Spokane Journal of Business

Extreme Expeditions Northwest LLC: Research Sasquatch in style

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-—Samantha Peone
Stephen Major returns to the Vancouver Island area, where he spent much of his childhood, to lead bigfoot expeditions.
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-—Samantha Peone
Extreme Expeditions Northwest operates out of a small office space in Spokane Valley. Stephen Major is its only employee, but contracted personnel assist with the tours, which take place in remote parts of the Vancouver Island area in British Columbia.
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When imagining the pursuit of bigfoot, most people don’t envision five nights on a yacht in Canada, accompanied by a scenic helicopter flight, hiking, fishing, and First Nations history and cultural exposure.

But Spokane-based tour company Extreme Expeditions Northwest LLC will offer just that next month with its first The Beast of the Broughton tour—the most upscale trip the company features, says Stephen Major, founder and director of operations for the business. All spots have filled up for that expedition.

The tour company, which was established last year, plans to take groups of five or fewer out into the Vancouver Island, British Columbia, area to give them a taste of what it’s like to study bigfoot, while also appreciating the beauty of the Canadian landscape. Currently, Major is the only employee, but he contracts out other workers to help with the guided tours.

“When you get out there, there’s so much to experience. The rugged, beautiful nature, and you see whales and eagles and grizzly bears. It’s just majestic. It’s just beautiful; I love it,” he says. “When you get out into the woods, to me, it’s like Jurassic Park; you never know what you’re going to find, and you have the big trees and the dark forest and all that kind of stuff. There’s just so much to see.”

Major spent much of his childhood in the Canadian bush. He spent time with First Nations people and listened to local legends and stories of Sasquatch, he says.

In the summer of 1979, he was working on Huaskin Lake with his father when they saw large footprints. Snapped trees, known in Sasquatch lore as “tree breaks,” surrounded the tracks, claims Major.

“That made it real for me at that point—all the legend and all the lore, the stories that we’ve heard,” he says.

Starting in 2000, Major would head up to his childhood stomping grounds for vacations. In 2014, after a bigfoot sighting, he decided to return to the Vancouver Island area in his spare time with the goal of proving the existence of bigfoot, he says.

What began as a hobby bloomed into a business after other tour industry members suggested he form a company.

“One thing led to another, and that’s where Extreme Expeditions Northwest LLC came from,” he says.

Extreme Expeditions Northwest’s office occupies 300 square feet of space at 12623 E. Sprague, in a 920-square-foot suite it shares with accounting firm Mitch Johnson CPA. 

Major chose to open the business for two reasons. First, he was going to research bigfoot anyway, so he might as well make money doing it, he says. Secondly, he wanted other people to have the opportunity to experience what Sasquatch investigators do and “learn things that are not conjecture, to really experience what it’s like to be out there” while also seeing beautiful country, he claims.

“It’s absolutely an adventure of a lifetime,” he says.

Because of the potential of people to contaminate research sites, Major declines to disclose specific locations that the company takes guests, except to say the tours focus on the Vancouver Island area. Places guests camp and visit have been selected through years of research, he says.

Major says he wants people to experience bigfoot tracking and what that entails, such as Sasquatch’s hollering, but the tour company also wants people to experience “the beauty of nature and experience the thrill and risk of being out there,” says Major.

Currently, Extreme Expeditions Northwest offers four packages. The company is still tinkering with pricing, but the lowest-price package, the Sasquatch Research Camp, costs about $3,200 per person, says Major.

That trip, which is three days, land-based, and includes transportation, meals, and gear, is “the barebones, basic package for somebody who’s interested in having an encounter with Sasquatch,” says Major. 

For the Sasquatch Research Camp tour, attendees go out to a specific location that tour company officials have identified previously to be possible Sasquatch stomping grounds, set up gear, and try to catch sight of a bigfoot.

“Most of the Sasquatch activity occurs at night,” claims Major. “So, you’re pretty much on your toes. You don’t get a lot of sleep. There’s no bonfires, roasting hotdogs, that kind of stuff.”

On the other end of the spectrum is The Beast of the Broughton tour, which costs about $6,500 per person and offers five nights aboard a yacht, says Major.

“Not only do we go to specific locations that we’ve identified where the likelihood (is highest) of having an encounter or at least seeing firsthand evidence of Sasquatch’s presence, but there’s also a cultural and historical component of that tour,” he says.

Guests visit one of the oldest First Nations villages in British Columbia, learn about local First Nations lore, says Major. Guests also fish, stop in two areas he’s identified where Sasquatch may visit, and enjoy a scenic helicopter ride.

The tour company can’t guarantee that guests will see a Sasquatch, but Major claims guests will be more likely to encounter one on an Extreme Expedition Northwest tour. He claims his tours are authentic and don’t contain any fake scenarios to make people feel like they’ve come upon bigfoot without actually doing so.

Major claims to have run into Sasquatch. “Sometimes I’ve gone up there, and I haven’t had an encounter … other times, they can be very aggressive. I had one stand two feet behind me in the middle of the night.”

When researching, he and his crew wear GoPro cameras and take several photographs, but he’s hesitant to publish anything that is blurry.

“If you can’t identify what it is, there’s no point in (posting) it,” he says.

Major also says guest safety is the company’s top priority; subsequently, people who wish to join a tour must meet certain requirements, such as a certain level of fitness and experience with the outdoors.

“On these tours, there’s a potential for loss of life,” says Major. “The places that we’re going, it’s deep wilderness. You’ve got grizzlies. You’ve got mountain lions. You’ve got wolves. You’ve got Sasquatch, and sometimes the weather can be unforgiving … there’s a number of risks involved in that.”

Although Major is the only employee of Extreme Expeditions Northwest, the tour company contracts with workers to help with tours, transportation, and equipment.

Contracted personnel also includes Adam Davies, an author, cryptozoologist, and the tour’s primary tracker, and Thomas Sewid, guide and member of the Kwakwaka’wakw, or Kwakiutl, First Nations peoples of the Alert Bay, British Columbia, Indian Reserve.

Major says any revenue for this year is purely speculative, but he projects the company will make between $65,000 and $70,000 in tours this year.

When not working with the tour company, Major acts as president and CEO of The Private Money Store Inc., a private money and mortgage brokering business he’s operated for 26 years. To spend more time on the fledgling tour company, he’s scaled back that business and mainly works with existing clients, he says.

When asked what he would say to a skeptic interested in experiencing a tour, Major responds, “Come with us. When you’re done, you’ll be a believer.”

Samantha Peone
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Reporter Samantha Peone joined the Journal in 2015 as research coordinator before later transitioning into a reporter role. She covers real estate and construction.

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