Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA PLAYHOUSE– A confession: all things Bigfoot induce in me a coma-grade boredom. I know, Sasquatch is our very own corny local monster, lighten up. But it’s also just a somewhat overachieving version of the many fleabitten regional legends nurtured by the rural chambers of commerce and gift shops of our land.
Matters cryptozoological are amusingly covered for me in the Monster Talk podcast, where the real dynamics driving these sorts of critters are fascinatingly unpacked. Only in skeptical venues like that has hairy, hoary Bigfoot ever held my interest.
Until Monday, Feb. 13, when I saw Asquatchalypse Now, a film by Scott “Squatch” Herriot about the Bigfoot Trail. Sponsored by the Bigfoot Trail Alliance, the Arcata Playhouse showing took a packed house on a hilarious and exhilarating journey through the Klamath Mountains.
The nonprofit alliance is guiding creation of the nascent trail, which starts in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, overlaps with 40 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and ends near Redwood National Park near Crescent City.
According to the Bigfoot Trail Alliance’s website, bfta.bigfoottrail.org, the trail was first proposed in 2009 by Michael Kauffmann as a south-to-north route through the Klamaths, one sporting 32 different species of conifer across six wilderness areas, one state park and one national park.
Herriot and various backpacking pals traverse the trail, which in places is no trail at all yet, and it tests even experienced hikers’ skills. As the hardy hikers bushwhack and bungle through the jungle, the film’s pacing is almost hike-like – at times fast-moving and fun, then more of a mosey when something along the way merits careful examination.
Herriot, quick of wit and tart of tongue, frequently offers a perfect capping quip to the many funny and trying situations the trail provides. His crisply edited vignettes convey rich moments on the trail, basically the kinds of highlights that might pop up in your hiking memories.
And like being on the trail, one moment’s fascination makes you even more curious about what’s coming up around the bend. Imperceptibly, amid the laughs, splashes, gashes and bruises, the film delivers a solid grounding in the Bigfoot Trail’s emerging culture – its history, the environmental and ethical issues involved in its creation and the possibilities it offers adventurers.
And yes, the legend of Bigfoot is earnestly serviced with only the finest grainy and ambiguous footage. But by that point in the film, even the most insufferable skeptic wants the hikers to succeed and the trail to be established. So if they need a mascot, well, why not?
Join the Bigfoot Trail Alliance at the Friday, March 17 Pints for Nonprofits at Redwood Curtain Brewery and June 1 through 4 at the Boundary Trail Brush Out in the Red Buttes. Download Asquatchalypse Now at squatchfilms.com.