I recently had the chance to sit down with one of my favorite authors, noted ecologist and nature writer Robert Michael Pyle, to discuss one of my favorite things: Bigfoot.
His seminal study “Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide” was recently republished with new, updated material.
I first had the chance to chat with Pyle several years ago about the special new edition of his landmark work “Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land.” This time he was again, as always, generous with his time and thoughts. His book is the thinking man’s Bigfoot bible, a serious study of something seriously beloved by many. I highly recommend it.
Sasquatch springs eternal.
While interest in aliens, ghosts and other, more Earthbound, ornery critters shifts in and out of vogue, America has a pretty constant big hunger for Bigfoot. The gargantuan galoot is the subject of beef jerky advertisements, popular works of fiction both on the page and screen, the namesake of several cannabis strains, and owner of possibly the most recognizable silhouette around (except the Bat Signal, of course).
The hairy hominid was also the subject of noted ecology author Robert Michael Pyle’s seminal work, “Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide.”
In the book, which was first published more than 20 years ago, Pyle chronicles his Guggenheim-funded investigation into the legends, science and subculture around Bigfoot.
He trekked into the unprotected wilds of the Dark Divide, near Mount Saint Helens, where he discovered both a giant fossil footprint and more recent tracks. He searched out Indians who told him of an outcast tribe who had not fully evolved into humans, attended Sasquatch Daze where he met scientists, hunters and others who have devoted their lives to the search, eventually realizing of the more ardent searchers: “These guys don’t want to find Bigfoot — they want to be Bigfoot!”
Now the surprisingly timely tome has been republished in a special, updated second edition, which includes the author’s own fresh experiences and findings in a new chapter that includes an evaluation of recent DNA evidence, the study of speech phonemes in the “Sierra Sounds” purported Bigfoot recordings, an examination of the impact of the popular Animal Planet series “Bigfoot Hunters,” the surprise reemergence of the famous Bob Gimlin (he of the infamous, yet-to-be debunked “Patterson-Gimlin film”) into the Bigfoot community, and more.
Pyle is the author of 20 books, including “Wintergreen,” which won the John Burroughs Medal. He’s also a Yale-trained ecologist and butterfly expert.
He recently chatted with me about Bigfoot, science, culture and writing — after having himself just come in from a lengthy walk in the woods (he’s trying to sight 70 species of butterfly in celebration of his 70th birthday).