- I read with interest the story of historical accounts
of bigfoot sightings in Russia. In the fascinating non-fiction book The
Long Walk (The Lyons Press, 1997), author Slavomir Rawicz tells of his
harrowing escape from a Soviet labor camp in 1941 Siberia, where he was
a prisoner of war as a member of the polish Army, and subsequent journey
through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British
India. He shares this account of a close-encounter with a creature while
trekking across the Himalayas that bares close description to the Yeti:
- "In all our wanderings through the Himalayan region
we had encountered no other creatures than man, dogs, and sheep. It was
with quickening interest, therefore, that in the early stages of our descent
of this last mountain Kolemenos drew our attention to two moving black
specks against the snow about a quarter of a mile below us. We thought
of animals and immediately of food, but as we set off down to investigate
we had no great hopes that they would await our arrival. The contours of
the mountain temporarily hid them from view as we approached nearer, but
when we halted on the edge of a bluff we found they were still there, twelve
feet or so below us and about a hundred yards away.
- "Two points struck me immediately. They were enormous
and they walked on their hind legs. The picture is clear in my mind, fixed
there indelibly by a solid two hours of observation. We just could not
believe what we saw at first, so we stayed to watch. Somebody talked about
dropping down to their level to get a close-up view.
- "Zaro said, 'They look strong enough to eat us.'
We stayed where we were. We weren't too sure of unknown creatures which
refused to run away at the approach of us.
- "I set myself to estimating their height on the
basis of my military training for artillery observation. They could not
have been much less than eight feet tall. One was a few inches taller than
the other, in the relation of the average man to the average woman. They
were shuffling quietly round on a flattish shelf which formed part of the
obvious route for us to continue our descent. We thought that if we waited
long enough they would go away and clear the way for us. It was obvious
they had seen us, and it was equally apparent they had no fear of us.
- "The American said that eventually he was sure we
should see them drop on all fours like bears. But they never did.
- "Their faces I could not see in detail, but the
heads were squarish and the ears must lie close to the skull because there
was no projection from the silhouette against the snow. The shoulders sloped
sharply down to a powerful chest. The arms were long and the wrists reached
the level of the knees. Seen in profile, the back of the head was a straight
line from the crown into the shoulders - 'like a damned Prussian",
as Paluchowicz put it.
- "We decided unanimously that we were examining a
type of creature of which we had no previous experience in the wild, in
zoos or literature. It would have been easy to have seen them waddle off
at a distance and dismissed them as either bear or big ape of the orange-outang
species. At close range they defied description. There was something both
of the bear and the ape about their general shape but they could not be
mistaken for either. The colour was a rusty kind of brown. They appeared
to be covered by two distanct kinds of hair - the reddish hair which gave
them their characteristic colour forming a tight, close fur against the
body, mingling with which were long, loose, straight hairs, hanging downwards,
which had a slight greyish tinge as the light caught them.
- "Dangling our feet over the edge of the rock, we
kept them closely under observation for about an hour. They were doing
nothing but move around slowly together, occasionally stopping to look
around them like people admiring a view. Their heads turned toards us now
and again, but their interest in us seemed to be the slightest.
- "Then Zaro stood up. 'We can't wait all day for
them to make up their minds to move. I am going to shift them.'
- "He went off into a pantomime of arm waving, Red
Indian war dancing, bawling and shrieking. The things did not even turn.
Zaro scratched around and came up with half-a-dozen pieces of ice about
a quarter-inch thick. One after another he pitched them down towards the
pair, but they skimmed erratically and lost direction. One missile kicked
up a little powder of snow about twenty yards from them, but if they saw
it they gave no sign. Zaro sat down again, panting.
- "We gave them another hour, but they seemed content
to stay where they were. I got the uncomfortable feeling they were challenging
us to continue our descent across their ground.
- "'I think they are laughing at us,' said Zaro."
- "Mister Smith stood up. 'It occurs to me they might
take it into their heads to come up and investigate us. It is obvious they
are not afraid of us. I think we had better go while we are safe.'
- "We pushed off around the rock and directly away
from them. I looked back and the pair were standing still, arms swinging
slightly, as though listening intently. What were they? For years they
remained a mystery to me, but since recently I have read of scientific
expeditions to discover the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas and studied
descriptions of the creature given by native hillmen, I believe that the
five of us that day may have met two of the animals. If so, I think recent
estimates of their height as about five feet is wrong. The creatures we
saw must have been at least seven feet."
- This account is terribly fascinating because of the tremendous
sincerity and credibility of Rawicz' entire tale, but also because of the
off-hand, almost incidental manner in which the author shared his experience.
- Some words of critical praise for The Long Walk:
- "One of the most amazing, heroic stories of this
or any other time." --The Chicago Tribune
- "It is a book filled with the spirit of human dignity
and the courage of men seeking freedom." --Los Angeles Times
- "A poet with steel in his soul." --New York
- "You cannot willingly lay it down." Ý--San