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Geographical Index > United States > Washington > Whatcom County > Article # 204

Media Article # 204
Article submitted by Richard Noll

Friday, November 4, 1977

Quest for the Elusive Sasquatch: Shooting Rapids on An Inflatable Raft

By John O'Ryan
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Riding wild, white water in the storm-swollen Nooksack River, a P-I team and two other adventurers descended the wilderness stream on a raft, seeking an elusive sasquatch.

Few people know that it is possible to ride down the Nooksack, Skagit, Sauk or other wilderness state rivers on a "Rogue River" type inflatable raft.

The rafts are operated, winter and summer, by Pacific Northwest River Tours of Sedro Woolley.

The special trip was arranged after a Seattle man showed a movie clip, of what he claimed was a sasquatch, filmed off the Mt. Baker highway near the peak.

Then David Button, who operates the river raft tours, called the P-I to report that strange things were happening on the north forth of the Nooksack River, in the shadow of Mt. Baker.

"Deer race out of the wilderness and leap into the river, as if escaping from some terrifying creature," Button said. "There also have been strange roars heard at night."

P-I Photographer Tom Barlet and I immediately accepted an invitation to float down the Nooksack Wednesday in one of Button's rafts.

We were joined by Denis Gates who has been conducting sasquatch research for 25 years. He publishes the Sasquatch-Bigfoot Clippings Reproductions Services in Sedro.

"I've never seen a sasquatch," said Gates. "But I am 98 percent certain that they exist. When I see one, I'll make the other two percent."

The four of us journeyed up State Highway 20 toward Mt. Baker, stopping finally to put the raft we were towing into the water at raging Glacier Creek.

Torrents of water poured down the creek flooding after a big storm and heavy rainfall that had swept the area.

A wild ride between boulders brought us to the junction of Glacier Creek and the North Fork of the Nooksack River. Here there was a huge "rapids", with water swirling and waves leaping as torrents from the two streams met.

"This raft can't go through that," I said to myself.

But it did. The raft, built in Oregon to travel on the Rogue River, has a high bow and stern that lift it right to the top of river waves.

As we raced with the swirling waters of the Nooksack, reaching apparent speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour in rapids, I was so busy clinging to the raft I could barely watch for the sasquatch.

But Gates was watching, holding a movie camera in his... hand to photograph the hairy creature the instant he might appear on the shore.

The raft was completely at the mercy of the river, and in the main current there was no way to stop. Button, who sat in the raft's aluminum seat and maneuvered oars, could only move the craft back and forth in the river, positioning it to miss rocks and big trees hanging over the river banks.

At a bulge in the river where a "backeddy" ran upstream, we put Barlet ashore so he could run ahead and photograph the raft passing him. We passed him at about 20 miles per hour, and then we couldn't find another eddy that would permit us to stop.

We sped downstream, leaving Barlet marooned on a wilderness sand bar, powerless to stop. Suddenly we encountered a big "hole" on the river bank where a back eddy swirled from the main stream.

Button maneuvered the raft into the eddy, and in a few moments we reached the river bank. Here we picked up Barlet, and stopped for lunch.

We continued our descent, scouring the river banks for a sasquatch, and stopping at the mid-river island where we encountered another back eddy.

Here Button said he had seen some huge footprints, but flood waters pouring over the island, had wiped them out. The only footprints we saw this day were deer tracks where we launched the raft.

We had been on the river four hours when we encountered a highway bridge where the journey ended.

No sasquatch.

But even if we didn't sight this hairy creature, we had a thrilling ride down a wild, wilderness river.

Gates, as a long time sasquatch researcher, was disappointed that we didn't sight the hairy beast, but he was inclined to see the brighter side.

"If the sasquatch is human, the government would have to provide him with decent housing, schools and school buses, Medicare and food stamps."

"Maybe it's just as well we didn't find him."

Bibliographical Information:

(This is the infamous article that pitted wits between two sasquatch researchers and may have contributed to the end of Mr. Gates continued quest.)

Picture included: P-I PHOTOGRAGHER TOM BARLET balanced himself on the front of the raft to take this photo while riding down the storm-swollen Nooksack River. With binoculars is P-I reporter John O'Ryan. Behind him is sasquatch researcher Denis Gates, with David Button, skipper of the raft, at the oars. Page A-10

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