ROLF BOONE; The Olympian Published: January 27th, 2008 01:00 AM
Forty-one years after video of a hairy, apelike creature spawned debate about the existence of Sasquatch, one of the men involved in the incident addressed believers and doubters Saturday in Olympia.
Robert Gimlin of Yakima, one of two men who said they witnessed a creature in 1967 in Northern California, held the attention of more than 100 people at the Washington State Capital Museum. The hourlong presentation drew so much interest that some had to be turned away, said museum manager Susan Rohrer.
After learning about the discovery of large footprints in Northern California, Gimlin and expedition partner Roger Patterson, also of the Yakima area, traveled by horse for two weeks through the woods. They said they saw what later would be described as a female Bigfoot, or Sasquatch.
On a warm fall day in October, the two spotted the creature, Gimlin said.
Patterson dismounted his horse and began stumbling and filming it as best he could with a 16 mm camera, while Gimlin took cover with his rifle, Gimlin said.
The video, now known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, shows a slow-moving creature that looks back at the camera, then trudges into the forest.
Patterson died in 1972, and Gimlin has spent most of his life working as a truck driver and horse trainer.
''I haven't had any luck with any footprints or sightings since,'' he told the audience.
Gimlin gave two presentations, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. After his afternoon presentation, which included a frame-by-frame showing of a digitally enhanced copy of the film, he answered questions, including:
How do you know it's a female?
Did you hear anything?
Did it appear scared?
Was there another creature in the area?
Is Bigfoot an angel?
The creature appeared to have mammary glands, Gimlin said. He also didn't recall any sounds the creature made and said it didn't appear to be scared. He also was so distracted by what he saw that he didn't check for other creatures.
Asked if he's been at the site since 1967, Gimlin said he went back in 2003. The area has changed quite a bit, he said.
Steve Firstenburg said he drove up from Vancouver, Wash., to hear Gimlin and see the museum's Sasquatch exhibit.
Firstenburg said he's always been interested in Bigfoot and has never believed that the creature in the film is a man in a suit.
''It's something only the experts know, and until we get concrete evidence, it remains a mystery,'' he said.
Lenora Long; her husband, John; their son; and a friend drove down Saturday from Federal Way. Although her son and her husband believe in Bigfoot, she has her doubts.
Kelly Huston of Lacey claims to have seen a Bigfoot-like creature in central Kitsap County when she was a girl. She's been fascinated by Bigfoot ever since and said the creature in Gimlin's film matches what she saw.
''It's a viable creature instead of a man in a monkey suit,'' Huston said.
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