The Strange Stuff files
Tucked away in my files is a folder entitled “Strange Stuff” that is mostly full of letters from, and about a guy known as “Adirondack” Jack Leach, who lived in Utica.
How I came to know Jack is a story all its own. The short version is that I was contacted in 2006 by an ESPN reporter who was doing a story on Sasquatch encounters in the Adirondacks, and asked me for some help finding subjects who had reported encounters. I obliged. The reporter, Don Barone (of Bassmasters fame) wrote his story for Amazon and I later wrote a story about Barone’s story in my weekly newspaper column that year around Halloween.
Jack got wind of my newspaper story and for a number of years that followed, the letters from Jack came pouring in. They were hand-written and each one detailed a past, and sometimes recent encounter Jack claimed he was having with large, hairy creatures in the remote area he hunted, fished and guided in the southwestern Adirondacks.
The details were interesting and quite often Jack reported seeing more than one creature at a time. I remember a few times he mentioned how frightened he was. But eventually, he said, his curiosity got the best of him and he returned to the area and began his quest all over again.
Eventually, I met Jack at an outdoor writers meeting in Old Forge in 2008, and Barone also came to visit Jack and spent a few days with him, resulting in yet another story. Through it all the letters from Jack kept coming, occasionally with photos of footprints Jack had casted and even a few blurry photos Jack said were of an actual Sasquatch.
When Jack took ill and wound up in a nursing home, the letters stopped. But occasionally I would hear from the members of the Northern Sasquatch Research Society, who Jack had befriended, updating me on his health. He passed away in 2019.
Other than Déjà vu, which I find fascinating, I can’t personally say I’ve ever seen something that wasn’t eventually explained. Apparitions, hairy creatures, unexplained objects in the night sky; they have all alluded me (and I’m fine with that). But over the years, especially those that I’ve spent as an outdoor writer, several folks have shared with me, in confidence, stories of encounters they’ve had, especially of the Sasquatch variety. Some of these people I’ve known for many years and I have no cause to doubt them.
I didn’t know Jack Leach well enough to fully judge his character. His letters were certainly sincere and extremely detailed and I wish I’d gotten to know him better. He sure had some interesting stories to tell where the local Sasquatch lore was involved. Perhaps the day will come when those letters will find their way into a volume of some sort. Until then, Happy Halloween!