A hiker in Alaska who went missing after reporting she was attacked by bears was found alive on Wednesday.
Hiker Fina Kiefer, 55, a resident of Alaska, was on the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Palmer, about 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 that she had been accused by several bears and that she had used her bear spray to try to repel them. She asked for help, but Kiefer then stopped answering phone calls and texts.
Alaska State Soldiers began a search effort that morning that included volunteers, an air search from the Alaska National Guard, the Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol, and K9 units. .
The search continued until Wednesday without any evidence from Kiefer. The service decided to stop the search around 4:30 p.m. due to bad weather and continue the search the next morning.
However, nearly an hour later, a volunteer leaving the area saw Kiefer alive.
“She was standing by the side of the road,” Stephen Dunphy, with the Alaskan Solstice Search Dogs, told NBC KTUU Anchorage. “She saved herself. She was really cold when I picked her up.”
Dunphy said he gave Kiefer the food in his lunchbox and brought it back to a base camp so that it could be seen by emergency personnel.
“I’m glad she’s safe, and I would do it again,” he added. “I will do it again, I’m sure.”
The Alaska Department of Public Safety said Kiefer suffered 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 of encountering bears and moose, according to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Laxson added that the bears pushed Kiefer off the trail and she spent the two days wandering through the brush. He said she was able to start a fire overnight before she was found.
“I just have to say that she is a remarkable woman who is in very good shape and is very capable of taking care of herself,” said Laxson.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.