By LESLIE MORIARTY
GRANITE FALLS — All Chris Wright wanted was his midnight cigarette. He thinks he got Bigfoot instead.
"I was not a firm believer in Bigfoot," said Wright, 29, a broadcast communications tower manager. "But after last night, I’m rethinking that."
Wright stepped out on the back porch of his residence near Iron Mountain rock quarry around midnight Sunday to have his nightly cigarette.
"I do that because I don’t smoke in the house," he said.
After lighting his cigarette, Wright walked off the porch and into the yard. That activated the motion detectors, and security lights came on.
"At that point, I heard a loud, high-pitched yell," he said. "I turned and looked to my right and that’s when I saw him. I was looking right at the son-of-a-gun."
The creature stood about 7 feet tall, was dark in color and seemed to have fur, Wright said. He stood on two legs at the tree line about 75 feet away.
"When the lights came on, he ran into the woods," Wright said. "It sounded like a human running through the woods."
Wright, an experienced hunter, said it wasn’t a bear.
"Bears don’t run like that," he said.
Wright said he didn’t waste any time getting back in the house.
"I have guns in a gun case, and I was going for them when I decided to wake up my roommate and tell him what I saw," Wright said. "At first, he sort of laughed at me. But then he could see how shaken I was, and he began to believe me."
Wright said he had seen a television show on Bigfoot sightings a few weeks ago. On that broadcast a tape of a Bigfoot yell was played.
"What I heard sounded just like that," he said. "That’s why I know this was Bigfoot."
When morning came, Wright went out to look for footprints, but found none. Then he called Cliff Crook, a Bigfoot expert.
Crook, of Bothell, said he knows of other Bigfoot sightings near and along the Mountain Loop Highway.
"The last one was back in 1994," Crook said. "That one was near Verlot in the Robe Valley."
Crook said in that case two motorists saw a "huge, hairy thing cross the highway."
Crook followed up on that one, but didn’t find any clues because of the rocky terrain.
In all, Crook knows of about seven reports of Bigfoot sightings in the Granite Falls area. Most were in the 1970s.
Crook, who has been researching Bigfoot for 44 years, plans to go to the area today and hunt for clues. He’ll look for places where Bigfoot may have rubbed trees, for fur droppings at the base of trees and for any signs of passage through the trees and brush.
"I want to find out what was in the area," he said. "And I have ways of screening out any fakes."
Although 90 percent of the Bigfoot sightings prove to be "mistakes," Crook said Wright sounds genuine. Personally, he thinks there are about 100 sasquatches throughout the Northwest.
"It’s been a while since there was a good report up in that area," he said. "This may be it."
Granite Falls police, however, said they didn’t get any calls about Bigfoot sightings Sunday night.
"I haven’t ever gotten any in the five years I’ve been here," officer Rich Michaelsen said.
Wright said the clearing along the Mountain Loop Highway in recent months for the new CSR Associated gravel quarry may have upset Bigfoot and sent him into more populated areas.
But Warren Hawkridge, spokesman for CSR, said employees haven’t reported seeing any signs of Bigfoot.
Wright worries that people will think he’s nuts.
"I thought all those guys who said they saw Bigfoot were loony," he said. "But I know what I saw. … It had to be Bigfoot. Nothing else is that big or that tall."
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