A hiker in Alaska who went missing after reporting she was attacked by bears was found alive on Wednesday.
The hiker, 55-year-old Alaska resident Fina Kiefer, was on the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Palmer, roughly 45 miles northeast of Anchorage, when she was reported missing around 1 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
Kiefer had contacted her husband and told him she was charged by multiple bears and used her bear spray to try to fend them off. She asked for help, but Kiefer then stopped responding to phone calls and text messages.
Alaska State Troopers began a search effort that morning that included volunteers, an aerial search from the Alaska National Guard, the Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol and K9 units.
The search continued into Wednesday with no evidence of Kiefer. The department decided to stop search efforts around 4:30 p.m. due to bad weather and to continue searching the next morning.
However, nearly an hour later, a volunteer leaving the area saw Kiefer alive.
“She was standing on the side of the road,” Stephen Dunphy, with the Alaska Solstice Search Dogs, told NBC KTUU Anchorage. “She self-rescued. She was really cold when I picked her up.”
Dunphy said he gave Kiefer the food in his lunch box and took her back to a basecamp so she could be seen by emergency personnel.
“I’m glad that she’s safe, and I’d do it again,” he added. “I will do it again, I’m sure.”
The Alaska Department of Public Safety said Kiefer had some injuries and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Bill Laxson, a member of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, told the NBC affiliate that none of Kiefer’s injuries were from bears. The 12-mile trail is described as a difficult hike with chances to run into bears and moose, according to Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Laxson added that bears pushed Kiefer off the trail and she spent the two days wandering through brush. He said she was able to build a fire during the night before she was found.
“I would just have to say that she is a remarkable lady that’s in very good shape and is very capable of taking care of herself,” Laxson said.
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