Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Search for human-eating demon on Lost River State Forest trail

Mysterious creature allegedly
haunts Minnesota woods

Those with a taste for the supernatural can day hike through woodland where some say a mysterious monster that eats human flesh resides.

The wendigo has been reported for centuries on the plains of Canada and northern Minnesota, first by Native Americans and then residents of the small U.S. town of Roseau. A 1.5-mile out-and-back trail runs through prime wendigo country in the Lost River State Forest.

Owls and demons
To reach the trail, from Roseau, take State Hwy. 310 north. In a little more than six miles, the road enters the state forest. About 2.4 miles after crossing Sprague Creek, turn the next left/west onto a dirt road. Watch for dirt trail on the left running southwest, in about 900 feet from the intersection. Park off the road on the shoulder.

The trail runs about 0.75 miles through flat woodland. Paths in the 54,915-acre state forest are unnamed, so for the sake of reference, I’ve christened this route the Section 2 Trail, named after the designation of the grid it runs through on topo maps (Sort of like how “Area 51” received its name based on its Air Force topo map designation!).

Only a couple of miles south of the Canadian border, tamarack and black spruce dominate the bog-laden state forest. It is a birders paradise, with more than 200 species found here, most notably the great grey owl.

But the creature to really keep an eye out for may be the wendigo. It is described as thin and standing over 15 feet tall, and sporting sallow yellow skin, glowing eyes, long fangs, and an inhumanly long tongue. The demonic creature can live hundreds of years.

For centuries, Native Americans as far north as the Arctic have told of the wendigo. Inuit names for it roughly translate to “evil spirit that devours men.”

Wendigos used to be just like you and me – except one day tragedy forced them to turn to cannibalism to stay alive. The eating of human flesh transformed them into a monster…and their appetite for people as food remains. Native Americans blamed the wendigo for the disappearance of many who walked into forests.

For forty years from 1880-1920, a wendigo frequently appeared in Roseau. After each report, an unexpected death occurred soon thereafter.

While wendigo sightings have dropped off during the past century, they still do occur on these northern plains.

The best time to hike the Section 2 Trail is late summer or early fall when the ground is driest. Be sure to bring mosquito repellent.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.