By far one of the most well-known and well-sighted cryptids in history is none other than Bigfoot, also called Sasquatch, a veritable rock star of cryptozoology. These huge hairy hominids have been sighted and searched for all over North America, and there have often been some rather strange and curious accounts indeed. Yet, even more bizarre than sightings of Bigfoot are the occasional tales of people claiming to actually live in close contact with these mysterious creatures, making detailed observations and even forming bonds with them and communicating with them. It is a truly unique phenomenon that is every bit as bizarre as you might expect.
This particular phenomenon is typically called "Bigfoot habituation," the witnesses often referred to as "contactees," and one can almost envision it as sort of similar to Diane Fossey and her gorillas living together and studying each other. There are numerous such cases, and one fairly major account of Bigfoot habituation comes from the wildernesses of Washington state, in the United states, and revolves around a witness named Sali Sheppard-Wolford and her family, also being an account that perhaps transcends just hairy hominid encounters to truly catapult to the realms of high strangeness. Wolford lived near the town of Orting, Washington, in the 70s, along with her daughter, Autumn, around which much of the tale seems to gravitate. They lived here in a rustic, modest, somewhat disheveled cabin, described as “an 11x33 foot wooden box with holes in the floor and a cold water faucet,” surrounded by quaint wilderness and a sea of trees, but almost as soon as they moved in there was strangeness afoot, and Wolford says in an interview with Jeffery Pritchett, of The Church Of Mabus Radio Show, of this day:
When we walked out to view the river I knew we would live there. When we turned to walk back, my ex yelled, "Race ya!", and disappeared into the woods. I couldn't recall where we'd come out, so I took the most obvious path. I picked wild flowers as I walked, expecting him to do something to scare me, like jumping out from behind a bush and screaming. That was when I noticed the woods had become dark and completely quiet.
When I looked up, the sky was filled with ominous, rolling clouds. I shivered, and realized I was not alone, and the presence I felt was not that of my husband. I screamed his name and turned to run, then a terrible smell wafted by on the sodden breeze. The woods erupted behind me, and I turned toward the sound of ripping foliage. As I watched, something huge and hairy disappeared into the trees.
Charged by waves of fear, I began running again, but tripped over a root and landed in the wet sand. I lay still, catching my breath. When I looked up, I noticed the sky had returned to normal. Puffy, white clouds stretched peacefully in a pale, blue sky. Birds twittered from hidden perches. The fragrance of Spring in the forest filled the air. The presence was gone.
I summoned up my last bit of courage and retraced my steps until I came upon the spot where I had dropped my flowers. Off to the side of the path it looked like a tank had gone through the thick underbrush. Then the destruction just stopped. I looked for a place where something that large could have gone farther, but there was none. Broken branches hung like dead snakes as I looked up into the overhanging limbs. I spied a tuft of brown hair caught on one. It was too far up for me to reach, but I finally managed with the aid of a stick. When I pulled it down, I winced at the rancid smell I would never forget. That's when it hit me just how huge that shape had been. The funny thing was, it had run away just like I had. We had scared each other.
For the next four years the family was supposedly frequently visited by these Bigfoot-like creatures, with countless sightings of the beasts, and often they were seen by friends and neighbors as well. There were also many such incidents when she and her daughter were together. Wolford gives one such odd encounter thus:
We came around a bend on one of the trails behind our cabin and standing in the dappled shade of the trees were an adult Sasquatch, and his much smaller companion. I couldn't have moved if I'd wanted to. With my three-year-old daughter by my side, I stood frozen in place until the adult broke eye contact. He cocked his head and looked down at the fur coat I was wearing as if to say, " What kind of animal ARE you?" At that point my instincts kicked in. I spoke softly when I told Autumn her to, "turn around and walk, honey, don't run". When she was safely out of sight, I turned and followed. The two Sasquatch never moved.
When we returned to our cabin, we crawled into bed. My husband was livid when he came home from work because there was no wood to burn. I told him we were sick because I had no other excuse for being in bed. I did not remember that meeting on the trail for over 20 years. What I remember most is the eyes. Full of intelligence. They were about twice the size of my own, and no whites were visible. The color was brown, but they had a greenish tint, and were covered with a sort of convex lens like a cat. They were not the eyes of an animal. I had the feeling they looked deep into my soul.
Much of this was intertwined with a great deal of other mysterious occurrences, such as myriad light anomalies that appeared in the forest, and Wolford says that often the Sasquatch that appeared would have these orbs surrounding them, or wreaths of tiny lights like fireflies orbiting their heads and shoulders. She says of one such encounter:
One night I was looking out the kitchen window and saw the tall, dark form of a Sasquatch walking down the path toward the river. Surrounding his head and upper torso were tiny, twinkling white lights. When I tapped on the window, the lights went out like someone had flipped a switch, and he was swallowed in darkness.
It is all very bizarre, and besides sightings of mystery lights and Bigfoot, there was also the unusual detail in that Wolford claims that at the time she was also frequently visited by a spectral elderly Native American gentleman who she calls the “Dream Walker.” This stranger would apparently take her on journeys into the past, guiding her through the history of the Bigfoot of the valley, showing her the early life of the Native Chinook tribe and their beliefs and way of life. She says of these:
These journeys, for the most part, were quite disturbing for they showed me the fate of both the Natives, and the Sasquatch as they were pushed farther into the forest or violently disposed of. I was given hope for the future of Sasquatch in the form of Dream Walker's last words to me: "Remember all I have shown you and teach your young ones. I will not be here to remind you. Make sure the children believe in what they cannot touch or see. To one of you a girl child has been born. She has the sunbeams in her hair. One day I will come to her as I have come to you. She too will learn the ways of our people and Skookum.” It did not occur to me at the time that he was describing my daughter, Autumn.
As to who Dream Walker is I will answer you thus... In one of our later journeys it was the present time. He led me down the path behind Youdi's cabin. I walked around a curve on the path between the huge, rotting logs that had been deposited by some ancient flood and there stood the adult Sasquatch (I now know) I had met on the path. One minute he was there, then the next Dream Walker stood in his place. That answered the question for me, but I leave it to others to decide for themselves.
With so many incidents of utter strangeness surrounding them, one might think that Wolford might take Bigfoot to be some sort of spiritual entity or even an alien, but she seems to think that this is not necessarily the case, tending to believe that they are a form of prehistoric man, although she entertains other possibilities. Considering all of the other phenomena witnessed upon the land, Wolford was asked her opinion on whether the Bigfoot she had been seeing were related to the UFO phenomenon, to which she answers:
I've thought long and hard on this question. I don't know that there is a connection, but I wouldn't rule it out. The fact that we experienced both, along with many other anomalies, during our time in the valley could lead one to that conclusion, but the fact that so many strange things happened in one place could be caused by something else entirely. There are so many things that science seems to ignore, or can't explain. I've looked into the possibility of a vortex in that area, or a junction of ley lines. Native Americans have looked at certain areas near Mt. Rainier as sacred for centuries.
Sali Sheppard-Wolford has written extensively on these unusual experiences in her book, Valley of the Skookum: Four Years of Encounters with Bigfoot, if you want to know more. In another account we have the story of a Julie Scott, who lived also with her husband and two daughters in Pacific Northwest, in the northeast corner of Washington state, and who recounts her numerous dealings with what she calls “The Forest People.” As soon as they moved onto the property, Scott says they were met with a wide range of inexplicable occurrences, such as noises, huge shadows darting about in the moonlight, feelings of being watched, and others. It came to their attention that this was a tribe of Bigfoot-like creatures circling their abode and even following them around from place to place, composed of a predominant male, several females, juveniles and infants. As to why this clan had congregated around them, Scott says:
I believe they can "read" people and know their intentions, so they most likely saw us for who we really are and that we would never harm them. They also seem to like females, 3 adult ones in our home, and children, one small granddaughter at the time, 2 now. Territorial? Don't think so. We have had them on our property at 4 locations where we lived and now live.
These Bigfoot would apparently try to communicate with them through series of whoops, screams, grunts, growling, rock-knocking, tree-knocking, whistles, clapping, and others, and it was also said that they would often leave “gifts” for the family in the form of rocks, food, firewood, plants, feathers, sticks, and dead animals. This continuous contact would go on for a full 6 months, but Bigfoot researchers who descended upon the property were unable to get any good photographic evidence of the creatures or even get a good look at them. Of the possible nature of these creatures, it seems complicated, and the witness says:
I believe Bigfoot are flesh and blood creatures, but some can go in and out of dimensions. I say "some" because I believe they are different types of Bigfoot creatures ...having different abilities. They are not all they same. Some can "disappear" ...I've seen one do that with my own eyes. I believe they are wild-type of humans...more human then animal, like an ape. They have languages, which make them human. Animals have vocalizations, but not languages. This alone shows them to be human.
Scott has also written a book of her and her family’s extensive Bigfoot experiences called Visits from the Forest People: An Eyewitness Report of Extended Encounters with Bigfoot. There is also the account of a couple named Dusty and Lori Chandler, who live in a rural area with their three dogs near Carrollton, Georgia, a place covered with thick wooded areas and many ponds, lakes, and streams. The couple claims that for years their property has been visited by a family of Bigfoot, which they often leave food out for and have even tried to communicate with. An interesting detail is that these creatures make beds of packed down brush and pine needles, as well as strange wooden structures reminiscent of teepees or lean-tos on the property, and they also often leave various items as gifts to the family on occasion. In fact, there is a place on the property they call the “gift tree,” onto which is placed a container where the couple will place food items, which the Bigfoot would take and leave various items in return or conversely leave the container sprawled out the ground. K. Steven Monk, director of the Georgia Bigfoot Society, investigated the secluded Chandler property in August of 2012 and concluded:
From the numerous tree structures, footprints, bedding areas and trails in the pine straw that I observed on the Chandlers' property, it is evident that the Sasquatch are there. Also taken into account were the large number of footprints that I observed in the area, some of them fairly fresh. I have photos of some of these things and will be placing them here on the GBS website as I have time to do so. It was undoubtedly only the shyness and prowess of the creatures that prevented me from seeing one. The Chandlers have personally seen them on a number of occasions. There was no doubt in their minds that these creatures exist and are out there on their property in significant numbers.
Another very intriguing report was given on the site Pacwest Bigfoot by a witness calling himself “Gerald,” who claims that Bigfoot have been lurking about his home outside of the rugged rural town of Dunsmuir, California, for nearly a decade. According to the witness, just a month after he and his wife moved to the property there was strange activity in the vast, thick forest surrounding them in all directions. The first incident happened when his wife came to him in a panic saying that she had seen something very big and tall looming just past the fence line and seemingly intently studying the home. Gerald thought that it was either a trespasser or a bear, and took to keeping a rifle handy at all times just in case. Then he would learn that this was neither of the above, of which he says:
I was out burning (brush) when I’d seen them. I noticed some deer track, and some older black bear track I’d seen before. But, as I started walking over near the edge of the property I noticed a few impressions and one partial but clear print of a very wide heel, and I could make out some toes, barely. They were unmistakably human, well, what I thought as human because of the heel and toes. They were pretty large, but being a partial and it being soft wet soil I thought maybe it was just bigger because of the weight pushing outward as whoever walked along here in the rain.
That same late afternoon, early evening more like it, I was getting done and wrapping up the burning, that is when I decided to take a look at the footprint again and the other impressions. I ended up following them for about 30-40-feet or so into the woods. I looked up and realized how far I walked in and started looking around. It was a few seconds before I noticed it, but not 50-yards away into the darker part of the trees I saw, well, I noticed movement. Whoever, whatever it was was swaying or just moving back and forth from behind a tree. It was hard to see back there and it was getting pretty dark, but I could still see a human shape or a silhouette of someone peeking out from behind a tree.
I took a few more steps forward and then bang!, that thing, and I knew that could not be a person at that moment, shot right out and ran on what looked like all fours. But, even on all fours this thing seemed as tall as me, and it looked like, after a second or two it stood up and ran like you and I! It disappeared after just seconds after that, and I was left with a big fat question in my mind about what I just saw, and my heart racing and beating out of my chest. I turned and walked quickly, but calmly back to the house.
It soon turned out that there seemed to be more than one of these creatures, and they were frequently seen circling the property, always keeping beyond the fence and never fully coming out into the light. Some of these encounters were rather bizarre to say the least, such one day when the two of them were out walking in the woods when they heard what sounded like people chattering away in a foreign language neither of them could comprehend, which the witness would describe as “low and raspy and literally sounded like some type of crazy and mangled language."
On another occasion they watched in awe as a Bigfoot stepped out of the woods, walked right into their yard, which was highly unusual for them, and left there on the ground a line of three golf-ball sized rocks for reasons unknown, but which Gerald suspects was some sort of bizarre gift or show of peace. In the coming weeks the creatures made numerous appearances, and the couple took to leaving fruit out for them, noting that they did not seem to like oranges, always leaving them behind. For the most part the creatures were shy and harmless, not showing any signs of aggression, yet there was one occasion when he claims one of them made a frightening display, of which Gerald says:
One night when I was taking out the apples, again, but this time I was met with a grunt, a growl, and a bluff charge I believe. My wife was there, she was always there but stood back by the house. Ever since these things started coming around she would not venture to far out during the evening or at night, and I do not blame her, neither did I for the most part.
I was setting the apples down when I heard the grunt, and then, to the left of me a growl. My wife made a really weird like squeal or something and was pointing in the direction of the growl. There it was, a reddish-brown colored Bigfoot on all fours almost glaring at me. It slapped the the ground once I remember and let out another growl, then, and scaring me half to death, it suddenly stood up and jumped forward in my direction about 3-4 feet. I almost fell over backing up as fast as I did out of natural reflex.
It, the Bigfoot, did not continue any further forward, but it did not move off either, it seemed to be standing its ground. I walked backwards slowly until I reached the house and we both ran inside, and fast. That was the scariest moment we’d have while they were here.
As with all of these reports so far, no photographic evidence, nor any evidence really at all, has been submitted as of yet, making it all seem perhaps a bit suspect. If real, this case does perhaps give some insight into Bigfoot behavior, such as the leaving of “gifts,” the dislike of oranges, and the bluffing behavior that seems very reminiscent of what a gorilla might display. Without any evidence, however, we are left to merely speculate and wonder at what exactly is going on here. Lastly we get to a family in the state of Michigan, who claims that they have been feeding the Bigfoot living around their home in the area of Newaygo County for some time now, since 2009. The witness, a Robin Lynn Pfeifer, said to Discovery News that there is a group of 10 of the massive creatures regularly visiting them, the largest standing 9 and a half feet tall, and she also claims to feed them, saying, “They get fish every day, a bucket of fruit, a bucket of dry dog food. Their favorite thing is blueberry bagels. If I'm not baking them, I go to different stores to buy them.” Who doesn't like blueberry bagels, eh? She has also said that she has taken many plaster casts of their enormous footprints, but that they are too shy and clever to be photographed, which sounds pretty convenient. Interestingly, these Bigfoot are also said to make wooden structures in the woods and are apparently found of braiding rope left out, and they are said to be big fans of knocking pieces of wood together, called “wood knocking.” Vocalizations resembling some form of language are purportedly also often heard.
Of course, like with every single one of these cases, if there was such a group of very large, primate-like beasts regularly and predictably roaming about, then they should at least leave some sort of physical evidence, such as hairs, scat, audio recordings, and photographs, but there is nothing like that here at all. In the total void of such evidence it is understandable that skepticism should be aimed at such accounts. After all, if someone is in regular contact with these beasts, shouldn’t they be in a position to provide something more than mere fanciful stories? The idea of Bigfoot habituation is so outlandish and without evidence that even major cryptozoologists shed doubt on the veracity of it all, with the famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman himself stating:
All the Bigfoot contactees -- for some reason they never take photographs.There’s a lot of interest in finding these things, but we have to look of the credibility of the people feeding us the stories. I'm always careful of two kinds of people, the debunkers who have no interest and the true believers who will not bring any critical thinking. They really believe they are having these experiences. I don't know if its hallucinations or a psychological state.
Is that what all of this is, just hallucinations, overactive imaginations, mental issues, or downright fraud? If any of it is real then where is the evidence? These people are supposedly in close contact with Bigfoot that are assimilated to them and not shy about approaching or making their presence known, so why are we left with only stories? Such close interactions with these elusive beasts could reveal the zoological discovery of the century, and shed an incredible amount of light on a phenomenon that has been long confined to the fringe, but no matter how amazing these habituation contactees' stories are, we are still left in the dark. Why is that? Whatever you believe and whatever veracity any of these reports have, one thing can definately be said for sure, and that is they are some of the most bonkers, surreal types of Bigfoot encounters there are.