brought in a drawing of the creature to show to the cast.
The Bigfoot Phenomenon
The phenomenon of the fascination with bigfoot is itself fascinating. Like other paranormal phenomenons, such as UFOs, opinions on the existence of bigfoot are polarized. Either you believe they exist, or you think those who do are freaks.
Those who believe in bigfoot argue that bigfoot’s existence without definitive human knowledge is not that far-fetched: There are other phenomena−far larger phenomena−that have existed without human knowledge through the ages. For example, until the last 10-15 years, many of the world’s tallest waterfalls remained unknown to humankind (the 3rd, 5th, and 16th tallest waterfalls were only recently discovered). If such large geographical formations could remain hidden, is it not possible that an intelligent humanoid could covertly exist in remote areas of the country?
The phenomenon of bigfoot sightings is world-wide. Individuals around the world swear they have seen the humanoid cryptid. In Europe the creature has been known through the ages as the “Wildman”; in Asia it is known as the “Yeti” or the “Abominable Snowman”; in Oceania it is known as the “Yowie.”
The great climber, Reinhold Messner, spent several seasons in the Himalaya and had an encounter with the Yeti. Messner wrote a book about it, My Quest for the Yeti. Messner ultimately concluded that the Himalyan Yeti was most likely a bear.
Perhaps most, if not all, human encounters with bigfoot could be explained in some similar fashion−misconceptions about what people saw or thought they saw.
Bigfoot Sightings in Virginia
In Virginia, there are several organizations dedicated to bigfoot research. The Virginia Bigfoot Research Organization boasts of “combining scientific methodology with shamanistic awareness in the hopes of establishing peaceful contact.” Based in Northern Virginia, VBRO has a large list of encounters with bigfoot in the Commonwealth organized by region. There are numerous sightings in Southwest Virginia. Sasquatch Watch of Virginia, another organization, “conducts initial field investigations and field research within areas of reported encounters or habitual recurring encounters.”
One website purports to map all of the confirmed bigfoot encounters in the United States. From my review of the maps, there are more bigfoot sightings in the Eastern United States than in the West. There are numerous encounters near New York City.
Which brings us to the penultimate question in this article. Hypothetically, if there are bigfoot in Southwest Virginia, where would they most likely be?
My guess would be up on Clinch Mountain, in the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area, or somewhere near the Virginia-Kentucky state line near Breaks Interstate Park. These are the most rugged areas of this part of the state, where the squatch could reside with fairly large ranging areas and yet hide from humans.
So, is there a squatch in these Southwest Virginia woods? I can’t wait to hear the testimonials on the TV show and find out. And next time you are in the outdoors, be extra aware. Oh yes, keep your cameras ready, too.