The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Bigfoot revisited: Pyle updates his work


August 31, 2017

I’m really lucky. One of the pleasures of my job is getting to sit down with Grays River writer Robert Michael Pyle and learn about his projects firsthand. Most recently, I got to hear about about the reissue of his 1995 book, Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide, which also contains some new material.

I was fascinated.

Fortunately, Wahkiakum County residents will get a chance to do the same later this year. Pyle, who has written 20 books, is scheduled to do a reading and sign copies of Where Bigfoot Walks at the Skamokawa Resort Conference Center on October 14 at 7 p.m. in an event sponsored by the Friends of Skamokawa.

Here is just a taste of what Pyle told me:

“The subject of Bigfoot was one that I felt hadn’t been treated in a way that I would do it,” Pyle said. “Books were either by true believers or true skeptics. And so I applied for the Guggenheim grant, which allowed me to spend months reading and talking to people and immersing myself in Bigfoot culture.

“I think I got the Guggenheim because they were interested in the fact that I wasn’t trying to find Bigfoot,” Pyle said. “I wasn’t trying to prove it or disprove it. I wasn’t an advocate, I’m not a dyed in the wool skeptic. I take the skeptical approach to it, of course, in the proper sense of the word. I just wanted to explore this marvelous emanation of Northwest culture, talking about the ancient Native American presence—that’s how I first came to know about it and become really interested. I was lucky to study with Bill Holm, the great scholar of Northwest Indian art and culture at the University of Washington. I remember hearing him say that all of the Indians that he was acquainted with had a Bigfoot figure. If you talk to them now, the ones that still live in the forest and by the waters, they think it’s foolish that we even question its existence. It’s not a matter of putting it in the category of spirit animals, it’s an animal along with skunk and weasel and marten.

“Every culture has a giant myth,” he said. “The big difference between this giant lore and most giant lore is that this one might actually exist. Along with four possible species in Asia that have been posited, one of which is almost accepted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

“I am a biologist and I haven’t seen it,” Pyle said. “What I have seen is tracks three times, and I have a lot of first person acquaintance with sober minded people who claim to have seen it. I’ve seen sufficient evidence to make it seem fool hardy to me to dismiss it out of hand and from my own experiences I do not have a better hypothesis. However I have not seen it, so I will not say I believe in it, because I’m a trained scientist.”

After his immersion in “Sasquatch studies,” Pyle decided that he needed to step into the wildness of the Dark Divide in western Washington, which he also wrote about. Wikipedia describes it as 76,000 acres of intact wilderness.

“I didn’t go to look for Bigfoot,” Pyle said, “I wanted to get a sense of what this was about. I realized the heart of the book was going to be about going into the Dark Divide, this marvelous, wild, unprotected land. If the book has one agenda, it is that I would like to see the Dark Divide fully protected in my time.”


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