Digging for Proof of Sasquatch

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 27th, 2007

Kathy Strain Bigfoot

On the trail of Bigfoot are Bob and Kathy Strain of Jamestown, seen here with a wooden replica of the creature and 14-inch castings of footprints left in the Willow Creek area after a famous 1967 sighting in Humbolt County.
Amy Alonzo/The Union Democrat

Archaeologist digs for proof of Sasquatch
Published: January 26, 2007
By Chris Bateman
Union Democrat

BY DAY SHE’S the Stanislaus National Forest’s archaeologist. With a master’s degree in anthropology, she makes sure prehistoric Native American sites in the woods are protected. She’s also the forest’s liaison with the Me-Wuk tribe.

But it’s what Kathy Strain does in her spare time that separates her from Forest Service colleagues.

She’s a Bigfooter. A student of Sasquatch. A yearner for Yeti. A true believer.

“A strong case can be made that Bigfoot exists,” said Strain, whose Jamestown-area home includes a room full of books, videos, cast footprints, notes and reports on the creature. “I’ve seen things I have no other explanation for.”

Not only that, but she says Tuolumne County and the forest she works on are among the huge creature’s favorite haunts. She has catalogued scores of eyewitness accounts, has discovered a Sasquatch “nest” near Twain Harte and swears she was once close enough to the creature that dirt was still falling from the sides of deep,14-inch footprints it left behind.

AND GET THIS: Strain is not crazy.

In fact, her scientific credentials and employment by a huge, dead-serious and not terribly imaginative federal agency boost her stock as a guest speaker at Bigfoot conferences.

But when she walks into the forest’s Greenley Road headquarters, Strain leaves Sasquatch at the door.

She doesn’t demand that wide swaths of timberland be set aside as Bigfoot habitat. Nor does she hector forest wildlife biologists with evidence or accounts she has collected.

“Kathy has been an excellent archaeologist and employee,” confirmed her boss, Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn. “And, at least in my four and a half years here, I have had no reports of Yeti conversations in the workplace.”

For the record, Quinn added, the forest has “no position” on Bigfoot.

Which, less restrained Bigfooters might say, is like Australia having no position on kangaroos.

NEXT TO THE deep woods near the Oregon border, Strain says, the Stanislaus Forest area is the nation’s hottest Bigfoot spot. In the past six years she has documented more than 200 sightings and witness accounts.

A few have come from co-workers looking to unburden themselves — after quitting time, of course — of long-held Bigfoot tales. Take the wildlife biologist who never forgot his 1993 trip to Bloomer Lake, above Pinecrest.

“An animal-creature mythological being,” is how this field worker described the gaping, hairy 6-foot creature he glimpsed. Even after it had disappeared, leaving a dismembered deer behind, he felt “that sixth sense of a presence” nearby.

“Pretty cool and funky,” was his distinctly unscientific summation.

But this is only a cube in a Bigfoot iceberg, Strain said.

Local sightings range from below Knights Ferry (a “hairy giant” seen by horsemen in the late 1890s) to the Emigrant Wilderness, apparently popular summer range for Sasquatch. And, according to Me-Wuk lore collected by Strain, a hulking creature called “Yayali” has roamed these mountains for hundreds of years.

WANT TO see one?

“I’d try the Pinecrest-Strawberry area,” Strain suggested, adding that it has been an epicenter for sightings over the years.

But it’s not like she’s seen any there.

In more than 20 years of looking, in fact, Strain hasn’t seen Bigfoot anywhere. She’s like an ornithologist who has never seen a bird or an entomologist still looking for her first bug.

“Anyone who sees one is incredibly lucky,” she admitted, describing an elusive animal with a remarkable ability to blend in with its surroundings.

That said, the Pinecrest area — at least in contrast with other places — fairly teems with Sasquatch. At least it did in January of 1963, when The Union Democrat carried this headline:

“Report: 10 Ft. Shrieking Monster.”

“There was definitely some creature in the woods,” said Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Huntley, who had responded with partner Elbert Miller to reports of “a 10-foot tall man — the most awful thing I have ever seen” at a gravel pit near the high-country subdivision of Peter Pam.

The two officers went to the pit, heard eerie shrieking, saw trees shaking violently, and at one point radioed that “It’s heading right toward the car. Here it comes.”

ALAS, IT NEVER came. A few days later, it was dismissed as a bear.

And the guy who reported the monster? “You’ll think I’m crazy,” he told deputies, refusing to identify himself. “You’ll put me in a straitjacket.”

Which begs a question: Why is Strain, a 38-year-old establishment scientist whose life is otherwise devoid of fringe trappings, willing to take a chance on that Bigfoot straitjacket?

Blame “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” a low-budget 1973 documentary on a hairy creature roaming the Arkansas backwoods.

“I was about 7 years old,” said Strain, who grew up in the Porterville area. “I was fascinated.”

By high school, completely hooked, she asked a stunned guidance counselor what college major might qualify her for a career in Bigfoot research. “Anthropology” was the answer.

Two Cal State Bakersfield degrees later, Strain found that paying jobs in Sasquatch science were as scarce as the creature itself and went to work for the Forest Service.

IN THE 16 YEARS since, she’s invested thousands of off-work hours in Bigfoot. She has collected hundreds of stories from tribal elders and has researched 1,000-year-old pictographs of what the Yokuts Indians called “Hairy Man.”

Strain is now in demand as a guest speaker, is writing a Bigfoot book, chairs the Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers and in March will appear on a TV show called “Science Meets Legend.” Her license plate reads GOTYETI, a sculpted Bigfoot stands at her front door and a good number of her weekends are spent in the woods, waiting with her husband and teenage sons for the elusive Sasquatch.

“I’d say my chances are good,” she said. “After all, Bob saw one.”

Sure enough, retired Folsom firefighter Bob Strain says he saw a 10-foot, 800-pound upright creature while hunting in Idaho’s Salmon Wilderness in 1975. “I was watching him through my rifle scope from 400 yards,” said Strain, who met Kathy at a 2003 Bigfoot conference. “But, no, I didn’t pull the trigger.”

Had he done so, Bob might have changed history: A continuing mystery is why, if Bigfoot really does exist, a carcass has never been found.

“THAT WILL HAPPEN,” assured Kathy. “Sooner or later one will be hit by a car or truck, or someone will discover a body.”

Now, however, she wants to see a live Sasquatch. And if one comes her way, she’ll be ready: Camping with the Strains includes not only tents, barbecue grills and s’mores, but thousands of dollars’ worth of night-vision, audio, video and photographic equipment.

So don’t look for any repeat of those hazy, grainy 1960s creature-feature shots from Bob and Kathy. If they film Bigfoot, you’ll see traces of breakfast in his teeth.

Their odds? An anthropologist and Sasquatch researcher once estimated that about 2,000 live in the Washington, Oregon and California woods. Prorate that and it’s, what, a dozen, maybe 20 on the Stanislaus Forest?

“I’m not going there,” said Strain. “Populations change too much to be tied to a number.” B

ut in May of 2001, at least one Bigfoot was in the Twain Harte area: Strain and another researcher were driving on a road in the area when they noticed a just-snapped, still-moving 3-inch-thick tree.

She and her friend followed fresh, crumbling 14-inch prints to a “nest” of bent trees and snapped limbs. Inside, she said, was a 7-foot “body imprint” in the leaves and moss.

“IT APPEARS a lone Sasquatch was occupying the area,” concluded Strain’s four-page, all-business report on the nest, apparently abandoned after the May foray.

Then there was her August 2004 expedition on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “We were walking along a road with night-vision goggles,” she remembers. “We heard noises from both sides and, as we got closer, an 8-foot-tall, upright creature came from behind a tree to look at us. We just froze.”

A Bigfoot sighting? Not for this scientist.

“By the time we moved closer, it was gone,” Strain said. “Unless I see the whites of its eyes, I’m not going to count it.”

And if she ever does look into the whites of those mysterious eyes — and gets it all in high-def?

Well, then maybe we can talk about setting aside some habitat. (Seen any strange eyes in the dark lately? Or any other evidence of Bigfoot? Call the Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers at (866) 415-2427. And right after that, contact Chris Bateman at cbateman@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4528).Chris Bateman

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

14 Responses to “Digging for Proof of Sasquatch”

  1. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    Kathy is one of the foremost researchers in the search. I would so much rather the public put her face to the search than idiots like Biscardi and our recent self proclaimed authority from the Slyvanic or any other media hound.

    No, I don’t personally know Kathy, nor have I personally talked to her. I have chatted with her a time or two on the BFF and in the forum based discussions. She is knowledgeable, professional and curious. More importantly, she weighs evidence without bias, assumptions and preformed theories.

    There are a few people besides me in this world I would love to see get the chance to see or capture the creature/proof and Kathy is at the top of the list.

    People who love the search and do so with integrity, deserve the reward of satisfaction that would come with the find.

  2. fuzzy responds:

    Having spent weekends with Kathy and Bob Strain in high country wilderness, I can confirm their sincerity and dedication to the quest. Watch for Kathy’s book ~ it’ll be a doozy!

  3. joppa responds:

    I hope she has her sighting or finds the bones.

  4. mrbf2006 responds:

    I was fortunate enough to interview both Kathy and her husband Bob last Sunday on a show I co-host, The Sasquatch Experience, and they are both truly a treasure in this field of inquiry. Nicer people you could not talk to in this field either. The interview can be found here. I had a blast doing the interview and asking them different questions. They were really great guests, and I hope to have the opportunity to talk to them again. Truly salt-of-the-earth people.

  5. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Good luck to her.

    As an archaeologist myself, I can’t help thinking we are neglecting one of our best possible sources of information and evidence- that is, really digging for bigfoot.

    If, as many bigfoot stories and reports say, these creatures spend at least part of their time in caves, then archaeological excavation of caves would seem to be a sensible way to try and recover physical evidence. I seem to remember at least one report of someone coming across an ill bigfoot in a cave (anyone remember that and have a reference for it?).

    It is well known in prehistoric contexts that the best sites for finding skeletal evidence (for instance of the Neanderthals) is in caves, precisely because the bodies are typically protected from the elements. If bigfoot exists there must be some skeletal evidence somewhere and our best bet would be in caves or rockshelters.

    Having said all that, the fact that many such excavations of caves have been carried out in the context of native American archeology, and yet have not produced any bigfoot remains only adds fuel to the skeptics’ fires.

  6. mystery_man responds:

    This is the first time I had heard of Kathy Strain and I am very impressed with what I perceive to be her scientific, unbiased approach to the creature. There are no presumptions or preconceived notions from what I see here. She seems to be level headed about this research and prepared to go about it in a scientific way. I wish her much luck and would like to hear more about this intriguing researcher.

  7. rifleman responds:

    Someone with her qualifications would be hard to discredit. I hope she finds the evidence she seeks.

  8. richard_from_idaho responds:

    Idaho has few sightings of Bigfoot. I wonder why?

  9. Kathy Strain responds:

    Thank you everyone for the kind comments!

  10. ladd responds:

    Kudos to Bob and Kathy Strain for all their long, hard and dedicated research for this ever elusive hominid. It’s always a pleasure to hear about fine people such as these and I sincerely wish them much success in a really difficult endeavor. Hope to hear more about their ongoing investigations in the near future.

  11. DWA responds:

    First: having known about Kathy Strain’s work for a long time, I probably should apologize to her.

    I mean I have this tendency to go on about Krantz, Bindernagel, Meldrum, Swindler, Goodall, Schaller…and not Kathy. (OK, gimme a little break; it’s a long list to reiterate…:-D)

    This is a shining example of one of the true scientists that’s working on this. Part-time. In fact, the number of real scientists “dabbling” in the sasquatch probably ought to be included among the pieces of compelling evidence in favor! (Although I’m sure Kathy would disagree, being one of them.)

    Thanks, Kathy. Strength to your arm!

    (And her husband is yet more refutation of the common refrain, how come a hunter hasn’t shot one? Most hunters know better.)

  12. DWA responds:

    Much to respond to here.

    Things-in-the-woods: you’re right. But I guess I can see why this sort of inquiry isn’t going on. People are hoping somebody ELSE comes up with the evidence. Archeology is tough enough as is; usually there’s some idea of what you’ll find (and that you’ll find it) when you start looking. Don’t know why the evidence isn’t at that tipping point yet, although I have my guesses. But it doesn’t appear to be.

    richard_from_idaho: You need to bring some friends out there! Idaho is one of the most sparsely populated states. That’s gonna cut into your sightings right there. Not like the habitat doesn’t exist. But not like the animal is gonna come to the fringes of that habitat where people can see it too often, either.

    I admit a clear bias: I want the animal to exist. But the proof has to be there to convince me. Real people with no fame lust or axes to grind seeing this animal and looking for it give me the hope (bias) that the evidence (science) points to something real.

  13. fuzzy responds:

    Richard-from-Idaho sez: “Idaho has few sightings of Bigfoot.” There’s almost 50 sightings in the Archives, Richard, the most recent just last November!

  14. CDC responds:

    @ Richard from Idaho

    I believe the lack of sightings in Idaho has more to do with the smaller human population density.

    The fewer people in the woods, the fewer eyes to spot a Bigfoot.

    All the sightings all over the country require two things…a Bigfoot, and a human to see it.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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