Inspite of nearly a century of alleged sightings of the Bigfoot or Sasquatch, and its distant Himalayan cousin, the Yeti, practically no material remains of this cryptid monster has been found till now, which can be subjected to a genetic examination. There is, obviously, no dearth of footprints or anecdotes of sightings and interactions. But we are yet to come across irrefutable evidence for the existence of this hairy giant.
Many questions have been raised over the years, but very few answers are out there. Is the Bigfoot really a hominid? If so, why does it’s eyes glow yellow or red at night, for eyeshine is not present in humans or any other known apes. The Bigfoot is widely believed to be a nocturnal animal, which is why most sightings of the cryptid occur after dusk. The same holds true for the Yeti as well. Yet, all known apes, including humans, are diurnal. Most importantly, though, how does the Bigfoot continue to keep itself hidden so effectively? Where does it nest? Where is its family – you know, the Bigfoot wife with her long, plaited hair, the adorable Bigfoot kids splashing around in the forest streams, and the many generations of Bigfoot granddaddies with their wizened grey beard? There really should have been a sizable Bigfoot population occupying a large geographical space, in order for it to remain a genetically distinct species. How is it possible for such a large population to escape detection, inspite of the diligent efforts of many to trace them?
Going by the native folklore and innumerable personal experiences, this elusive creature does not really "live" in the forest, but merely forages in it. Its real habitat lies within deep mountain caves and subterranean caverns which have their own, exotic ecosystems. Some of the earliest accounts of Bigfoot encounters with humans in British Columbia, were documented in 1929 by J.W. Burns, a Canadian government agent, who published an article in Maclean's magazine titled “Introducing B.C.'s Hairy Giants”. Burns had made diligent enquiries amongst the old Indians of the Harrison River Valley – the ground zero for Sasquatch sightings, located 130 km east of Vancouver - over a period of three years, during which time he came upon some strange, hair-raising tales related by people who had actual contact with these terrifying giants.
One of the stories was related by a person called Charley Victor, who belonged to the Skwah Reserve near Chilliwack. In his younger days he was known as one of the best hunters in the province and had many thrilling adventures. He knew a thing or two about the Sasquatch – "the hairy men" who inhabited the distant mountains. One of Charley’s stories was about how he had accidentally stumbled on to a Sasquatch hideout in the mountains. This is what he told Burns:
“Three young men and myself were picking salmonberries on a rocky mountain slope some five or six miles from the old town of Yale. In our search for berries we suddenly stumbled upon a large opening in the side of the mountain. This discovery greatly surprised all of us, for we knew every foot of the mountain, and never knew nor heard there was a cave in the vicinity. Outside the mouth of the cave there was an enormous boulder. We peered into the cavity but couldn’t see anything.
We gathered some pitchwood, lighted it and began to explore. But before we got very far from the entrance of the cave, we came upon a sort of stone house or enclosure; it was a crude affair. We couldn’t make a thorough examination, for our pitchwood kept going out. We left, intending to return in a couple of days and go on exploring. Old Indians, to whom we told the story of our discovery, warned us not to venture near the cave again, as it was surely occupied by the Sasquatch. That was the first time I heard about the hairy men that inhabit the mountains. We, however, disregarded the advice of the old men and sneaked off to explore the cave, but to our great disappointment found the boulder rolled back into its mouth and fitting it so nicely that you might suppose it had been made for that purpose.”
Charley, of course, was unable to dislodge the massive boulder that blocked the cave entrance, and thought of returning at a later time with sufficient dynamite to blow it up. Thankfully, for Burns, he did not take that course of action, and lived to regale him with his tales. The striking element in this account is that, the Sasquatch, in addition to being immensely strong, appears to be an intelligent being capable of stone masonry. Not only was the enormous boulder shaped in a way so as to perfectly block the cave entrance, but there was also a roughly hewn stone enclosure within the cave. Who knows what else lay remained concealed within its dark, unexplored interior. Apparently, we are dealing with a very clever entity here, an adept stone mason and a master of camouflage – not your regular bumbling ape.
Another story, this one from the dense Amazonian rainforests, sheds more light on the mysterious, hidden world of the Bigfoot. The Macuxi are an indigenous tribe living in the borderlands of Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela. Their oral legends claim that, till around 1907, the Macuxi people used to enter a cave, where they traveled for 13 -15 days, until they came to a subterranean land populated by giants who were around 3-4 meters (10 – 13 feet) tall. The giants had entrusted the Macuxi as the guardians of the entrance, but when the British explorers came to the Amazon in search of gold, some of them entered the cave, never to return. The giants became angry at the Macuxi for their negligence, and blocked up the entrance, which was forgotten over time.
The story about the Macuxi was translated into English from Spanish and published on the News Punch website by Royce Christyn. Here are some intriguing details from the article. (Since this was a translated article, it had some grammatical errors which I have corrected).
“Legends say that the Macuxi people, on entering the mysterious cave, descended on giants stairs, which were about 80 centimeters (2 and ½ feet) high . After the third day, they left behind their torches, and continued their journey “inside” the Earth, illuminated by the lights that were already present in the caves: giant lanterns, the size of a watermelon, shining like the sun. After 4-5 days of travel, they lost a significant amount of body mass, which allowed them to move much faster.
After traveling for 5 days, they passed by huge caverns whose roofs cannot be seen. In one of the chambers of the cave system, they saw four objects “like the sun”, which are impossible to look at, and whose purpose was unknown to the Macuxi. Within the Earth, there are places where food is produced. The Macuxi say cajúes fruits like, oak, mangos, bananas and some smaller plants can be seen after 6-7 days of travel. The farther the Macuxi people moved into the Earth, the larger were the areas of vegetation. But not all areas are green and prosperous. Some places are extremely dangerous - with boiling stone and streams - and should be avoided. At some places they had to move carefully as the mysterious “air” can cause people to “fly or float” around.
Continuing their journey, they reached a place within the Earth, where the giants lived. There, the Macuxi explorers ate giant produce such as apples the size of human heads, grapes the size of a human fist, and delicious, giant fish captured by the giants, which were given to the Macuxi as gifts. After stocking up on the food offered by the giants, the Macuxi explorers returned “home” to the world “outside”, helped by the giants of the inner world.”
This almost sounds like a passage from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. But, there is little chance that the Macuxi tribals would have been influenced by Verne’s novel. While there is nothing extraordinary about a dimly lit passageway with high stairs leading underground, what comes across as most surprising is the claim that there is abundant vegetation in the underworld dominion of the giants. How do fruit producing trees grow in a region where sunlight is practically absent? Do the “Sun-like glowing objects”, that the Macuxi saw inside some of the chambers, provide the “solar” energy for photosynthesis? Was this an artificially engineered underworld paradise that the giants built for themselves?
It is also somewhat unusual to know that the Macuxi had a give-and-take relationship with the giants, which runs counter to the dominant imagery of the Bigfoot as being somewhat frightening entities who avoid human contact. J.W.Burns had narrated another story he had heard from the old Native American named Victor Charley. At one time Charley was bathing in a small lake near Yale, along with some of his friends. While he was dressing, suddenly from behind a rock, only a few feet away, stepped out a nude hairy man. “Oh! he was a big, big man!” said the old hunter. “He looked at me for a moment, his eyes were so kind-looking that I was about to speak to him, when he turned about and walked into the forest.” A Bigfoot radiating warmth and tranquility? Do they carry their yoga mats with them as well?
It reminded me of a Yeti story from the Himalayas in which the Yeti acted as a kind, protective creature. In 1938, a report was filed by Captain V. d' Auvergne, formerly one of the curators of Calcutta's Victoria Memorial, and a highly decorated military officer. While working in the higher elevations of Tibet, Captain d'Auvergne had momentarily lost his vision during a sudden snowstorm and could have died of hypothermia. He claimed that a 9-foot tall, whitish-gray, hair-covered figure sheltered and cared for him from the worst of it. When the captain recovered sufficiently to have a sense of his surroundings, the creature had disappeared.
If the Yeti or Bigfoot is capable of displaying kindness towards humans, then why do we hear so many accounts of Bigfoot chasing people, throwing rocks at them or trying to wreck their houses? Is it a form of territorial marking or are they simply trying to shoo people away from the camouflged portals that lead to their exotic underground realm? Perhaps a bit of both?
If we take the Macuxi legend about the giants at face value, keeping our skepticism at bay, then it helps to clarify some of the most vexing questions about the Bigfoot mystery. If the Bigfoot’s habitat is in a dimly lit subterranean world, then they would, quite certainly, be gifted with excellent night vision and, therefore, emerge from this underground realm mainly at night. Moreover, if most of their dietary needs is supplied by the vegetation growing in their underground base, then perhaps, the only reasons why they would come out is to look for animal protein, some supplementary vitamins, and, maybe, just to stretch out a little under the vast starry sky. Also, if their primary habitat is located underground, then this is where they live, eat, grow, procreate and die. Which means that it would be practically impossible to find large clusters of Bigfoot families, traces of nesting sites or their skeletal remains, in the regions where they have been frequently spotted.
The idea of an underground world populated by giants can be found in the legends of many ancient cultures. The Greek historians claimed that the one-eyed, lawless giants called Cyclopes lived in enormous subterranean caverns located under Mount Etna and elsewhere. They were expert blacksmiths, who had forged the weapons of the gods, and were also great builders. Some of the massive walls of the ancient cities of Greece and Italy, which were built with huge, irregular stone blocks, were said to be the work of the Cyclopes and are referred to as "Cyclopian Walls" or "Cyclopian masonry".
In Norse legends, the home of the giants was called Jotunheim, a land of frost and darkness. The giants were generally described living inside caves in the mountains or in subterranean grottoes located below the roots of the giant ash-tree Yggdrasil. They were a wicked race, who hated the the gods or Aesir, and tried all in their power to injure them and the men of the earth, whom the Aesir loved and cared for. Interestingly, even the giants of Norse legends were portrayed as exceptional builders. When the Aesir wanted to build a fortress around Asgard, “the hugest, strongest, finest fortress that was ever built”, they employed the services of a mighty man, who was actually a giant in disguise. The giant announced himself as a "builder of strong towers", and promised to raise a castle so strong that it could never be broken into by the giants. He succeeded in his endeavour to build the impenetrable castle in one short winter, using stones “as big as the mountains of the earth". However, his cunning plans to marry the goddess Freia - the light and life of heaven - and take away the Sun and the Moon - the light and life of men, the children of the Aesir - as payment for his services, was thwarted by the guile of Loki.
Apparently, the legends of the giants are inextricably linked with the mystery of the wild, hairly, nocturnal, biped creatures that roam the dense forests and inccessible mountain terrains of the world. It may be misleading, however, to portray the Bigfoot, Yeti or similar cryptids as some kind of extinct species of ape such as the Gigantopithecus blacki, or extinct human species like Paranthropus robustus, Homo erectus, Neanderthal etc. The Bigfoot seems to have no relation to either humans or primates. It is unlike any other creature, extinct or living. It appears to be an “otherwordly being” that is endowed with supernatural powers such as the ability to disappear and shapeshift at will. According to Kelsey Charlie – a councillor of the Sts'ailes people, who have lived in the Harrison River Valley for at least 10,000 years - the creature can change from its physical form to a rock, tree or even another animal. “My grandpa used to say, ‘The slollicum is a shapeshifter and can walk in the two realms, the spiritual and the physical. That's why you'll never catch him,’” he said. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Bigfoot can paralyze a person simply by its gaze - a frightening trait it shares with the Himalayan Yeti.
David Bakara is a longtime Bigfoot researcher who established the Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum in Blue Ridge, Georgia, USA, in 2013. Many years ago, he saw a couple of Bigfoots with the help of a thermal camera, near the Florida Everglades. He believes that Bigfoot has paranormal roots, and that, “these things are some kind of spirits that can come and go. A lot of very good witnesses have seen these things just like vanish right in front of them.” “In my opinion, they're just not a natural animal to this world,” he says. “It's an animal that didn't come to Earth through normal, natural processes. That's the best I can tell you.”
My thoughts resonate with those of Bakara’s, going by what I have read till now. These hairly, elusive giants appear to be temporary visitors to our dimension, and they don’t really want to interact with humans. They are best left alone. While photographs can help in dispelling the doubts about their existence, many have warned that the very sight of this super predator fills one with such a chilling fright, that the last thing on your mind is to whip out the camera, aim it towards the beast, and go “say cheese!” Perhaps, Bigfoot-like creatures are destined to remain outside the ambit of scientific studies and occupy the fringe, inexplicable, spaces of the paranormal spectrum, forever teasing us with their shadowy glimpses and enormous footprints, until the time they, themselves, decide to make their existence known to the world at large.
 J. W. BURNS, "Introducing B. C.’s Hairy Giants", Maclean's magazine, April 1 1929, https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1929/4/1/introducing-b-cs-hairy-giants
 Royce Christyn, "Amazon Indians Say Earth Has A Subterranean World Underground" News Punch, September 18, 2015, https://newspunch.com/amazon-indians-say-earth-has-a-subterranean-world-underground/
 Abbie Farwell Brown, "In the Days of Giants: A Book of Norse Tales", 1902.
 Lisa Kadane, "The true origin of Sasquatch", BBC, 22nd July 2022, https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20220720-the-true-origin-of-sasquatch
 Nathan Chandler, "What's the Difference Between Sasquatch and Bigfoot?", Howstuffworks, Apr 9, 2020, https://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/strange-creatures/sasquatch-bigfoot-difference.htm