Just released by Anomalist Books is Monster Hike: A 100-Mile Inquiry Into The Sasquatch Mystery. The author: Avrel Seale, a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. The blurb for the book reads as follows: "This personal memoir — at turns frightening, funny, and philosophical — explores the fundamental questions about this persistent mystery: What are these creatures? Why, after thousands of encounters with humans, do they still go unacknowledged by science, government, and mainstream society? And what does all of this tell us about the dangers and the rewards of believing in something mysterious? Want to go see for yourself too? Read this eye-opening book before getting to the trailhead."
I finished reading the book a couple of days ago. And I can say for sure that it's yet another great release from Anomalist Books. I should stress, though, that Monster Hike is not your average Bigfoot-themed book. It's a witty, amusing and adventurous saga of one man's quest to try and uncover the truth of what lies at the heart of the Sasquatch mystery. The book is also somewhat of a coming of age story - except for the fact that the author plans to take a trip when he is about to hit his fifties! Stand By Me for grown-ups? Well, kinda, yes. In a way.
The prologue to the book is an atmospheric section which tells of a strange incident involving Seale, an incident which leaves him with his legs shaking, his eyes wide and us wondering what happened next (you have to wait until further into the book to find out). Then, we take a trip back to Seale's childhood and his then-fascination for Planet of the Apes: the movies, the TV series, and various plastic models of the characters. Seale speaks about his childhood with a great deal of fondness and, as a result, one has to wonder if his decision to go on an adventurous quest to find a Bigfoot (or several) was provoked by a yearning for those long-gone days of childhood when every day was an adventure. Maybe so.
There are some genuinely funny parts to the book, such as the times when Seale would go looking for a new paranormal-themed book to buy and while "...riding the bus, I'd sit on the left so fellow passengers couldn't see the front cover of my latest purchase."
The book provokes a great deal of welcome apprehension as our author hits the woods, the forests and the trails - never, ever losing his enthusiasm for the giant, hairy beast. The creatures may elude Seale, but that fails to stop him from taking just one more quest for the truth. And one more. And one more. In a highly entertaining fashion, he details the planning, hazards, and hopes that go with a road-trip in the dense woods and forests of East Texas (Seale lives in the city of Austin).
In telling the story of his adventures in the woods, we get to learn a great deal about Seale's thoughts on the Bigfoot phenomenon. He is quite partial to the idea that the words "Bigfoot" and "conspiracy" go together. No, we're not talking about some deranged plot involving the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, Area 51 and America's most famous monster. Rather, he sees a small conspiracy (of sorts), one which suggests there just might be those in government who may have an uneasy awareness that there are strange, mysterious and possibly violent creatures in the woods - and that handling the situation is not the easiest thing to achieve. Tales and rumors of people going missing in the woods follow.
As the book progresses further, we see Seale become a modern day equivalent of Captain Ahab, while the legendary white whale has mutated into a massive, hairy hominid. That's right: Seale is a man determined to succeed. With fifty on his mind (and on his mind quite a lot, I should add...), for Seale it's a case of "now or never." On top of that, Seale has some genuinely intriguing experiences, many of them revolving around the likes of what in the Bigfoot field are known as "vocalizations," "Bigfoot Teepees," and "Tree-Knocking."
I won't tell you if Seale encounters a Bigfoot (read it!). But, I will tell you that Monster Hike is a book that is filled with hopes, dreams, mysteries, nostalgia, and, finally, a deep sense of accomplishment. And, you don't even have to be a Bigfoot enthusiast to enjoy it. In many respects, the book is not about Bigfoot. It's about one man and how a famous monster said to lurk in the forests of the United States pushed him to take the trip(s) of a lifetime. Even if it meant waiting until he was fifty! An excellent road-trip-style book that should not be missed. If - when he was hanging out at Big Sur in the 1950s - Jack Kerouac had encountered a Bigfoot and he was a bit older, this is the book he would have written.