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We got the feeling Bigfoot was watching

First of all, this is not the hike most kids expect. My grandson was hesitant to give his afternoon up to walk into the wilderness. He had been on too many long treks, and walking was not one of his chosen activities. For this hike, he needed motivation, and I had to lay some groundwork. You may also.

For many months, Baden had been watching episodes of “Catching Bigfoot” and any other shows or documentaries he could find on the subject. He had books, pictures and articles describing the life and habits of the beast. He was intrigued and had become a bit of a Bigfoot buff. It was an easy sell when I suggested we go find that Bigfoot trap rumored to exist near Applegate Lake. He only half believed, but the hunter in him could not be denied.

As we did, you should go uninformed and find your own way. Start at the Applegate Marina and visit the marina store. There you will find some information and vague directions to begin your exploration. We took those directions and headed into the woods looking for the miner’s cabin as our guidepost to turn left.

As soon as we entered the woods, Baden was on alert. From his research, he knew to carry a big stick and bang on the trees as a call to the “wild man.” There was expectation around every turn and behind every tree. He listened closely for a response and heard the many sounds of the forest that he had usually ignored. Missing the cabin marker, we marched ahead with anticipation. His mother and I never heard an “I’m tired,” “my legs hurt” or “can we go home now,” just the absolute rapture of adventure.

We hiked up and up, always expecting to find either Bigfoot himself or his trap just over the next ridge. Baden fashioned a spear out of rocks and branches found along the trail. He was equally ready for battle or truce. He never wavered in his desire to meet the monster. Eventually, we had to turn back. What should have been a short walk to the trap had turned into a ramble through the woods that took us high into the wilderness. A bit disappointed, but still full of hope and expectation, we headed for home. But as adventures go, we made one last turn before we left the woods. There we found it!

Baden explored the trap excitedly, with joy and delight. All his research was validated. The state of Oregon believes in Bigfoot and so does Baden. It was a beautiful moment none of us will forget. As we left the woods, we knew the beast was watching, following us, curious about the boy with the big stick, almost willing to reveal himself.

Sniffing to pick up the scent of the beast, Baden picked up the scent of pines and manzanitas. Listening for his footsteps, he heard the birds. Searching the tree tops for the elusive ape, he became awake to the richness of the forest and found the beauty that is Oregon.

I hope you take your reluctant hikers to the Bigfoot trap. Do the groundwork, carry a big stick and miss the miner’s cabin. We know Bigfoot and the mysteries of the forest are waiting for you.

Gayle Newman lives in Jacksonville.

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