Following up from the success of the miniseries "On the Trail of Bigfoot," documentary filmmaker Seth Breedlove takes us on another adventure, diving deeper into the history and stories that weave themselves around the legend of Bigfoot.
On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Journey follows Breedlove and his team as they explore the Adirondacks and surrounding New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont townships that have histories of sightings and strange noises. Wearing the hats of writer, director, and narrator, Breedlove begins at Buck Mountain, in the Southernmost tip of the Adirondacks. Meeting a team of ex-cops who go out regularly, camping and strategically searching the woods for signs of strange beasts. From there, they snake around to Hadley Mountain, scaling a brutal climb to the lookout tower at the summit – a true treat, allowing for a full view of the wilderness they are deep within. Spending time in Whitehall, NY, and the village of Kinderhook, they interview a family that has a generational connection to sightings and sounds that cannot be explained. Finally ending with a trip to the High Peaks Wilderness near Lake Placid, this movie unfolds to reveal more about a sense of returning to nature and community than finding an elusive creature.
At the start of the documentary, Breedlove himself states that this journey is really about choosing to reconnect with nature and each other, even in the midst of the chaos that was a year laden with a pandemic and political strife. The concept of communing and sharing with the wilderness as a backdrop to bond and grow with others helps turn what could be just another Bigfoot featurette into something profound and compelling.
In truth, it was hard to be convinced by some of the anecdotes. As a person who grew up in these woods, has hiked these trails, and has deep familial roots to much of this part of the United States, my gut instinct at almost every turn was to wonder if they weren’t just following black bears – an animal I have seen on several of my trips in these woods. I was also concerned that my childhood homelands could be exploited by these endeavors. But as they continued, and as they interviewed more groups, it became clear that these stories are more about the people that find each other than what they find in the forest. And the true awe and wonder shown for the vast wilds that make up these areas was a wrenching reminder that I am incredibly homesick.
Ending the film by asking everyone interviewed if they have any regrets about pursuing Bigfoot or being part of the cryptozoology field, the resounding answer is: most wish they had gotten into it sooner. The chase, the exploration, the mystery, the unknowable, all of it calls and connects these individuals to each other and back to nature. As Mark Matzke puts it perfectly, “I want to do more than just exist.”
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