One night 54 years ago, Cliff Crook says, he stared into the face of a Northwest boogeyman. He called it a "woods giant." Today, it's better known as Bigfoot.
"I had a real terrifying encounter," said Crook, now 69. "It's not something that goes away."
He remembers the towering size, the ape-like face, the gurgling sound in the dark. He remembers the dog that charged into the bushes and then was tossed out and crashed onto the ground.
He remembers running away with three younger camping buddies. They arrived home a mile away, their bare feet bleeding. His friends' parents weren’t too happy with him.
"They didn't want them around me anymore," Crook recalled last week.
The encounter fueled a lifelong obsession by Crook with the hairy ape-like creature. He calls himself "America's first Bigfoot investigator." Others call him a hoaxer and an attention grabber.
Crook appeared on the front page of The News Tribune in 1990 when some mushroom hunters found possible Bigfoot footprints near the Nisqually River. Crook found the prints credible.
He called The News Tribune recently to announce more Bigfoot footprint news, what he called the biggest find in 30 years.
The basement den in Crook's Bothell-area home used to be Bigfoot Central, where over the years he regaled visitors from around the world with stories of his encounter and the investigations into sightings, footprints and efforts to find the ape-like creature.
Maps, drawings, newspaper clippings, footprint casts and Bigfoot memorabilia decorated the walls. An 8-foot-tall carved wooden Bigfoot sat on the front lawn to welcome visitors.
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