Notes on the missing

There are differing points of view on the nature of our favorite enigmatic forest creature.  Are bigfoots gentle giants who prefer their space, yet mean humans no real harm?  Or are they bloodthirsty maniacs lying in wait for something soft, weak, and pink to murder?  What about all those people who go missing in the woods — are bigfoots to blame?

On the morning of July 18, 2007, Barbara Bolick set out on a hike. She and her husband Carl had been entertaining out-of-state visitors at their Corvallis, MT home. Barbara’s favorite thing to do when she had visitors was to take them up the Bear Overlook Trail, one of the Bitterroot Valley’s most spectacular day hikes.

So the 55-year-old woman tossed snacks, water, and the .357 that her husband always insisted she carry, into a day pack.  She opted to leave her wallet, ID, and passport at home. She told her husband she’d be back that afternoon, and along with family friend Jim Ramaker, set out for the trailhead. Bolick had been on the Bear Overlook trail many times before and knew the terrain. She was an experienced hiker and physically fit. The two friends reached the overlook, had a snack, and enjoyed the scenery. Ramaker lingered to take in the view, and Bolick turned back down the trail. It was a matter of moments, Ramaker insisted, maybe a minute at most, that she was out of his sight. But when he went to rejoin his hiking companion, he found she was simply gone.

I remember this case well.  Bolick was all over our local news.  Search teams combed the area for weeks and found no trace. Bolick had apparently vanished into thin air.

Nine years later, this case remains a mystery. Did Bolick have a sudden medical emergency?  Was she attacked by a wild animal, a mountain lion perhaps? Did she slip and fall, maybe hit her head, become disoriented, wander away? Was foul play involved?

If you’ve spent any amount of time on internet bigfoot forums or Facebook groups lately, you may have noticed a trend of attributing such missing-persons cases to marauding bigfoots. The giant hairy creatures could reach out and grab a woman Bolick’s size (she was about 5 feet tall and 115 pounds) in an instant, proponents of this theory might say, and no one would be ever the wiser.  In this part of the country, the bigfoot-as-homicidal-maniac theory seems to gain additional traction because it’s the same general area as the classic Teddy Roosevelt “Bauman” story.  It’s scary out there, goes the subtext.  Bigfoot’s big and it could get you.

But let’s be honest:  the world offers enough danger without adding people-snatching bigfoots into the mix.  Those of us who spend time in the outdoors understand that Mother Nature can provide a peaceful haven, but she’s a fickle broad who can turn the tables on you in an instant.  If you’ve ever been hiking and caught in a sudden blizzard, where everything within a few feet of you is invisible under a curtain of white, you know what I mean. If you’ve ever tried to ford a stream only to discover it’s much deeper and faster than you thought it was, you’ve gotten a taste of Mama N’s wrath. Or if you’ve ever experienced that sinking feeling after discovering you’re on the wrong trail and headed the opposite direction from your car, you can probably understand what I mean. It’s not hard to become disoriented or lose your way. Circumstances can quickly overwhelm you. “Danger and wilderness go hand in hand,” writes Lee Whittlesey in his book, Death in Yellowstone. “That is one of the attractions of wilderness.”

Point is, freak accidents can – and do – occur. It is sad but true that people simply go missing all the time.  I can recall a laundry list of missing-persons cases, just within the last ten years, just here in the Northern Rockies. Many missing people are found — years later, in some cases — but a few are never located.  Obviously, we have  no evidence that a bigfoot was involved in any of these cases; most often, we have no evidence at all.  I don’t know what happens to these people, but I do know that no good comes from stirring the pot.  So get out there, take a hike, enjoy the forest.  Just watch yourself out there.  Bigfoot or no bigfoot, it’s an unforgiving world.

For more information on the Bolick case, visit http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/vanished/Content?oid=1925180  and http://missoulian.com/news/local/mystery-lingers-around-woman-s-disappearance/article_11cf437d-1f68-54f8-8277-e336dcd6e7f3.html.

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4 thoughts on “Notes on the missing

    • You know, I was debating whether I should mention up front that I have not read Paulides, and have no intention of doing so. I have heard Paulides on podcasts and did hear a recording of a lecture he gave at a Bigfoot conference. As I mentioned above, I feel it’s irresponsible (and disrespectful to the missing and their families) to dredge up these cases and speculate what may have happened. There’s never anything wrong with saying “I don’t know what happened.” There are PLENTY of ways to die in the woods. Say what you will about the federal government — and there’s a lot to say! — but I absolutely do not believe they are covering this stuff up. Plus none of the speculative pot-stirring changes the outcome: the missing remain, in most cases, missing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will respect you position on Paulides and do agree with you there a plenty of ways to die within the wilderness. Yet, I must state there a few cases not only mentioned in the book along from other outside sources where the situation of the person found here unusually such as discovering the body with partial or all clothing missing or suddenly appear within areas that were thoroughly search before. Whatever the circumstances may be involving, some of the cases they are definitely to be paused and thought upon.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Yeah, I’ve heard those things… I agree there is a lot to think about on the subject. Still, I know that people sometimes do strange things when they are disoriented and panicked, and there are definitely places where the growth is so dense that you could walk within a few feet of a person and still not see them. Someone goes missing at least annually here in my area. Occasionally someone will have a car accident and the vehicle won’t even be found for years because of the dense forest where they went off the road. And animals can scavenge the remains long before searchers can get to them. Did you see that earlier this month in Yellowstone a man fell in a hot spring, and the acid content of the water actually dissolved his body? Lots of weird stuff goes on out here! It’s interesting for sure, just in my opinion, no reason to think there’s necessarily anything “out of the ordinary” about going missing.

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