The live video feed of a lush Alaskan hillside and brown bears bathing in a river at Dumpling Mountain in Katmai National Park and Preserve became obscured by a dense screen of fog, followed by a particularly alarming sight.
A disheveled hiker came into the frame around 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Explore.org, a website that operates wildlife webcams around the world, including one on Dumpling Mountain.
The man’s jacket appeared to be drenched. He looked cold and miserable and at one point looked into the camera and asked for help, his words drowned out by the wind. Earlier, he had given a thumbs-down gesture, Explore.org said in a statement.
“THERE IS A HIKER ASKING FOR HELP ON DUMPLING CAM,” one user commented on the stream.
“I called the local PD and tried my best not to sound like a crazy bear person in Oklahoma,” the user later commented. “I gave as much information as I could and am hoping help gets to him quickly.”
The moderators of the chat’s livestream alerted park rangers, who got in touch with Explore.org to coordinate a rescue.
“The park sent a search-and-rescue team to find the hiker, who was caught in windy and rainy conditions with poor visibility,” the National Park Service said in a statement. “Park rangers found the hiker a few hours later, unharmed, and brought the hiker back to safety.”
The hiker, who was not publicly identified, was found near the camera around 6:48 p.m., according to Explore.org. Footage from the camera shows two park rangers escorting the hiker off the mountain.
A spokeswoman for Explore.org noted that this was the first time that the organization’s cameras had been used in a search-and-rescue operation.
The rescue averted a potentially “serious” situation, according to Mark Sturm, the superintendent of the park. Temperatures can drop significantly overnight and can pose a threat to unprepared hikers, he said.
Mr. Sturm added that people frequently hike up the mountain but not under foggy conditions like those on Tuesday.
Katmai National Park and Preserve is in the northern region of the Alaska Peninsula. The Park Service describes it as “remote” and reachable only by plane or boat.
Katmai’s more than 4 million acres of wilderness are home to over 2,200 brown bears and play host to the annual “Fat Bear Week” — a weeklong competition that pits the park’s bears against each other to determine which is the bulkiest of all.
Hundreds of thousands of votes are cast online, many from avid viewers of Explore.org’s bear cams at the park, including the one on Dumpling Mountain, to ultimately crown the fattest bear.