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The Legend of Sasquatch: Hunting bigfoot right here in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful, wild, and vast. Some people in Western North Carolina are asking…are the mountains keeping a secret?

Jim Charneski is a BFRO Investigator, which stands for "Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization." A couple times a year, he teaches a class on Bigfoot at Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine, but his main job is as an "investigator."

He says every year people call the organization, which is national, saying they've seen Sasquatch. "If you get in touch in BFRO, they will forward you information to me, or one of the investigators," Charneski explained.

It's at that point Charneski is sent out to conduct interviews and then go to the scene of the sighting, to determine if the report is, in his words…."credible."

We trekked into the woods with him. "We initially look for footprints or markings on the trail that have been made so a large animal could move through," Charneski said, adding they perform "tree knocks" to try to attract Bigfoot.

He says sometimes the people who report are wrong, and sometimes they're just messing with him. "Oh yea, it happens. It's worth waiting through those to get to the credible sightings," he said.

He knows it sounds crazy. "Oh yea. I get a lot of strange looks," Charneski said. He truly believes the elusive animal is real. In fact, he claims four years ago he found himself if a hairy situation along the border between North and South Carolina. "The second night we were there, it approached our campsite, and we got a chance to watch it for five or six minutes. It was hiding behind a pine tree so i could see it from waist up," he told News 13. There's no evidence of the encounter. "Unfortunately no. It was an older camera that did not take video," he said.

The scientists and wildlife experts News 13 called didn't want to go on camera, but all agreed Sasquatch is a myth.

However, tourists on the parkway agreed with Charneski. Latrista Gray-Cruz was visiting with her husband from Florida, enjoying an afternoon of hiking. She says she thinks Charneski is telling the truth. "I 100% think so, all things are possible. If we can fly, why not be able to see Bigfoot?" Gray-Cruz said, going on to say she would go look for Bigfoot if given the opportunity.

Charneski concedes, he could be wrong. But…he says…what if he's right? "Anything is possible. We've gotten 50,000 sightings in North America. Even if just 5% of those are true, anything is possible," Charneski said. And maybe, Charneski and the other believers, are motivated by a hope that there's still some mystery in world. "Sure, and it's part of what I do. It's just the fascination of the unknown," he said.

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