A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)

Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

  • Jun. 17, 2021 4:30 p.m.

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on a trail reached a road and flagged down help Wednesday, authorities said.

Bill Laxson, an Alaska Mountain Rescue Group member involved in the search, told Alaska’s News Source bear encounters pushed Kiefer off the trail and that she was not able to find her way back to the trail so she had to keep going downhill.

“And she spent two days wading through brush,” he said.

A volunteer search and rescue member notified Alaska State Troopers Wednesday evening that Fina Kiefer had walked out of the woods, about a mile from the trail head, and flagged him down for help, according to information released by the troopers and Alaska National Guard.

The troopers said Kiefer, 55, from Palmer, was injured and taken to a hospital for evaluation. The injuries were believed to have been caused by a fall while descending a mountain, troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel said by email.

The troopers said they received a call early Tuesday of a solo hiker who needed help on Pioneer Ridge Trail near Palmer, in south-central Alaska. The woman contacted her husband asking for help “after being charged by multiple bears and discharging bear spray.” After that, the hiker stopped responding to calls and texts, leading to a search effort, troopers said.

Stephen Dunphy, the volunteer who saw Kiefer emerge from the woods, said she “was standing on the side of the road. She self-rescued.”

Dunphy said Kiefer was cold and that he gave her food from his lunch box and took her to the basecamp, where emergency personnel helped.

Kiefer was found about an hour after troopers said search efforts for the day were being suspended “due to deteriorating weather in the area.”

The Associated Press