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Finding Minnesota: Cuyuna Lakes Yeti

CROSBY, Minn. (WCCO) -- For all they've tried, searchers haven't found Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest or the Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas. But if you believe the stories being told in central Minnesota, another mysterious creature is on the prowl in the Crosby-Ironton area.

Bruce Swanson, a local musician known as Father Klunker, wrote a song about it, to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

"There's a tale on the Range, just a little bit strange, 'bout a big cat they call the Lakes Yeti," the song begins.

It's about a beast spotted roaming in the snowy hills of the Cuyuna Lakes region, a creature that keeps watch on the bikers in the woods.

"I think he's about 6-foot, 6-foot-2, somewhere in there," said Swanson. "He can run as fast as I can pedal my bike."

As the locals tell it, the Cuyuna Lakes Yeti has mostly kept his distance, not causing too much alarm.

Shaun Anderson rides his fat tire bike through the local trails and claims he's had a few brief sightings.

"I'm OK with him as long as he can't catch me," he said.

In fact, all the sightings have brought some welcome publicity.

The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew is getting ready for a fat tire bike event known as The Whiteout.

"We have a winter fat bike race right at Sagamore, the home of the Yeti," said Aaron Hautala, president of the Mountain Bike Crew. "We don't know exactly where he is out here, but we know he's out here."

The "out here" he referred to is the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, which used to be an iron mining site.

It now has hilly, groomed trails through the woods, which is perfect for the fat tire bikes.

"Fat biking has been around for eight years," said Hautala, "but in the last two to three years it's just kind of exploded. You're seeing them in the winter, you're seeing them in the summer and I think you're going to see a lot more of them."

The Yeti, it turns out, has actually become a local celebrity.

He'll show up at the Ya Betcha Bar and Grill in Crosby, and post photos on his Facebook page.

"We find a way to make winter awesome," said Hautala. "That's what makes Minnesota awesome."

They hope the Yeti will draw people in, rather than scare them away. They say he's a symbol of the "wild side" hidden in all of us.

The Whiteout starts Friday, March 1, and continues on Saturday. It helps raise money for the Cuyuna Lakes mountain bike trails.

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