UMPI sits on the edge of Presque Isle. Most students are familiar with the bike paths and narrow trails through the woods behind campus. If you wander through UMPI’s wooded backyard you will likely come across other students and at least a couple of the large gray-tailed squirrels that call UMPI home. During one such walk in the first week of March, two freshmen claimed to have encountered something much hairier and smellier than any student or squirrel previously seen on campus.
The adventure started off like any other day. The two freshmen roommates, Roger Patterson and Bobby Gimlin, skipped an afternoon class, instead choosing to get some fresh air. Wanting to get off the beaten trail, the two decided to play hooky on snowshoes. “I had gotten a pair of snowshoes for Christmas and Bobby borrowed a pair from my brother,” Roger said.
Heading for the wooded area behind Wieden Hall, the boys glided effortlessly on top of the snowbanks. Bobby had never used snowshoes before but soon got the hang of it. It was an overcast but mild winter day. The sun struggled to shine down through the snow blanketed trees of the woods. Suddenly a waft of strong odor hit the boys simultaneously. “I thought a skunk had sprayed somewhere close,” Bobby said.
“I thought someone had made the trek to the woods to enjoy an especially potent strain of marijuana,” Roger said. The pair stayed put, but the smell only got worse. Something moved just out of sight behind some trees. Roger and Bobby stretched their necks and squinted to glimpse the smelly lurker. They saw a dark, hairy figure crouched down in the snow. It became clear this wasn’t a bearded hipster out enjoying nature. “This thing was covered in hair. My first thought was that it looked like a bear, but I knew they were still hibernating,” Roger said.
Unable to move or look away, the truant adventurers found themselves frozen in the presence of a monster. The creature stood up and faced Roger and Bobby, showing its face. “Its face was all hair. If it had features they were buried under a mat of fur,” Bobby said.
It was obvious that this creature was massive and judging by the smell had a hard time keeping its fur clean. Before the boys could study it any longer, the beast let out a mighty roar. Roger and Bobby almost sprinted out of the woods at this growl. As Bobby looked back he caught a glimpse of the beast hiding behind a tree.
Despite the fright they got from the encounter, the freshmen didn’t sense any ill intent from the snowman. “I got the feeling he was just as scared of us as we were of him when I saw him hiding behind that tree,” Bobby said.
“I like to think he was getting close to campus in an effort to learn about what goes on here,” Roger said.
So if you plan to take a walk in the woods behind campus, don’t be too surprised if you come across a yeti looking for an education.