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Most of us have seen home movies purported to be Big Foot moving through the forest. And some of us have traveled Highway 1 up California’s Northern California coast and seen the gift shops and signs heralding Big Foot.
When I was in Crescent City (the last California town before Oregon) doing a booksigning, I met a Tolowa woman who told me many stories about Big Foot and people who had actually seen him, or a female counterpart and child. She was such a fascinating personality she became two people inKindred Spirits.
While doing some Internet research about Big Foot, I came upon a site dedicated to The Hairy Man, a legendary being of the Tule River Indians. An actual pictograph of The Hairy Man, his wife and child are in a rock shelter on the Tule River Indian reservation. The paintings are thought to be between five hundred and a thousand years old. Like Big Foot, there have been recent sightings of The Hairy Man. No other pictographs of a Big Foot-like creature exist in California.
As an author, I was intrigued. I gratefully accepted an invitation to go on a field trip with the local college’s anthropology class to the place where the pictographs are, The Painted Rock.
It is not an easy place to find or get to, but once I was there I was thrilled. The painting of the Hairy Man looks much like what is on the cover ofDispel the Mistexcept it is more colorful—and he is eight-foot tall. Amazing.
While I was gazing upon the Hairy Man and scribbling notes, our Indian guide stared at me sternly and said, “Don’t come out here after dark.” Though that wasn’t something I’d even try, I asked, “Why not?” His answer, “There are too many spirits here at night,” convinced me that Tempe would indeed visit this spot after dark.
I also asked him if he knew anyone who’d seen the Hairy Man. His answer was that his father had seen him. I knew from my research on the Internet that there were others who’d also glimpsed the Hairy Man moving around the mountainside.
InDispel the Mist,Tempe remembers stories her grandmother told her about the Hairy Man. Strange dreams, which she isn’t able to interpret, haunt her as she investigates the murder of a popular county supervisor. Of course Tempe has an encounter with the Hairy Man.
Do I believe in the Hairy Man? Why not. It’s certainly more fun to believe than not. Because I can see the mountains the Hairy Man inhabits from my office window, I do look up from my work and watch for him.