Palmer Hiker Found Alive After Two Days Of Search

Two More Bear Attacks In June UPDATE, Thursday, June 17th, 2021 A Matanuska Valley Palmer resident, 55 year old Fine Kiefer, emerged from th...

Two More Bear Attacks In June


UPDATE, Thursday, June 17th, 2021
A Matanuska Valley Palmer resident, 55 year old Fine Kiefer, emerged from the trail alive on Wednesday after two days on the flanks of Pioneer Peak. She was found by a volunteer search & rescue member on the Knik River Road, Troopers said. 

The hiker had not been heard from since she contacted her husband in the middle of the night to report that she was confronting bears on Tuesday. A massive search had taken place (see below.) Rescuers said she was taken to the hospital, and was injured -- but not from the bears -- according to KTUU. 



On May 19th, 2021, Allen Minish of Chitina was mauled and bitten on the head by a bear near Gulkana Airport, close to Glennallen. It was a sign of what might be a bad summer of bear attacks. 

Pioneer Peak (Journal file photo) 

FRUITLESS SEARCH OF TRAIL ON PIONEER PEAK
AS WOMAN ATTACKED BY MULTIPLE BEARS 

Not even a month later, an unnamed adult female hiker (according to the Alaska State Troopers) called her husband on June 15th at 1:30 in the morning to tell him that she was being charged at by a number of bears – and that she was using her pepper spray to try to repel them.

She never called or texted back after that. 

Troopers said that they went to the trailhead of the Pioneer Ridge Trail near Butte and Palmer, and "conducted a hasty search of the first section of the trail with no results." The Rescue Coordination Center started an aerial search, and on Tuesday, June 15th deployed a rescue team to fly the trail. They said they flew the area many times on Tuesday. Troopers said a land-based search with volunteers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and MATSAR searched the area also, using K9 dogs. 

By Wednesday, June 16th, the woman had not yet been found. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and MATSAR had worked until close to midnight on their ground searches. Taking advantage of the midsummer light, which allows daylong visibility, the Alaska Air National Guard kept up its aerial searches, Troopers said. The Alaska Army National Guard will help on Wednesday, and ground search teams continued using K9s in the search.

The Pioneer Ridge Trail is almost 14 miles long. "AllTrails.com" (a site for climbers) reports on the internet that the trail is "lightly trafficked" and "only recommended for "very experienced adventurers". It climbs to a height of 6,637 feet, and terminates near the top of Pioneer Peak. Pioneer Peak is the iconic mountain behind Palmer, and is named for the "pioneers" who came from the Midwest in 1935, under Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, to start a farming colony and pull them out of poverty from the Great Depression. 


Skilak Lake (Wikipedia) 

CAMPERS ATTACKED BY BEAR WHILE SLEEPING
IN TENT ON SKILAK LAKE NEAR COOPER LANDING

Meanwhile, a few days before, at midnight on Saturday, June 12th, two campers were sleeping in a tent around a mile from the road on Skilak Lake. A bear entered the tent and attacked them. It was so fast they didn't have time to spray them, Fish & Game told the Anchorage Daily News

Alone, and an hour away by kayak from help and without cell phone service, the campers had to set out on their own to get assistance. According to the Associated Press on June 14th, it was not clear how bad their injuries were. 

Skilak Lake is in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and is a large, fish-shaped lake that's 15 miles long and up to 4 miles wide. 




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