Lost Hiker in Alaska Used Bear Cam to Ask for Help

(DailyVantage.com) – A hiker became lost in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska during windy and rainy weather. The man wisely walked in front of one of the twelve cameras in the park that are used for bear watching. Viewers watching the live stream from the Dumpling Mountain camera saw the man approach the camera, mouthing the words “help me”. He walked away but returned a few minutes later and gave the camera a “thumbs down” signal. A viewer saw the distressed hiker and notified the chat moderator, who then notified the Katmai Park Rangers. The hiker remained near the camera while waiting for rescuers. Park rangers located him about three hours later and escorted him safely to Brooks Camp.

The cameras, which are operated by Explore.org, are normally used for viewing brown bears in the Katmai Park area. A tradition called “Fat Bear Week” is approaching sometime in early October. An exact date has not yet been set. During Fat Bear Week, viewers watch the brown bears prepare for hibernation and vote on which bear has put on the most weight. Brown bears are drawn to the salmon in Katmai Park.

According to Mike Fitz, a naturalist with Explore.org and former park ranger, around 10 million viewers watched the live stream from the web cams last year. Fitz said the Dumpling Mountain camera sits about 2200 feet above sea level and usually captures more scenery than wildlife. The day the hiker was rescued, only 12 viewers had logged into the livestream for this area.

The camera is approximately two miles from the nearest trail, which the National Park Service describes as a “strenuous hike”. The altitude causes the weather to become unpredictable and visibility to be diminished by fog, rain, or snow. Fitz is unclear on how the hiker found the camera. There are solar panels and wind turbines, but the area they cover is small in comparison to the vastness of the remote wilderness.

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