Pacific Northwest winter scene, near North Bend, Washington (author photo)
As the dark blanket of winter settles over the sky each year, many of us feel a powerful urge to sleep, to curl up by the fire or a warm heater vent, to relax with a good book or a much-loved movie, and to be a bit less active than we might be in other seasons. Do Sasquatch beings also experience this lethargy during the winter? Do they hibernate? Do they sleep more than usual? When and and where and how do they sleep at all?
On a gray winter afternoon, with freezing rain pelting the windows, I set nearly a dozen books next to me on a plush, comfortable chair near the fire and began to lounge—I mean, ahem, to do intensive research—to find whatever answers I could about the sleeping habits of the Sasquatch.
For answers, I first turned to some time-honored, classic works on the topic of Bigfoot, several of which have brief mentions of the "where, when and how" of the sleeping habits of the Sasquatch.
(Note that I am assuming Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Abominable Snowman/Hairy Man etc. are all roughly the same kind of being.)
Sleeping in the Open
Ivan T. Sanderson’s, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (first published in 1960) contains two fascinating stories about sleeping Sasquatch, and has an accompanying illustration from a Professor Kharkov depicting the posture of a sleeping Sasquatch being (p. 316).
Sleeping Sasquatch (Sanderson, p. 316)
Sanderson tells the story of a geologist, Professor Zdorick, who in 1934, accompanied by his guide, was making his way in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia through a narrow path among a growth of wild oats on a little alpine plateau at about 8000 feet altitude.
“The path flattened onto a level area and there, on a mound of freshly upturned earth was a creature, asleep on his belly, fully flattened out. He was about a meter and a half in length. The head and the forward limbs could not be seen because they were hidden by a growth of wild oats. The legs, however, could be seen. They had black naked soles, and were too long and graceful to have belonged to a bear; his back was also too flat to be a bear’s (Sanderson, p. 311).
The whole body of this animal was covered with fur, more like the fur of a yak than the rich fur of a bear. The color of the fur was a grayish-brown, somewhat more prominent brown than a bear’s. One could see the sides of the creature moving rhythmically in his sleep. The fear that took possession of the guide transmitted itself to Zdorick and they both turned around and ran for their life, scrambling and falling in the tall, wild grass” (Sanderson, p. 311).
Pamir Mountains (source: Wikimedia Commons)
In another tale from Sanderson, a witness stated that “for several months he observed a ‘wild man’ in the region of the River Manass. This creature had a peculiar way of lying down or sleeping—like a camel, by squatting on the ground on its knees and elbows, resting the forehead on the ground, and resting the wrists on the back of the head (see sketch). This position accounts for the unusually hard skin of the elbows and knees—like camel’s soles” (Sanderson, p. 315).
(Interestingly, more than one recent eyewitness encounter has also supported the claim that Sasquatch has bare and calloused elbows and knees, possibly from resting those areas on the ground while sleeping. See this recent video as an example: Selkirk Expedition.)
In both of these cases, the Sasquatch-like beings were seen sleeping on the ground, out in the open.
Kathy Moscowitz Strain’s Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture (2008) includes a fascinating, short tale about a Sc’wen’ey’ti, the Spokane Indian tribe's name for Bigfoot, literally meaning Tall Burnt Hair (Strain, p. 206). In the story, some women of the tribe discover a Bigfoot sleeping out in the open and very nearly outsmart him:
“While camped at Keller, Washington during the salmon harvesting season, Grandmother, two of her sisters, and her brothers’ wives found Scweneyti sleeping along a creek. These three sisters and two other women, knowing that when Scweneyti sleeps, he sleeps very soundly (he sleeps during the day), drove stakes into the ground all around him, then laced their braided Indian ropes crossed all over him, tying him very securely to the stakes. As he began to awaken they all sat on him, hoping to keep him down. He appeared to pay no attention to them and rose effortlessly, breaking the ropes. The women fell off as he arose and walked away. They had to destroy their clothes because of the stench from their contact with Scweneyti” (Strain, p. 206).
John Green’s Sasquatch: the Apes Among Us (first published in 1978) another fine, classic work, has several mentions of sleeping and of possible hibernation.
“Regarding sleeping position,” Green states, “The only report I have seen of a Sasquatch sleeping, in fact two of them, describes them as having their arms and legs drawn in underneath them as they lay with their backs to the sky. The position was identical to that described in Russia except that their hands were under their heads, not on top of them” (Green, p. 149).
Green goes on to provide an account of a sighting in Oregon in the 1970s, in which a hunter on a logging road described spotting two sleeping Sasquatch. “Using binoculars at a distance of less than 200 yards, he found himself looking at two Sasquatches sleeping out in the open, with their backs to the sky and their knees and elbows drawn in under their bodies. He settled down for a long vigil and they slept for about an hour, with very little movement, then one got up and then the other. They went to a creek a few feet away and begin pulling up and eating water plants” (Green, p. 425).
These accounts in Green’s work, like those in Sanderson's and Strain's, suggest that Sasquatch may sleep out in the open, sometimes curled up with arms and legs tucked underneath them.
What about hibernation in winter? Regarding hibernation, John Green quotes from a Russian researcher, a Professor Porshnev, who states, regarding the Sasquatch: “They are active mainly in twilight and at night. They will use caves or dig their own dens. In northern regions they sleep through the winter, after putting on fat in the fall. However they may wake up and move around occasionally” (Green, p. 144).
Rocky hillside in winter, Pacific Crest Trail near White Pass, Washington (author photo)
Green shares an interesting story about Sasquatch finding food in wintertime by digging through rocky hillsides, locating hibernating ground squirrels in nests of hay, and eating them ‘like bananas’ (Green, p. 422). He also suggests that it is possible Sasquatch may hibernate, or “hole up for the winter” (Green, p. 358).
John Napier’s The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality (first published in 1973) has an interesting discussion of how Sasquatch might be able to survive through snowy winters. Napier suggests that “the evidence for hibernation of the North American Bigfoot is not very strong. Sightings have been recorded during all months of the year, and if Sasquatches appear to be rather thin on the ground during November-December-January, the reason may be that the depth of winter is the time when man does a bit of denning-up on his own account” (Napier, p. 157). Napier also mentions what he terms the ‘not very persuasive’ possibility that the Sasquatch may migrate during winter (Napier, p. 157).
Jeff Meldrum’s Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (2006) alludes to the possibility of hibernation or extended sleep periods in winter, saying that the genes for hibernation exist in mammals, so “This suggests that natural selection for torpor or hibernation in a large primate inhabiting northern latitudes may not be so farfetched a proposition” (Meldrum, p.191).
Sleeping in Caves
Cave entrance (source: Matti Paavola)
The traditional tales of many Native American tribes detail the existence of large, hairy giants who live in caves in the mountains, sleep during the day, and sometimes take humans as food. Kathy Moskowitz Strain’s Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture (2008) offers a wealth of such tales, nicely organized by region and tribe.
In one example from the Yakama tribe of the Columbia Plateau, the Ste-ye-hah’ma or Stick Shower, are a “mysterious and dangerous people…nocturnal in habit, they sleep or remain in seclusion during the day and consequently are only seen on very rare occasions…the wild Stick Showers live in the mountains, in lodges underground. Doors to lodges are heavy, snow and earth. You cannot find them” (Strain pp. 208-209).
In his book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, John Green interviewed Albert Ostman, a Canadian outdoorsman who claimed to have been picked up and carried away by a Sasquatch while sleeping in his sleeping bag near Toba Inlet, British Columbia, in 1924. Ostman’s story is an absolutely fascinating one (here’s a link to an online version of the Ostman story) and includes a description of the living and sleeping quarters of a Sasquatch family.
“I noticed where these people were sleeping. On the east side of this valley was a shelf in the mountainside, with overhanging rock, looking something like a big undercut in a big tree about ten feet deep and thirty feet wide. The floor was covered with lots of dry moss, and the had some kind of blankets woven of narrow strips of cedar bark, packed with dry moss. They looked very practical and warm—with no need of washing” (Green, p. 105).
This account suggests possible cave sleeping for the Sasquatch, with blanket-like coverings made of bark.
Sleeping in Ground Cover
In Tim Halloran’s The Bigfoot Influencers (2022) Kathy Strain describes a time in Oklahoma when something kept throwing rocks at her group and she thought she saw something behind a tree.
Northwest forest scene with ample ground cover, Forks, Washington (author photo)
“I asked Bob to stay behind and asked, ‘Can you really get a look in there? I got a really creepy feeling that I was being watched’…so he walks over and says ‘Is this the location?’ And I responded ‘Yes’ and he sticks his head in and looked and he said ‘Oh honey, there’s nothing in here but a couple of downed logs’. The next morning…Brian says ‘Do you remember what Bob told you yesterday when he went over there and looked in that bush?’ I said, ‘Yes, he said there’s nothing here but a couple of downed logs.’ Then Brian states, ‘Guess how many logs are there now?’ My mouth hung open and I said ‘Oh my God, they were there the entire time.’ Essentially, they were playing dead, it’s something that’s hair covered and psychologically that makes complete sense to me because we see what we want to see. There was one log already in there, so it makes sense Bob thought he was seeing multiple ones. You’re expecting to see an animal, not something that’s pretending to lay still and be ambiguous” (Halloran, pp. 248-250).
Downed log (author photo)
While in this case the Sasquatch were lying down but not necessarily sleeping, it’s an interesting point for a discussion about Sasquatch sleeping habits because it demonstrates the possibility that a Sasquatch could be lying down sleeping near a downed log, in some bushes, and never be spotted by a passing human.
Sleeping in Nests
Jeff Meldrum’s Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (2006) includes a discussion of possible nests that spans two pages. “The construction of crude sleeping nests, from grass, ferns, leafy vegetation or boughs has been attributed to Sasquatch…Wildlife biologist John Mionczynski and I have observed a large bed of crudely interwoven pine boughs, broken off and gathered from some distance, while in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington. The great apes likewise construct sleeping nests of interwoven vegetation, either in the trees, or in the case of the large male gorillas, on the ground due to their great body weight. Frequently, it appears that the Sasquatch may simply bed down in the open. A witness to a pair of female Sasquatch sleeping in the open described their posture as lying face down with their arms and legs drawn in and tucked under them. The sleeping posture of gorillas has also been described in remarkably similar terms” (Meldrum, pp. 185-186).
Here Meldrum alludes to open-air sleeping, while also broaching the topic of Sasquatch ‘nests’. There are many anecdotal accounts of forestry workers, hikers, researchers etc. coming across large basket-type shapes of woven branches and leaves in the forest. (See Mel Skahan’s story, here, as just one example.)
Possible Sasquatch nest (source: unknown)
J. Robert Alley’s Raincoast Sasquatch (2003) contains an entire chapter on possible Sasquatch nests. In one account, a hiker named Bruce Johnstone Sr. was on a trail near Ketchikan, Alaska.
“In the bush at the end of a short spur was a game trail that led off up Slide Ridge and we followed that aways. The bush was thick, the leaves were all out and it was dense vegetation in there—alder and hemlock. After a short ways we suddenly came across a nest about six feet across made of branches and such. There was a strong animal smell there and there was a pile of droppings right beside it…you could see around the nest where branches had been broken to make it. There was a lining of leaves to the nest, no grass or plants as one might expect with a bear. The nest appeared fresh, made that spring. But there was something more peculiar about the nest. What really caught my eye, up above it, constructed into a sort of ‘wickiup,’ was a canopy made of the same sort of branches. In seventy years in the bush I’ve never seen a bear day bed with a roof to it! Whatever made that nest, it sure wasn’t a bear!” (Alley, p. 238).
Possible Sasquatch nest (photo: Eric Muench)
Alley’s book mentions several other accounts of hunters, loggers and naturalists coming across large nests in the forests of Alaska and British Columbia. One of the most noteworthy examples is that of a timber cruiser and logging engineer on Prince of Wales Island. The logger discovered a “large nest of crudely woven huckleberry branches and cedar bark strips and boughs, lined with mosses and more bark. The circular nest was about seven and one half feet on the outside with a four and a half foot diameter hollow part inside it” (Alley, p. 240). Yet another example is that of a retired mill worker who while exploring an abandoned mine, came across a “nest at the end composed of boughs and branches in a fashion that seemed deliberately constructed…the way the thing was put together would take hands to do” (Alley, p. 239).
Nick Redfern’s The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti and Cryptid Primates (2016) mentions an expedition that Adam Davies took to Russia in 2008 in search of the Almasty, Russia’s Bigfoot-type creature. Davies found skull fragments and strange bones on this expedition, but was particularly excited about “a nest, what looked like a nest, and it didn’t appear to be found by any animal that I could recognize that was indigenous to the area. And we found around twenty hairs there which can be analyzed” (Redfern, p. 8). A second account from Russia, also in Redfern’s book, mentioned a “den occupied by a mysterious giant and an underground passage dug obviously not by a human” (Redfern, p. 12).
Sleeping...here, there, everywhere
As these examples have suggested, Sasquatch beings have been reported to sleep in a diverse array of settings, including on the open ground, hidden in shrubs and ground cover, in caves, and in woven nests.
Perhaps the truest answer about how Sasquatch sleeps is that it varies, with the climate, the terrain, the surroundings, the availability of potential nesting materials, and perhaps individual preference all playing a role. The most frequently mentioned sleeping setting linked with Sasquatch, at least in modern times, is the nest, and because these have been found and associated with Bigfoot/Sasquatch types of beings all over the world, it seems a fair assumption that they are sometimes used by Sasquatch, and that they may represent the Sasquatch’s attempt to make the best possible sleeping area it can for itself out of materials at hand.
Just like us, the Sasquatch may seek shelter in inclement weather, may spend more time resting in winter than it does during summer, and it may possibly hibernate or experience a state of torpor at times, although this has not been proven to be the case.
The author indulging in a fireside nap (photo: Ruth Hebert)
For the Sasquatch, as well as for humans, sleep is presumably a vital part of life, and one that on a chilly winter day seems particularly enticing. Perhaps a long nap is a favored activity for the Sasquatch, just as it is for us. And after all, what better way is there to get through the coldest, darkest days of the year? No matter where the Sasquatch sleeps, we wish a good night to it, and to all, a good night.
by Christina Hebert