Read More: The Spokesman-Review
In pitch-black darkness atop a mountain near Walla Walla, Cliff Barackman let loose the biggest howl I’ve ever heard. It echoed through the surrounding valley for several moments. Then, silence. Barackman, a “Finding Bigfoot” co-host, Colin Mulvany, a Spokesman-Review photographer, and I held our breath in anticipation. Nothing howled back, though I admit, I half-expected it to. A few minutes earlier, we’d been walking along an old Forest Service road in the Blue Mountains when Barackman stopped to bang on some trees with a special bat. The attempt, he said, was to imitate the sound Bigfoot creatures are said to make to communicate with one another. It could have been anything – maybe another animal, a couple rocks falling or maybe I imagined it. No one else heard anything. But, in my mind, I’m sure. I heard something clap back, ever so faintly. It wasn’t enough to turn me into a Bigfoot believer, but it made me want to believe. It also made me wonder: Why do people believe in Bigfoot? What reports have surfaced about the elusive skunk ape around Spokane? And if Bigfoot creatures were real, what would that say about us? Throughout the night, I scanned the forest, looking through the fancy night vision scope I borrowed from Barackman, hoping to see something. A couple of times, I looked up at the stars with it and thought of just how mysterious the universe was. The making of a Bigfoot researcher A few hours before our night walk, Barackman, wearing a ring made from a meteorite and a shirt depicting an octopus on the moon, pulled a Yeti cooler out of his black Jeep and started preparing dinner. As he did, he recounted the series of events that brought him to his current preoccupation – an activity he referred to as “Bigfooting.” He’d always been into “nerd stuff” as a kid, he said: Star Wars, monsters, King Kong, Frankenstein, UFOs. And he loved science. “That stuff sunk into my psyche and changed who I was,” he said.