Forget the Bermuda Triangle, have you heard of the Alaska Triangle? It’s the place where two thousand ordinary people a year disappear. It’s so strange and unexplained that the Travel channel made a show, The Alaska Triangle, to investigate weird occurrences like Bigfoot and UFOs. The 32,0000 square mile triangle cuts through the state’s middle, with points at Anchorage and Juneau in the south and Barrow in the north. It’s some of the most dangerous and inhospitable wilderness on earth.
There’s a Tlingit legend about creatures who are half otter and half man, called Kushtaka. The shape-shifters are the stars of scary stories told on Alaskan camping trips. It’s said they torture people with their worst fears, by making them into reality. They also lure children into the woods and either eat or turn them into Kushtaka. Most people believe that mothers tell their kids stories of Kushtaka to keep them from wandering in the woods alone.
The subject of Into the Wild, first a book by Jon Krakauer and then a movie starring Emile Hirsch, McCandless disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness like hundreds of people each year. However, there’s no mystery about what happened to McCandless, as moose hunters discovered his body less than a month after his death. He starved to death, ill-prepared for the harsh reality of trying to live off the land in Alaska. While not mysterious, it’s what happens to many of Alaska’s missing people; seduced by wild freedom but without survival skills.
The first big story that drew public attention to the Alaska Triangle was that of the disappearance of Hale Boggs. He was a Democratic House Representative from Louisiana and the House majority leader. In 1972 he was aboard a Cessna plane flying from Anchorage to Juneau. He, along with another Congressman, an aide, and a pilot, disappeared into the Alaska Triangle on the way to a fundraising dinner. The search for the plane and the missing Congressmen went on for over a month, but no trace was found of the plane.
The yearly Mount Marathon race takes place in Seward, Alaska. It’s a grueling three-mile trail with over 3,000 feet of elevation change. Hundreds of runners flock to the small town, each having won a race number in a competitive lottery. Michael LeMaitre was in good shape, but an older gentleman and slower than the other racers. Race officials were packing up the course when they last saw LeMaitre, a scant 200 feet below the mountain peak. They encouraged him to finish the race, expecting he’d be back down the mountain in no time. LeMaitre not only didn’t finish the race but was never seen again. To this day, no trace of him has ever been found. There’s no straightforward explanation for what could have happened to him during a crowded race event. It just goes to show how easy it is to disappear in Alaska.
For people who study Big Foot and Sasquatch, Alaska is an ideal habitat for the man/animal hybrid. The secretive creatures can live in solitude in the open, untamed countryside. Stories of Big Foot sightings abound across the entire state. But in the 1930s, in the town of Port Chatham, the sightings became more sinister. Mysterious disappearances, violent murders, and even mutilations plagued the town. Eventually, the residents abandoned their homes, tired of living in fear of the forest. As recently as the 70s, people who hunted in the area still experienced weird incidents like stalking by a massive creature on two feet.