By Jake Rossen
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By CP Staff
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"I've always been drawn to things that are out there in the world, that are unexplained," he says. "Even with all the technology that we have today there are still things that people don't know anything about, but that are real and that other people make fun of."
Quast pauses for a moment. "And I saw one myself," he adds, angrily. "And then I hear the subject being made fun of, and I guess I want to do something about that."
In many ways Mike Quast is still eight years old. He believes what people say. He has faith that he saw something that scientists say simply does not exist. And he doesn't really understand why so few people believe him, or listen to him. The 24 years that have passed since Quast's own sighting have only served to deepen his belief.
Quast's family was out for a Sunday drive. "We were just driving in the Strawberry Lake area," he recalls. "I was in the back seat just looking out the window at the scenery. All of a sudden, up the road, between 50 and 100 yards or so, there was this black object next to the road. I don't know why nobody else in the car saw it, I guess nobody was looking at that exact spot at that second.
"It was between six and seven feet high and it was just solid black, and the first thing I thought was that it looked like a burned tree trunk or something," he continues. "But then as I was looking at it, it stepped away from the road, and walked into the woods and disappeared. I only had it in sight for maybe five seconds, but it was totally upright, totally vertical, walking on two legs."
Quast says his mother, who was in the car at the time but didn't see anything, is willing to believe what her son saw. "She doesn't think I'm lying about it," he says. "She doesn't think too much about it, but she's always said that she thinks those things probably exist."
In its scant details, the story is similar to many other reported Bigfoot sightings: the initial thought that it must be something else, the flash of recognition, and then, just like that, the creature is gone into the woods. Quast is matter-of-fact when he tells the story, almost clinical. For him, it's simply what happened.
But he does want listeners to be convinced that he has ruled out other explanations. "It was not a bear, and I don't know why somebody in a gorilla suit would be standing there, you know, hoping for somebody to come along," he says. "It's not an area known for Bigfoot, so you wouldn't expect somebody to pull a hoax like that."
Whether or not the cultural pendulum ever swings back to a broader interest in Bigfoot doesn't seem to concern Quast. In a way, he would just as soon that it didn't, so that he could be spared the cartoon and tabloid images of the creature that were so common in the 1970s. For Quast, for whom the memory of the scene at Strawberry Lake is powerful and enduring, this is important work. The image of what he saw when he was eight has never left him, and has given him a cause.
And even if nobody listens, Quast has left a record of what he saw--in the pages of his book, and symbolized by a red pin stuck into his map, just past the western shores of Strawberry Lake.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWSMeet three of Bigfoot's other Minnesota followers
Mark A. Hall
Bloomington resident Mark Hall has self-published a host of "cryptozoology" books on a range of topics, including Thunderbirds (birds with a reputed wingspan of more than 20 feet), giant owls (Bighoot), and lake monsters. "I actually have to tell you," he confides, "that I think there are surviving Neanderthals." Hall studied physical anthropology at the University of Minnesota, but left without taking a degree. During his studies, Hall came to believe that there was a scientific basis for the existence of Bigfoot. But he doesn't believe there's a single kind of creature wandering the woods of North America. Rather, he suspects there are roughly a half-dozen different species.
While Hall's true passion may remain unknown to many of his everyday co-workers, he does have some profile nationally. The recently published Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe referred to Hall's work. And in 1994 he traveled to California for an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries to discuss his impressions of the Minnesota Iceman case.
In his own book, The Yeti, Bigfoot & True Giants, originally published in 1994, Hall laments humanity's lack of interest in Sasquatch. "Human beings are entirely too self-absorbed at this time to give serious attention to the existence and well-being of their close primate relatives," he writes. Eventually, he says, he'll be proved right. "I have confidence that time is on my side." Assessing Quast's work, Hall wrote in his book that he believed Quast had made a good case for the presence of what Hall calls the American Yeti. "He has gathered accounts and track observations that suggest the presence of a small group of them--possibly a family unit."