Darkness looms large at age twelve. Bone chilling cold, a still, thick darkness at arms reach, and closing in. A cold hungering something living out there. It’s the reason children close their closets at night, and double lock the front doors.
It should have been a simple hike. We were at that age; talk often turned to the important things in life, girls, God, sex, Sasquatch. In the early nineteen seventies, talk of Bigfoot was everywhere.
There was no water piped to the mobile home we were camping in. The three of us set out before dusk to fill water jugs from the local spring. Three teenage boys on family vacation from junior high school. As boys do, we took our time getting to our destination. Slowed by conversation about girls and dreams, observations of bugs and slugs, we made our way to the wooden tank which housed the water. Filling jugs with water is hard work, the jugs grow heavy, and the heat and humidity grow proportionally. Boys at rest in the presence of water slow proportionally.
The sun continued to set. As often happens, the minute the sun hit the horizon, night was upon us. We set out to return to the mobile home. We couldn’t find the trail. Though we’d done this hike morning and evening for a week, still every rabbit and deer trail looked the same. We circled the wooden tank completely. No trail looked familiar; no light shone in the distance, no direction seemed the right direction to go.
As we walked around in search of the trail leading home, we grew in panic and fear. Normally, camping out on a warm summer night is every kids dream. Not when you are lost, away from parents, food and comfort, and in the presence of panic, fear, and whatever lay just beyond that small tree in the distance.
As we listened for voices from home, we heard a different sound very close at hand. A trampling through brush, then, a loud cracking of a stick. To make that much sound, a large stick must be broken. To break a large stick must take an animal of significant weight. Bigfoot was upon us.
We continued to circle, increasing in doubt and panic. Fear came upon us wave after wave, as we imagined (or didn’t?) what was stocking us. In the nick of time, we heard noise coming up toward us. The girls had come, lanterns in hand, to find us.
To this day, when I hear tales of Bigfoot, for the most part, I scoff. Yet something made those noises in the woods. An animal big enough to break large sticks. What if?