Jun 08, 2018 I Brent Swancer

Bizarre Encounters with the Batsquatch

In the annals of strange animals, monsters, and mystery beasts there are some that seem to truly defy classification, and which really go to the far extremes of the weird. These are creatures and entities that defy any real category, cause us to scratch our heads, and which flutter on the edge of absurdity, and certainly one of these is an immense, half-ape, half-bat monster that has come to be known as the fearsome Batsquatch, and it is exactly as weird as it sounds.

Located within the state of Washington, in the United States, lying not far from the major cities of Portland and Seattle, is the towering, looming figure of the mighty volcano called Mt. Saint Helens. In March of 1980, the region was rocked when Mt. Saint Helens experienced a major volcanic eruption that unleashed destruction on a catastrophic scale, flattening vast swaths of trees and buildings over an area of 230 square miles, spewing forth massive amounts of ash and 1.5 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide into the air, and creating the largest debris avalanche ever recorded. The eruption was so explosively violent that it completely obliterated the top of the mountain, shaving the summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m) to leave an enormous crater, and by the time the dust cleared dozens of people were dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. The 1980 eruption is to this day the single most destructive volcanic event in U.S. history, and it also marks the beginning of one of the strangest cryptozoology tales out there.

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Mt. Saint Helens

In the wake of the rampant destruction, scattered rumors began to come in from people claiming to have seen a humanoid creature with an ape-like body, glowing eyes, and sweeping bat-like wings lurking in the remote areas of the devastation. Whatever it was, it was most often described as being rather sinister in nature, emanating an intense feeling of dread, and there were even claims that it had killed pets or livestock. Yet while these sightings began trickling in from the 1980s, they were not taken very seriously, and it was not until 1994 that the sighting that would launch real interest in the case would occur, while also showing that the creature had increased its range beyond merely Mt. Saint Helens.

In April of 1994, a young man named Brian Canfield was driving along a remote stretch of road through the dark wilderness on his way to the isolated Camp One, located in the Mount Rainier foothills near Lake Kapowsin, when his vehicle abruptly and unexpectedly stopped in its tracks. Considering that the pickup truck was in perfect working condition and that he had not stepped on the brakes, the confused Canfield was at a loss as to why this should be, and several attempts to restart the truck failed. It seemed as if he was stuck there on a secluded road in the middle of nowhere with only the beams of his headlights holding back the encroaching dark.

He did not have much time to really think about it, as he soon saw something come gliding into the light from the headlights, which he at first took to be a large bird but which would prove to be anything but. As it loomed into view Canfield could see that it was an absolutely massive winged humanoid ape-like creature estimated as being around 9-feet tall, and as it drew closer he could discern bluish tinged fur, a muzzled bat-like face with sharp teeth and glowing eyes, and taloned feet that looked like those of some bird of prey. The bizarre beast made its way to a small nearby field just off the road to settle to the earth in a way that the witness noted seemed like an aircraft coming in for a landing, and Canfield would say of what happened next thus:

It was standing there staring at me, like it was resting, like it didn’t know what to think. I was scared, it raised the hair on me. I didn’t feel threatened. I just felt out of place. It’s looking right at me like in a deep stare, like right through me. It’s standing perfectly still. It stood for – how long? – a few minutes. Several minutes. Then its fingers twitched and its wings began to unfold. Those wings were as wide as the road. It turned its head and looked back at me and started flapping its wings. A few minutes later the truck just started. I took off as fast as I could.

This sighting was widely reported in the media at the time, and really brought this bizarre creature into the public consciousness, and indeed it was this report quickly earned the entity the nickname “Batsquatch.” By all accounts Canfield was a normal, well-adjusted individual who did not do drugs or drink, so it is unclear if this was a hoax or not. Interestingly, while this is by far the most well-documented and widely covered sightings it wasn’t even the only one that year, and 1994 saw another report of something very similar in nature, when a local liquor store owner, avid mountaineer, and amateur pilot named Butch Whittaker claimed that he had been flying his plane over Mt. Rainier during midday when an enormous winged humanoid creature flew up next to him and kept pace for a few minutes before flying off out of sight.

There have been other reports of the Batsquatch as well, such as a report from 1998, in which a witness claims to have seen a logging truck actually hit one of the creatures along an isolated mountain road. The truck had been barreling along only to suddenly make contact with something in the road, which the witness first took to be a tree stump or log in the road. When the vehicle teetered over the edge of the road to slide down the sharp drop of the steep, rocky mountainside. The shocked witness reportedly ran to go and try to help the occupant, and that was when the witness realized that the truck had not hit a log, but rather an enormous winged humanoid that seemed to be none the worse for wear after the thunderous impact, and which would be described thus:

The creature stood about fifteen feet high when it was sitting, hunched over in front of me. I later discovered that this creature would measure an easy thirty feet from head to bottom, once it was airborne. I say bottom, because it didn’t really have a tail. The head of the animal was unusually small compared to its massive body, the beady purple eyes would remind anyone who has the misfortune of seeing them, believe that this creature could be of the raton family. While other characteristics of the head also had many features of the raton family, being of noteworthy comment is the long pointed ears from which protruded from the top of the creature’s head. The nose was rather small. The most pronounced feature of the nose being its unusual color of purple. I believe this is the only creature in the world that has a purple nose. The wing span of the creature looked very small, as if it couldn’t fly with such a small wing surface. However, I later learned, once the creature was airborne, the wings extended out to form a wingspan of a good forty feet. The most disturbing feature of the large beast was its hands. It appeared to have four sets of them. Perhaps I should clarify that to mean two sets of claws/hands on the wings, about mid-way and another set on the torso, almost as if they were human. (I didn’t notice the hands near the torso until another encounter with the large animal the next day.) The creature was very frightening to look at and could almost be a cross between a large bat and a excessively large furry human. I believe the most accurate description would be that given by some of the local towns folk, whom later had the misfortune of encountering the beast and naming it “Batsquatch."

It is a pretty spectacular yarn, and considering the report is written very much in a short story format and includes other dramatic elements such as the witness deciding to delete their e-mail address because they believed they were being followed and tracked down by nefarious agencies, as well as the fact that it was posted on an Internet forum directly related to the Batsquatch, it seems likely that this could be simply a creepypasta story. Indeed, the report has not been given a lot of veracity, and could very well be a hoax, but it is curious all the same and seems worth mentioning.

Supposed sightings of the Batsquatch have persisted all the way up into later years, and don’t even always seem to be confined to Washington state. In 2009, hikers on Mt. Shasta in northern California purportedly were frightened to see a flying humanoid with a bat-like face come flying out of a cave on the mountainside, which one of the witnesses would describe:

Me and my friend were hiking around Mt. Shasta and out of one of the crevices, flew out this big creature. I mean this thing was huge. It was as tall as a man, as stocky as Hulk Hogan and had leathery wings. I believe the wing span was at least 50 feet from one end to the other. I was holding up my camera, but was paralyzed with fear as this thing flew by. I didn’t get a picture, sorry. What do you think this might be? Could it have been a pterodactyl? It was flying or gliding fast, it seemed to have a head of a bat. Thinking about it, it doesn’t have the head of a pterodactyl, I just saw a picture of a pterodactyl and the heads are not similar. I would think it had the head of a bat or maybe more like a fox. The damn thing finally flew into a clump of trees and vanished. I heard you guys might be going back to Mt. Shasta, if you do, please look out for this thing.

Curiously, although the Batsquatch as we know it seems to inhabit the northwest corner of the United States and emerges in the 1980s with the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, there are some strikingly similar reports that were made in the 1970s all the way over in Texas. In January of 1976 there was a spate of sightings over a span of 2 weeks, such as the case of brothers David and John Daut, who were driving along a rural road in the Rio Grande Valley when a bat-winged humanoid with a head reminiscent of a wolf and estimated as being 8-10 feet tall landed in front of them, forcing them to screech to a halt. As they tried to back up away from the nightmarish creature, it loped forward as if about to attack, only to alight into the air and fly over them with an audible whooshing of its wings.

In another case a father and son claimed to have been out hunting deer in Hidalgo County, near Houston, when the creature had swooped down to grab the father and try to carry him off, with the man only barely managing to escape when the son shot at it with his rifle. The man was apparently left shaken and with broken ribs and deep talon marks on his body. All things told, a total of 10 people would claim to see the creature, including two police officers. It is unclear if these encounters have anything to do with the Batsquatch, but they are similar enough to be intriguing.

With all of this outlandish talk of flying Bat Men we are left to wonder just what the creature or creatures could possibly be, and there have been plenty of theories that range from the plausible to the decidedly fringe. One idea is that this is some genuine undiscovered creature that has been flushed from its habitat by the eruption of the volcano, but if this is so then what kind of animal could it possibly be and why has it never been seen before? Another is that this might be something more supernatural in nature, perhaps some demon or portent of doom or specter similar to the Mothman, with its presence in the region directly related to the eruption or even the cause of it. Yet another idea is that the eruption was violent enough to tear a hole in the fabric between two dimensions, and that this beast managed to come through this rift into our world. Then of course maybe this all began as a practical joke and got a bit out of hand, the Batsquatch nothing but lies and hoaxes.

One problem making things difficult for anyone looking for answers is that there are so few sightings, and many of these are of questionable reliability and veracity, with no way to corroborate them. They are entertaining and spooky tales, but we aren’t really left with much to go on and they merely serve to fire up the imagination. With something as far-out and outlandish as giant bat-winged ape creatures with this smattering of sporadic sightings there just doesn’t seem to be not much to work with, and this is a creature that is probably doomed to remain in the realm of urban legends. Regardless, the Batsquatch is still a delightfully weird case that certainly ranks up there among the most bizarre mystery creatures.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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