For over ten years, someone has been patrolling the forests of Switzerland dressed in a gas mask, boiler suit and cloak. Every day, the mysterious man walks the same route through the forests. Until now, the figure has only been local folklore, spoken about in whispers and furtive giggles.
But the forest warrior, Switzerland’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster, has become so infamous that he has earned his own nickname: “Le Loyon”. Such is the infamy of this shadowy figure that speculation about his identity has now spilled over onto the internet.
A recent encounter between Le Loyon and a member of the public resulted in a photograph of the woodland mystery man, and renewed interest on the internet in finding out who is behind the gas mask.
He fixed his eyes on me, then turned around and walked off quietly. He – or she, for that matter – was not aggressive. I was with my family, they were frightened and I had to reassure them. Remaining cautious, I snapped a photo with my phone.
Patrick is just one of the people who has spoken out about an encounter with Le Loyon. He told Media-Libre.fr about his experience, which was so unnerving that he wished to remain anonymous.
Local resident Marianne Descloux of Maules told Le Matin of an experience that occurred during a walk in the woods this spring:
It was a rainy Sunday. He had on a cap, a dark cloak and gas mask. What goes on in his head? I don’t know. It was unpleasant. I hope I never run into him again.
One recorded encounter with Le Loyon is particularly unusual. On a hot summer’s day in 2012, a family driving through the forest in Maules saw Le Loyon on patrol, but this time he was holding a bouquet of flowers. Scared that he might attack them, they drove off.
Multiple theories exist as to the identity of the mysterious woodland figure. The most popular legend is that behind the gas mask lies a mentally-unstable woman, searching for companionship in the forest. Other tales tell of a man suffering from a debilitating skin condition, who fled to the forest in search of solace, covering himself head to toe in a boiler suit and gas mask.
A more recent theory is that Le Loyon is a survivalist, preparing for the end of the world in his army gear, harvesting food and building a woodland home to outlast the impending apocalypse.
Whatever the identity of the mysterious forest-dweller, residents of Maules are concerned. The Swiss police are working to try to make contact with Le Loyon. While he hasn’t done anything wrong, they are mindful of the local residents’ concerns and wish to deter the mystery man from behaving in such a strange way.
In the meantime, Le Loyon remains one of the internet’s most compelling and eccentric mysteries.