Today, I'm going to share with you some fascinating material that goes back a century - and more, too. So, let's get moving. In a 1908 edition of the Alaska-Yukon Magazine, there appeared a fascinating story from one Frank E. Howard. It was an article that told of an incident that occurred during the summer months, just a few years previously. The location was a mountainous region on Alaska’s Malaspina Glacier, in which Howard was prospecting. As he negotiated the perilous glacier, Howard had a disastrous fall into a deep crevasse. Fortunately, Howard was not injured, but there was a problem. And, wouldn’t you just know it, it was a big one, too: there was simply no way for him to climb out the same way he had fallen in. So, there was just one option: he had to follow the crevasse, hoping that it would lead downhill and allow him to finally leave the crevasse and make his way down the glacier. Thankfully, and finally, it did exactly that. Howard told the magazine: “I arose and started down the slope with the idea of reaching the water and following along its margin while the tide was low, in search of some crevasse leading out into the open bay. I was sure the great cavern was crevassed to the surface at some point beyond.
“As I kept going ahead I noticed a gradual increase of light, and in a few more steps, I stood in a broad wall of blue light that came down from above and, looking up, I saw there was no clear opening to the surface. But objects were now revealed some distance around. “Then an object rose slowly out of the glimmer and took form – a spectral thing, with giant form, and lifelike movement. The object rose erect, a goliath in the shape of a man. Then, watching me with a slantwise glance, it walked obliquely from me, until its form faded in the gloom of the cavern.” It’s Howard’s final words that suggest strongly that the mighty creature was a Bigfoot: “With its shaggy light-colored fur and huge size, the creature in some ways resembled a bear with bluish gray fur, but that it had a roughly human form, and at all times walked erect.” Ed Ferrell, author of the book, Strange Stories of Alaska and the Yukon, says of the story: “There is no further record of Frank Howard. Yet his account is consistent with other reports of Bigfoot or Sasquatch.” Raincoast Sasquatch author, J. Robert Alley comments: “It seems plausible that this event may have happened in some form or another, as described…At any rate it is an intriguing tale, if not simply a good yarn, and Ferrell’s summation, of the creature described as ‘consistent with sasquatch’ seems quite appropriate.”
Moving on: it should not come as a surprise to learn that the vast wildernesses, thick forests, and massive mountain ranges of Russia are home to Bigfoot-type beasts. They are known to the local folk as Almasty. For some researchers, the creatures are unknown apes. For others, they are nothing less than still-surviving pockets of Neanderthals. Both scenarios are amazing, in terms of their potential implications. But, whatever the true identity of the Almasty, there’s very little doubt that it exists. The sheer number of witness reports makes that very clear. The Almasty is a creature that has a long history attached to it, something which also adds to the likelihood of it being a genuine animal of very ancient proportions. What is very possibly the earliest report on record of the hairy, giant, Almasty came from one Hans Schiltenberger. In the 1400s, Schiltenberger was taken prisoner by Turkish forces and was, as David Hatcher-Childress notes, placed “in the retinue of a Mongol prince named Egidi.” It transpires that upon his return to Europe in 1427, he began writing a book about his experiences with the Turks. It was a book that surfaced in 1430 and which is made highly notable by its reference to strange and savage creatures that Schiltenberger was told of, and which were said to live high in the Tien Shan Mountains of Mongolia, which border upon Russia. Schiltenberger’s translated words state:
“The inhabitants say that beyond the mountains is the beginning of a wasteland which lies at the edge of the earth. No one can survive there because the desert is populated by so many snakes and tigers. In the mountains themselves live wild people, who have nothing in common with other human beings. A pelt covers the entire body of these creatures. Only the hands and face are free of hair. They run around in the hills like animals and eat foliage and grass and whatever else they can find. The lord of the territory made Egidi a present of a couple of forest people, a man and a woman. They had been caught in the wilderness, together with three untamed horses the size of asses and all sorts of other animals which are not found in German lands and which I cannot put a name to.” another mystery, but also another hairy man-beast that existed in times long gone.
There is no doubt that Australia’s most famous cryptid ape is the Yowie. It resembles Bigfoot in both size and appearance to an incredibly close degree. It stands around seven to ten feet tall and is covered in a thick coat of hair. Far less famous, though no less fascinating than the Yowie, is Australia’s Wakki, also known as the Njmbin, the Junjudee, the Waladherahra, as well as by many other names, depending on the relevant Aborigine tribe that tells of its existence. Like the giant Yowie, the Wakki is covered in hair and walks upright. It rarely, if ever, however, exceeds five feet in height. One of the most fascinating accounts of an encounter with a Wakki was reported in the pages of a Sydney, Australia-based newspaper, The Empire. The date was April 17, 1871 and the story revolved around the encounter of one George Osborne, an employee of the Illawara Hotel, in Dapto, New South Wales. Osborne’s experience was related in the newspaper by himself, in his own, unaltered or edited words:
“On my way from Mr. Matthew Reen’s, coming down a range of about a half a mile behind Mr. John Graham’s residence, at Avondale, after sunset, my horse was startled at seeing an animal coming down a tree, which I thought at the moment to be an Aboriginal, and when it got to within eight feet of the ground it lost its grip and fell. My feelings at that moment were anything but happy, but although my horse was restless I endeavored to get a good glimpse of the animal by following it as it retreated until it disappeared into a gully. It somewhat resembled the shape of a man, according to the following description.” Osborne said of the animal: “Height, about five feet, slender proportioned, arms long, legs like a human being, only the feet being about eighteen inches long, and shaped like an iguana, with long toes, the muscles of the arms and chest being very well developed, back of the head straight, with the neck and body, but the front face projected forward, with monkey features, every particle of the body except the feet and face was covered with black hair, with a tan colored streak from the neck to the abdomen. While looking at me its eyes and mouth were in motion, after the fashion of a monkey.
“It walked quadruped fashion, but every few paces, it would turn around and look at me following it, supporting the body with two legs and one arm, while the other was placed across the hip. I also noticed that it had no tail.” Osborne concluded with a tantalizing statement that alluded to additional sightings of the creature: “It appears that two children named Summers saw the same animal or a similar one in the same locality about two years ago, but they say it was then only the size of a boy about thirteen or fourteen years old. Perhaps this was the same animal that Mr. B. Rixton saw at the Cordeaux River about five or six years ago.”
In 1885, what sounds very much like a Bigfoot was stumbled upon in the wilds of Oregon. It fired up the local press, who reported the following: “Much excitement has been created in the neighborhood of Lebanon, Oregon, recently over the discovery of a wild man in the mountains above that place, who is supposed to be the long lost John Mackentire. About four years ago Mackentire, of Lebanon, while out hunting in the mountains east of Albany with another man, mysteriously disappeared and no definite trace of him has ever yet been found. A few days ago a Mr. Fitzgerald and others, while hunting in the vicinity of the butte known as Bald Peter, situated in the Cascades, several miles above any settlement saw a man resembling the long-lost man, entirely destitute of clothing, who had grown as hairy as an animal, and was a complete wild man. He was eating the raw flesh of a deer when first seen, and they approached within a few yards before he saw them and fled. Isaac Banty saw this man in the same locality about two years ago. It is believed by many that the unfortunate man who was lost became deranged and has managed to find means of subsistence while wandering about in the mountains, probably finding shelter in some cave. A party of men is being organized to go in search of the man.”
The report is notable, since it implies a direct connection between the hair-covered creature and the strange disappearance of a pair of hunters. Of course, it’s absurd to imagine that either the vanished John Mackentire, or his colleague, could have sprouted a body of thick hair as a result of living wild in the woods for just a few years. Such as scenario is not just unlikely; it’s downright impossible. This aspect of the story does, however, provoke a very important question: might the hairy animal – and, quite possibly, others of its kind - have been directly responsible for the disappearance of the two men? It might seem an outlandish scenario to suggest. But, let’s look at the facts: when the creature was seen, it was “eating the raw flesh of a deer.” If the beast had a taste for the meat of animals, it may be the case that it also had a voracious appetite for human meat, too. Mackentire and his friend may not have vanished, after all. They just might have been…devoured and digested.
It is a fact that sightings of the mammoth Yetis of the Himalayas are far less prevalent than they were in decades long gone. There’s no doubt that the 1920s was a period of a number of intriguing encounters. A perfect example is the story of N.A. Tombazi, a British photographer who also happened to be a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. It was while at a height of around 15,000 feet on the Zemu Glacier, and at a distance of around 600 to 900 feet, that Tombazi spied something profoundly weird on the slopes. He later recorded his thoughts on this 1925 affair, which make for fascinating reading: “The intense glare and brightness of the snow prevented me from seeing anything for the first few seconds, but I soon spotted the ‘object’ referred to, about two to three hundred yards away down the valley to the east of our camp. Unquestionably, the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright and stopping occasionally to uproot or pull at some dwarf rhododendron bushes. It showed up dark against the snow and, as far as I could make out, wore no clothes. Within the next minute or so it had moved into some thick scrub and was lost to view.”
Unfortunately, as Tombazi admitted, the brief sighting of the beast did not give him the opportunity to focus his “telephoto camera” on it, something which would surely have offered a far more detailed study of the creature, had he been able to do so. Nevertheless, the encounter was not entirely over. A few hours later, and as Tombazi began his descent, he made a detour to where the creature was seen. Although he did not see the thing again, he did find its footrpints. Back to Tombazi: “I examined the footprints which were clearly visible on the surface of the snow. They were similar in shape to those of a man, but only six to seven inches long by four inches wide at the broadest part of the foot. The marks of five distinct toes and of the instep were perfectly clear, but the trace of the heel was indistinct, and the little that could be seen of it appeared to narrow down to a point.”
Tombazi continued with his description of the prints: “I counted fifteen such footprints at regular intervals ranging from one-and-a-half to two feet. The prints were undoubtedly of a biped, the order of the spoor having no characteristics whatever of any imaginable quadruped. Dense rhododendron scrub prevented any further investigations as to the direction of the footprints, and threatening weather compelled me to resume the march. From enquiries I made a few days later at Yoksun, on my return journey, I gathered that no man had gone in the direction of Jongri since the beginning of the year.” John Napier, a noted authority on unknown apes, suggested that what Tombazi saw may have been a bear. Napier said of the tracks: “The dimensions and the indistinct narrow heel-print suggest as much.” On the other hand, we need to keep in mind Tombazi’s very own words. Yes, bears can walk on their hind legs. Tombazi’s comments on what he saw, however, describe something very much unlike a bear: “…the figure in outline was exactly like a human being, walking upright...the prints were undoubtedly of a biped, the order of the spoor having no characteristics whatever of any imaginable quadruped.”
In 1870, a California-based newspaper, the Antioch Ledger, published the fascinating account of a man named de Groot, a hunter who may very well have had a close encounter of the large and hairy kind. The incident reportedly occurred in the previous year, 1869 at Orestimba Creek, Stanislaus County, California. As with many of the accounts cited in this book, it clearly demonstrates that sightings of anomalous, large apes in the United States are nothing new. de Groot said: “Last fall I was hunting in the mountains about 20 miles south of here, and camped five or six days in one place, as I have done every season for the past 15 years. Several times I returned to camp, after a hunt, and saw that the ashes and charred sticks from the fireplace had been scattered about. An old hunter notices such things, and very soon gets curious to know the cause. Although my bedding and traps and little stores were not disturbed, as I could see, I was anxious to learn who or what it was that so regularly visited my camp, for clearly the half burnt sticks and cinders could not scatter themselves about.
“I saw no tracks near the camp, as the hard ground covered with leaves would show none. So I started in the circle around the place, and 300 yards off, in damp sand, I struck the tracks of a man’s feet, as I supposed, bare and of immense size. Now I was curious, sure, and I resolved to lay for the barefooted visitor. I accordingly took a position on the hillside, about 60 or 70 feet from the fire, and, securely hid in the brush, I waited and watched. Two hours and more I sat there and wondered if the owner of the feet would come again, and whether he imagined what an interest he had created in my inquiring mind, and finally what possessed him to be prowling about there with no shoes on. The fireplace was on my right, and the spot where I saw the track was on my left, hid by the bushes. It was in this direction that my attention was mostly directed, thinking the visitor would appear there, besides, it was easier to sit and face that way. Suddenly I was surprised by a shrill whistle, such as boys produced with two fingers under their tongues, and turning quickly, I ejaculated: ‘Good God!’ as I saw the object of my solicitude standing beside the fire and looking suspiciously around. It was the image of a man, but could not have been human.
“I was never so benumbed with astonishment before. The creature, whatever it was, stood fully 5 feet high, and disproportionately broad and square at the fore shoulders, with arms of great length. The legs were very short and the body long. The head was small compared with the rest of the creature, and appeared to be set upon the shoulders without a neck. The whole was covered with dark brown and cinnamon colored hair, quite long on some parts, that on the head standing in a shock and growing close down to the eyes, like a Digger Indian’s. “As I looked he threw his head back and whistled again, and then stopped and grabbed a stick from the fire. This he swung round, until the fire at the end had gone out, when he repeated the maneuver. I was dumb, almost, and could only look. Fifteen minutes I sat and watched him as he whistled and scattered my fire about. I could easily have put a bullet through his head, but why should I kill him? Having amused himself, apparently, as he desired, with my fire, he started to go, and, having gone a short distance returned, and was joined by another - a female, unmistakably when both turned and walked past me within 20 yards of where I sat, and disappeared in the brush.
“I could not have had a better opportunity for observing them, as they were unconscious of my presence. Their only object in visiting my camp seemed to be to amuse themselves with swinging lighted sticks around. I have told this story many times since then, and it has often raised an incredulous smile; but I have met one person who has seen the mysterious creatures, and a dozen of whom have come across their tracks at various places between here and Pacheco Pass.” Of particular interest in this case is the height of the Bigfoot. Or, rather, its profound lack of height. At just around five feet tall, it hardly resembled the classic, seven to eight feet tall Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest. Unless, of course, what de Root encountered was a juvenile Bigfoot. That the creature seemed to enjoy playing with the fire, and whistling at the same time, is, perhaps, an indication it was, indeed, a youngster, roaming around and having a bit of fun. And that's a good place to stop.