Our Winter 2010 Destination featured the beautiful and mystical Harrison Hot Springs. To learn more about Sasquatch sightings in the area, writer Bruce Grierson met with local researcher Bill Miller. Below is an extended account of the conversation:
To call Bill Miller a man possessed would not be overselling things too much. Almost every day, rain or shine, he climbs aboard his Polaris Ranger UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle)— “Bigfoot Research” on the side—and guns it up the logging roads, high into the mountains looking for . . . signs.
When he’s not on the buggy, he’s out dutifully investigating every reported sighting, or he’s on the web contributing to the Sasquatch conversation in forensic detail. The morning we met, Miller, a big man with Aviator-style sunglasses perched on his shaggy mane of cinnamon-brown hair, had brought a couple of visual aids: plaster moulds of massive footprints. They sat in plain view on the table, inviting double takes from people on the way to the buffet.
If Bigfoot lives, he lives here. Around Harrison Lake is where the data points cluster.
I asked Miller if he really believed they’re out there.
“Unless the one I saw died as it walked out of sight, and it was the last one,” he said.
Miller’s eyes drifted into the middle distance, beyond the poised forkful of breakfast sausage and out through the big windows to the shore of the lake, as he reconstructed the memory. Co-ordinates: 2003, 1,280 metres up a mountain beyond Twenty Mile Bay, on the west side of Harrison Lake.
Miller was scanning a nearby slope when, in a clearing, something moved. He got out of his jeep and peered through a 600-mm power zoom lens. He picked the thing up again there, in the shaky telephoto spotlight, and squeezed off two shots. The first one was blurred. The second one caught what he believes to be Bigfoot. The very same species of hominid, maybe, that Miller had glimpsed through the fog while night fishing in Minnesota almost 30 years ago, and that set his Bigfoot obsession into motion.
Except that he regards the picture as not being quite good enough to show anyone. Another inconclusive photo is going to create more scoffers than believers. And so he will not rest until he has the definitive vindicating evidence—a crisp photo, a sharp video sequence. He has already spent, in his estimation, $150,000 of his own money on the hunt. (If he accepted money, his motives would be suspect and his credibility shot, he reasons.)
The fruits of his labours to date: some footprints in the middle of nowhere. A rough catalogue of fugitive glimpses. No bones, no nests. “People say to me, you’ve been at this almost every day for a decade and you haven’t found it. Well, look around. This is a vast place. You could hide a dinosaur up here and no one would know.”
But just by being here, doing his thing, Miller is kindling a buzz around Bigfoot not seen around here since they cancelled Sasquatch Days. He’s trying to scratch up funding to get a good-quality replica of the creature built and put on display here in Harrison, a diorama kind of thing, Sasquatch in his natural habitat. He thinks there might be a market for Sasquatch tours, taking tourists into the mountains to the locations of famous reported sightings. You’d bring a lunch and eat it right there on the Sasquatch trail.
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