At the Sasquatch Summit almost everyone had a story about that “first time” they encountered the allusive creature, known as Sasquatch, Yeti or Bigfoot.
Esther Schritter of Sweet Home, Ore. remembers her first Bigfoot experience as a toddler in the early ’60s peering through the big ivory drapes of her childhood home in Oklahoma.
“A creature looked in, but before my dad and brother could get the shotgun, he was gone,” said Schritter, who has traveled to many similar events, and participated in Bigfoot documentaries. “I always thought it was a monster, it wasn’t until I watched ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ that I realized what it was … And I’ve had many experiences since then.”
The summit, a three-day event held for the first time at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino last weekend, recorded more than 150 people in attendance the first day, according to the casino.
Even at 6-foot-9, psychologist Matthew Johnson of Puyallup, one of the event’s speakers, trembles and sheds a tear when he recalls his first — a “Class A”— encounter in July of 2000. Compelling and obviously well-rehearsed from rehashing the story so many times, Johnson, or “Dr. J,” recalls with clarity each moment of that day he hiked a ways away from his family on the Big Tree Loop Trail at Oregon Caves National Monument to relieve himself. The family had smelled something “putrid” and heard “bass, guttural” noises earlier, but they had figured they were in Oregon, and safe from threats like bears or cougars.
But about 60 feet away from his family, including his wife and three young children, Johnson said he saw a giant creature that he did not recognize turn and look at him. It was then, he said, that his world changed.
“It was then that everything I knew about the woods came crashing down,” said Johnson, who said he had not believed in Bigfoot prior to his experience. “My brain did a crash and reboot, and my protective instincts kicked in, I had to get my family out of there … It was the scariest hour of my life.”