August 3rd…“WHEN YOU WERE A TEENAGER, IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, DID YOU EVER FIND THE LEGENDARY “BIGFOOT MONSTER”?
Born and raised in the “Volunteer State” of Tennessee, our next door neighbor, Mr. Chuck Gross, had the deepest southern drawl “ya’ll dun evah herd”. This tall, lanky southern gentleman fed his family by tromping the forests of Southwest Washington State as a true-n-blue, real-life logger. With his massive chainsaw, Chuck spent his life harvesting timber way up in the forested hills that have to do with today’s story. For you see, these same mountainous hills, that Chuck called home five days a week, also were the alleged domain of a creature the Indians called “Sasquatch”…..also known as the “BIGFOOT”!!
We were blessed to have the Chuck Gross family move right next door to us there on what was then known as Hawthorne Street in Battle Ground, Washington. Our father, Russell, and Mr. Gross, coming from the same generation and being a couple country boys, became fast friends. These two dear men grew in their bond of respect and friendship until it wasn’t long at all before they were like two, long-lost brothers that had finally been re-united again. Chuck’s youngest son, Robin (who we called Robbie), and I also became good buddies really quick. On many a pleasant day, we could be found shooting basketball hoops in the Gross family driveway. Or, we’d have a fun “rassle” on the carpet of green grass that grew lushly between our two houses.
On numerous starlit nights, we two rowdy boys, after a good rasslin’ match, would lay back on that cushion of green grass and stare at the stars while we rambled on and talked about life in general. Sometimes, we’d even let our conversation wander into the spooky realm of stories that involved a giant, furry creature supposedly living in the forests of SW Washington called the “BIGFOOT”. This giant creature of legend was alleged to be between 7 and 9 feet tall.
Being youngsters with vivid imaginations, we figured it’d be a ton of fun if Robby’s logger daddy would take us up into BIGFOOT country for some camping and boyhood adventure. Chuck agreed, and the fun was about to begin. TumTum Mountain was a conical peak just past International Paper Company near Chelatchie Praire, Washington. That point was to be our gateway to the fabled landscapes that may just contain the folklore legend, BIGFOOT. This former farm boy was both thrilled and scared at the same time. Who knows, the three of us may just come face to face with the legendary creature himself??!!
Being the seasoned mountain man that he was, Chuck Gross had that 1960 Ford pickup truck packed to the gills with everything we needed for doin’ some fishin’ n campin’ in the wild country up yonder. Heck, that man had everything ya’ll could imagine……..from food, fishin’ poles, lures, sleepin’ bags, “skeeter” spray and he even packed a “surprise” that we didn’t learn about till later. We three adventurers were all aboard as Chuck slipped that worn key into the ignition, and with a twist that old Ford came to life. We Three Musketeers rambled on through the hills of Clark County Washington till we reached the edge of the Cascade Mountains. We now crossed over into timber country owned by giant corporations like Weyerhaeuser (pronounced WAREHOUSER) and others. Chuck knew these forests like the back of his hand since he lived up here five days a week.
After chugging around some cliffhanger logging roads, we finally arrived at our secluded camping site. After some exploring and fishing, we set up camp. Our master woodsman, Chuck, got us a giant campfire going and we settled in for an evening of eatin’ chow and listening to the forest around us as we chatted. After a trout supper, the crackling campfire flames worked perfectly to make some roasted marshmallows and prepare us for a night of cool, wooded slumber.
As if on cue, that old stinker, Chuck, began to get all excited as he pointed behind us to a hill and exclaimed, “Hey guys!!!”, his southern drawl was heavy, “Ya’ll see them thar beady red eyes a glowin’ in the deestance?!” “Well, hoo-dawgies, I do beeleeve that thar’s oneah them thar BIGFOOTS that caught wind of our fish cookin’ on dah farr!” Robbie and I were thinking a combination of, “Yah, right old man!!” and “Hmmmm,…….maybe?”
After enduring some more teasing from Chuck about BIGFOOT, we saw him slurp down his last cup of coffee for the night and settle down into his sleeping bag for a snore. Robbie and I followed suit as we unzipped and climbed into our cylindrical sleeping apparatus…….better known as sleeping bags. There we were in those natural surroundings, and maybe something else was out there that was NOT so natural, ya? Imaginations in high gear now, every snap of a branch in the woods around us made us jump. Us two youngin’s with the heebeejeebees made sure that one of us kept a log on that fire all night long, in hopes of keeping that BIGFOOT monster away from our campsite and not eating us tender young morsels of meat for HIS supper!!! Hehehee 😉
BIGFOOT must’ve been scared away from our roaring, all night campfire, right? Not! Foolish boys that we were. The real surprise, though, came to us at dawn when Robby and I came awake and began to stretch our young bodies to a new day of life. And, sure, we were thankful that we hadn’t been dragged away overnight and eaten by the monster of the woods. What was that surprise? Turns out Chuck Gross had kept a loaded pistol under his own pillow throughout the night! Tables were now turned. Robby and I launched into his dad with teasings that it was CHUCK who was “chicken” for sleeping with a loaded gun under his head. In his good-natured way, Chuck just shrugged off the tease as we all continued that very fun camping time that is still held special for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.