Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bearing the Truth about Yeti

Most things have a basis in reality, albeit a thin one in some cases, but still a basis.
Lycanthropy accounts for werewolves.  Porphyria gives us a leg to stand on for vampirism.
Zombies have their anchor in Vodun, as Canadian ethnobotanist Wade Davis wrote about in The Serpent and the Rainbow.
But what about the humble Sasquatch?
Yeti, Sasquatch, Abominable Snowman, have been around a long time and pop up around the world from Tibet to California to our own Canadian Rockies.  Some 21 years ago hunters called the newspaper I worked at to tell the tale of seeing a Sasquatch one fine Saturday in the bush.
I didn't cover the story so I've forgotten the finer points, but I do recall that we decided it was probably a bear. A bear looks awfully human standing up and at a distance.
Photo by my husband Mike Mayrl.
 But there is a legitimate basis for the legends, at least in Tibet.
Mountain climber/adventurer Reinhold Messner spent a great deal of time there searching and wrote a book about it.
Mike and I read it years ago as a bedtime story. In it, he describes an encounter with a Yeti and later finding out about a Himalayan bear called a Chemo. It is his position that the Yeti is this bear.
No, that doesn't explain our Sasquatches, but it does give a reasonable basis for the legends, and that's what matters.
Like I said, I believe there's a basis in reality for everything, but that does not mean everything is real.


Dawn said...

I have always hoped that the Sasquatch was real....kind of a neat thought thinking there is something hairy and human-like running around out there....not letting anyone find him...only showing up once in awhile to prove his existence....
Then again- you're right.
Not everything is real....but I can imagine:)
Hope you have a wonderful day!

Laurita said...

For years I thought my brother was a Sasquatch...

It's amazing how human-like bears can be on their hind legs. I can definitely see how, from a distance, one would seem to be some giant man-creature.

Leah J. Utas said...

Dawn, me too. I desperately want there to be real Sasquatches and part of me still believes they will be found. I've decided the wonder beings of our myths and legends live in a different dimension that occasionally bleeds over to ours. I need to keep the wonder alive.

Laurita, that's right. Seen quickly at a distance it's an easy mistake to make.

Ron Scheer said...

I believe yeti are supposed to have a tremendously repulsive smell. Is that true of bears in the wild?

Best book on yeti I remember reading is Peter Mathiessen's THE SNOW LEOPARD, which takes place in the Himalayas.

They also get a mention in Ken Kesey's SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (Oregon), where I think they're called "hide-behinds."

Leah J. Utas said...

Ron, I've never been close enough to a live bear to smell it so I can't say. Seems to me I've have read that they do, though.
"Peter Mathiessen's THE SNOW LEOPARD," sounds interesting. I'll keep it in mind.
And thanks for the info on hide-behinds. I didn't know what they were.

Virginia Lee said...

I would never insult a Sasquatch by comparing it to my brother. Oof.

I have seen fellows that look like Yetis or Sasquatches, though.

Leah J. Utas said...

LOL, Virginia Lee.

the Bag Lady said...

Of course Sasquatches are real! They are just really, really shy. And there aren't very many of them, so it's easy for them to hide out in the mountains and bush.

Leah J. Utas said...

Silly me, Cousin. Of course they're real.

Reb said...

They are as real as Pegasus and Unicorns or Nelly & Ogo-pogo. But there is no such thing as a Uni-Peg. Don't forget about Harvey either ;)

Tabor said...

Your post juxtaposes with some news in
Washington state about a man being attacked by a bear without any reason. He survived, but it was a horrible encounter. Made me wonder about my cavalier attitude hiking in the Canadian Rockies recently.

Leah J. Utas said...

So very true, Reb. Had to stop and think about Harvey, but it made me smile when I got it.

Tabor, I saw that report. Scary. Meanwhile, where were you hiking?

messymimi said...

Yes, there is something of truth behind every legend. For example, each of these creatures you mention could be some form of large as yet undiscovered primate, similar to the great apes. Even some people in Africa, up until the past couple of decades, thought the great apes were legendary.

Leah J. Utas said...

Messymimi, I'm fascinated by how legends and stories get started, but I don't want to ever lose sight of the fact they could just as easily be real.
New species are being discovered all time. We know so little.

Hilary said...

Somehow I imagine you to be just the sort to have it all figured out. I can picture it now.. Leah in pursuit of the hirsute. ;) Wonderful photo by Mike.

Leah J. Utas said...

Hilary, I don't know about figured out, but I certainly have my opinions.