Fiction: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Posted September 9th, 2007 by Mike Cherim

The Bigfoot was starting to become indistinct as it made its way into the clouds.

Paul started his trek leaving his car at the country store opposite the Wilson Path trail head. Today he planned to summit Mt. Devon via the Wilson-Devon Ridge trail off of Wilson Path. Paul had years of experience as a mountain climber and hiker, but he knew today he was being especially ambitious. The altitude at the trail head was 1,460 feet above sea level. The summit was 9,355 feet. It was going to be a rough day, but he could do it. It is possible, he reminded himself and set off. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he had forgotten to throw his extra layers in his backpack.

Paul had hiked hard and fast for the past two-and-a-half hours and was thinking about stopping for a water and gorp break. Maybe it was time to put on a layer over his undershirt. He had started out hot, battling mosquitoes as he broke out into a sweat, but now, as he gained altitude, the air was getting cooler. Paul didn’t want to expose himself; he knew better. He decided to stop.

He pulled off his day pack, opened the flap, and reached inside. His hand closed on an old flannel shirt and he pulled it out. As he did he peered inside and realized all of his other clothes were missing. His food was there, his water was there, but his clothes were gone. Then he remembered: they were sitting atop the clothes dryer some 3000 feet below him, and around sixty miles to the south by car. Damn, he thought. It was decision time. Pressing on was risky without proper protection, but he did have two-and-a-half hours invested here. He checked his surroundings, mostly with a weather eye, though it was pointless as he knew once he hit the tree line it was another world. That’s when he noticed the moss on a nearby tree.

Paul walked over to the tree and peeled off a thick layer of moss. Hmm, he thought, survival gear. It wasn’t high tech, but he knew he could depend on it and continue on. He grabbed his backpack and started stuffing thick mats of brownish moss into it. He also grabbed handfuls of dry leaves off the ground and stuffed those into his pack as well. He put on his flannel shirt, threw a few handfuls of leaves inside and buttoned it up. He then started moving again, higher and higher.

Paul started seeing stunted, wind-battered trees as reached the tree line about three hours later. That’s when he decided to stop and dress himself. He stuffed his shirt with leaves, then, using some string that he always carried in his pack for emergencies, he began making a moss coat and hood. Surprisingly it didn’t take Paul long at all to put a decent coat together that would be sturdy enough to last the day if it didn’t rain. Satisfied, he pressed on, warm and snug, sporting his new off-the-tree apparel. He broke though the tree line and made for the summit.

On the opposite ridge…

Some 1300 feet away across the Devon Ravine, seven post-graduate students participating in Advanced Sasquatch Studies at Northern University scouted the area. One of the students, Frank, was peering through binoculars in the direction of the Wilson-Devon Ridge trail opposite the ravine when he saw something come into view. A second later he shouted to his classmates that they hit pay dirt. “Bigfoot!” he exclaimed.

Excitedly all the students and their instructor, Professor Janssen, got their binoculars out and focused on the creature a quarter-mile away. The class was surprised by this specimen’s behavior as it stayed in plain sight and made his way upward — towards the summit. Frank hooked up a camera to his high-tech binoculars and started filming. Another student, a girl named Angela, started an uplink transmission destined for a satellite roughly 22,000 feet above her head. Time to send some footage back to the university lab. This was big!

Paul pressed on…

Even with his moss and leaf coat he could feel the cold. It was in the permeating dampness of the clouds. He could only move on and put it out of his mind. As he hauled himself over rock after rock he ate his gorp. It was sustaining his effort. He wouldn’t summit for another two hours or so but he had a good feeling. He just had to keep moving. Fast.

The students followed…

The beast continued to progress upward and the students continued to observe and move upward themselves. They couldn’t traverse the ravine, but they could try to stay abreast the creature following a parallel ascent. They couldn’t keep up, though. The beast was much too fast as it quickly gained elevation. The students were trying to film as well so falling behind was inevitable. The Bigfoot was starting to become indistinct as it made its way into the clouds. The students turned around and went back down to the tree line hoping to glimpse another.

Over in Appleton…

The Channel 9 news crew, led by the famous Danielle Rockport, gathered at the news van. They were on their way to a country store located on Route 14 in Devon Township about an hour away. They were responding to a hot tip from the studio owner’s daughter. She worked in the lab at the university. She called them only fifteen minutes ago to tell them about the sighting and already the van was leaving its parking spot. The crew knew they were good as they raced along. What they didn’t know is that two rival television stations had their own sources and also raced towards Devon Township. It only took them ten minutes to hit the road so the rivals were actually in the lead.

Paul summited…

He was elated that he made it. He drank some water, ate some more gorp, rewarded himself with a chunk of cheese and a chocolate bar he had been saving as well, then started to double-time it down the mountain, back the way he came. His moss coat bounced and slid on his skin but he knew he could take it off pretty soon. The descents always go quickly.

Paul made it back to the tree line in record time and was warming up fast. He wouldn’t strip down yet — it was still quite cold — but soon he would be able to. And soon sounded good because it was starting to itch. So much so that he stopped to scratch. Hard.

It didn’t go unnoticed…

They hadn’t seen a thing for hours, but Professor Janssen told the students to be patient and they would be rewarded. He was right. Across the ravine, Frank, Angela, and the other students observed the descending Bigfoot stop as he reached the tree line and started aggressively scratching himself. One of the students noted that he scratched himself in an almost human way.

The class knew they’d loose sight of the creature once it entered the trees on the other side so they got in as much filming and observation as they could in the short time they had. It was excellent footage — amazing footage. This day, they knew, would go down in the record books as one of the more convincing Sasquatch sightings. So convincing that it could finally silence naysayers the world over.

Let the fun begin…

The news vans converged at the country store at the base of the mountain at almost the same time. Collectively they all muttered not-so-niceties at the fact they no longer had the exclusive. The reporter had the students on the radio and they were about an hour out, racing down the mountain with photos and more footage. The reporters salivated.

Running down a mountain is dangerous…

Paul felt like an idiot. He was only about 40 minutes to the trail head. He had already shed his itchy mossware and was making great time. He would be back to his car long before sundown — and that is a good thing in the mountains. Else he could twist an ankle in the dark. But that’s just what he did. In the daylight no less, like a fool. He was running along when a loose rock made him take a misstep and the next thing he knew he was reduced to a slow hobble as his ankle swelled.

He pressed on and finally made it, though. When he got to the trail head he was stopped in his tracks, in utter shock, by the scene he saw before him.

It was a media circus…

Or maybe frenzy is more apt. How they find out is a mystery, but they do. Six news stations, two radio stations, one local magazine, and four newspapers were all on-scene. The state police were directing an ever growing line of traffic, the county sheriff, chest puffed out, beaming with pride, was being interviewed by one of the news stations, and the local Devon Township police chief sat on the hood of his car eating a doughnut and drinking a cup of coffee. Bigfoot sightings are big news in this area, and this one, what with its great footage — which they had already seen, courtesy of a university mole turned ham, attracted by the limelight — was better than usual.

Paul stepped crossed the road…

Over his initial shock, and now quite curious, Paul hobbled over to the nearest news van and suddenly found himself surrounded by reporters and students. They were asking him if he saw the Bigfoot. But he didn’t know what they were talking about and told them so. Disappointed, the crowed began to drift away from him. One of the reporters clued Paul in by showing him a few minutes of tree line footage captured by the students.

Paul looked into the monitor and recognized the scene immediately. A smile spread across his face. Trying to keep it together he thanked the reporter, wished him good luck and happy hunting, and made his way towards his car. Paul laughed — this one he was going to keep to himself. Behind his back the reporter looked at him strangely. All of a sudden he called out to Paul and trotted over to him.

“You have chunk of fur or something on your collar,” the reporter said then added, “whoops, never mind, it’s just some moss,” he said as he plucked it off of Paul’s shirt.

Paul thanked him, trying to keep a straight face, and got into his car. He squeezed out of the capacity crowd parking lot. He was convinced it was the real deal. Bigfoot, indeed, he thought to himself with a smile, threw his head back, and laughed as he drove away.

Note: Similarities to real places or people are purely coincidental and a product of the author’s imagination. So get over it.

2 Responses to: “Fiction: A Case of Mistaken Identity”

  1. Dan Schulz responds:
    Posted: September 10th, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Muwhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahaha, nice one Mike. What gave you the idea to write that anyway?

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