Bob Gimlin still remembers the dark hair, swinging arms, and that glance over the shoulder. Of course, he had a lot of time to consider the encounter that changed his life during his more than 30 years of silence. In a lengthy piece for Outside, Leah Sottile delves into the man Bigfoot believers consider "something of a prophet," who helped create the now-famous Patterson-Gimlin film. One day in 1967, Gimlin, then 35, ran into an old rodeo buddy who showed him "a plaster cast of a big foot." Roger Patterson would go on to tell Gimlin all about Bigfoot lore, lend him books on the legend, and make him listen to testimonies of supposed encounters. Then in August, Patterson told Gimlin that logging crews had spotted large tracks in California's Six Rivers National Forest. "I wanted to see these footprints that these people talked about," says Gimlin, now 84. The resulting trip "ruined me."
The pair were on horseback when Gimlin says they spotted the creature about 100 feet away. Patterson grabbed his camera and shot the film that "has never been conclusively debunked," Sottile writes. While the Bigfoot legend had been around for centuries, the film gave it "flesh and blood." But when Patterson died of cancer in 1972, Gimlin was left alone to face the skeptics. The stress almost ripped apart his marriage. Rather than speak out about what he saw, he kept quiet—though that hardly mattered. The Bigfoot legend had found a footing, later cemented by the Internet age. Today, however, Gimlin helps keep the legend alive. A researcher convinced him to speak at a Bigfoot convention in 2003, where he received a standing ovation. "I thought, 'Why have I gone 35 years through a bunch of ridicule?'" he says. "God, I felt like I was 10 feet tall." Read the piece in full here. (Read more bigfoot stories.)