Yesterday I wrote a review of Lyle Blackburn's new Bigfoot-themed book, Boggy Creek Casebook. And, today, I'm reviewing another new book on Bigfoot. This one, however, is very different, even though the subject-matter - Bigfoot - is the same. The book is Where the Footprints End. The subtitle: High Strangeness and the Bigfoot Phenomenon. And, I should stress, this is Volume One of two volumes. Our authors are Joshua Cutchin and Timothy Renner. Their book revolves around what we might call the "supernatural Bigfoot." Indeed, within the field of Cryptozoology, it's fair to say there are two, primary approaches to the study of the Bigfoot enigma. It's a fact that most people in the arena of Bigfoot research are sure the creatures are just unclassified primates. Period. There are, however, those who say the creatures can turn invisible, and while coming across in a downright magical fashion. For many Sasquatch-seekers, the supernatural Bigfoot is the equivalent of the elephant in the room. But, not for Joshua and Timothy. As you'll now see.
For me, the most important thing about Where the Footprints End is the fact that its authors do make a fascinating case for their theory. There is no "filler" here. The book is written in a coherent, careful fashion; it's definitely not a sensational, over-the-top story for the tabloids at the local store. Rather, the book is filled with not just reports of Bigfoot and high-strangeness, but also with a great deal of history, well-thought-out theories, and an excellent appreciation and understanding of how folklore and reality can blend together in incredible ways. Appropriately for their subject-matter, and what is to come in the pages ahead, our authors begin by taking us back to 1973 and immersing us into a world of strange lights in the sky, of Men in Black-style figures creeping around, of altered states of mind, and of nightmarish dreams on the part of those unfortunate enough to have seen the Bigfoot creatures.
As we go along, we're treated to a great deal of Native American lore and its ties to Bigfoot. In fact, in the closing page of the Introduction, Cutchin and Renner state: "...cryptozoologists should abandon their fears of rejection regarding honest, if peculiar, testimony. Science will eventually catch up to their discipline, rather than vice versa - but only if they fully embrace the unpleasantness of 'weird Bigfoot' accounts, and learn to sit with mysteries from indigenous cultures." While increasing the controversy (and also increasing the blood-pressures of the "it's just an ape" group) a very good point is made: "How rare is it to see a Bigfoot, and how rare to see a UFO? Now what are the chances that both will be seen in the same general area within a few hours or even days? And yet, we get these reports with some frequency." The pair continue with an example secured by long-time Bigfoot-seeker Stan Gordon, who has also chronicled the weirder side of the Bigfoot mystery. There's something else, too.
If you know your Bigfoot legend and lore, you will also know of the almost legendary 1924 confrontation at "Ape Canyon," close to Mount St. Helens, Washington. The incident is an absolute classic in Cryptozoology and Bigfoot research. What you may not know is something that Cutchin and Renner tell us about the primary figure in the incident, Fred Beck: "[Beck] perceived his attackers as spirits, the accompanying thumps on the cabin wall as poltergeist behavior." The issue of poltergeist activity surfaces quite regularly in the pages of this book. In other words, even one of the most famous cases is tinged with aspects of the paranormal. Moving on, we're shown how, on occasion, electronic equipment falters, or completely screws up, when a Bigfoot is in the area. Ron Morehead, of the "Sierra Sounds" saga, tells his story concerning this particular issue. The "Green Man" and the likes of the magical "little folk" of centuries ago come into play, as do telepathy, Bigfoot's creepy laughter, mimicry and it's apparent penchant for accepting offerings from us. "Gifting," we might say. On this issue, Joshua and Timothy say this "...connects Bigfoot habituation to a much older folkloric concept: that of making offerings to spirits. Whether a saucer of milk left out to appease some household elves, or food left in the forest to appeal to the land spirits, humans have made offerings to otherworldly and unseen - or rare seen - entities since time immemorial."
The matter of infrasound comes into the story, too. Indeed, this part of the book is fascinating. There are far more than a few reports on record where witnesses in close proximity to Bigfoot have reported feeling inexplicably terrified, nauseous, confused, disoriented, dizzy, light-headed, and physically unable to move. Hyperventilation often sets in, too. And this is all before they have even seen the creature, or have any awareness that it’s in their direct vicinity. This may well be due to Infrasound. Infrasound is an extremely low frequency sound, one which is below the 20HZ mark, and which is undetectable to the human ear. A number of animals use infrasound as a means to communicate with each other. The long list includes giraffes, whales, and elephants. It’s a form of communication in the animal kingdom that can be highly effective for significant numbers of miles. There is another important aspect of infrasound: when it is directed at humans it can provoke a wealth of unsettling physical and psychological sensations, as well as hallucinations of both the audible and visual kind. Many are interpreted as supernatural events. Shape-shifting, Bigfoot's obsession with braiding horses, the apparent talent of the creatures to avoid the power of a bullet or several, the ability to cloak themselves (effectively making them unable to be seen by us, if they choose), and the afterlife and the human soul are all placed under the microscope.
In closing, I'll say this: there is enough genuinely weird material packed in this 292-pages-long book to make a very strong case that - whatever they might be - the Bigfoot are not just primates that have yet to be carefully cataloged. To what extent (if at all), however, those who investigate the mystery from a solely "flesh-and-blood" angle will come together with those who go down that supernatural pathway, I really don't know. My hope, though, is that everyone who has an interest in the Bigfoot debate will read Where the Footprints End, and will dispatch that elephant in the room to pastures new and faraway, and come together. I really think this book has the potential to do that.