In a story that made international news, a cold, wet and distressed hiker was spotted on a web camera run by in the Katmai National Park earlier this month. Viewers of the popular bear cameras noticed the desperate man staring into the Dumpling Mountain camera on Sept. 5, asking for help. He was enveloped by wet, foggy and low visibility weather. Viewers quickly notified the website’s monitor, who alerted park rangers.

The alpine camera overlooks Brooks River Falls where giant brown bears gather below to gorge themselves on salmon in preparation for their annual hibernation. It is one of 12 livestream cameras that draw thousands of daily viewers from around the world.

Camera footage shows a rescue team eventually escorting the stranded hiker off the mountain and back to safety.

The 2022 Fat Bear Week champion.

The man may well have benefited from the fact that viewers are preparing to cast votes for “Fat Bear Week,” an annual tradition in which web cam watchers choose which bear to crown as the fattest of them all. Launched in 2014, the annual contest draws nearly a million voters over the course of a week as viewers watch brown bears that can be upwards of 1,000 pounds gorge themselves on spawning salmon. Voting for Fat Bear Week takes place over several days in early October, but web traffic gains momentum in the lead up to the contest.

The purpose of Katmai National Park and Preserve is to protect, study, and interpret active volcanism surrounding the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, extensive coastal resources, habitats supporting a high concentration of salmon and brown bears, and an ongoing story of humans integrated with a dynamic subarctic ecosystem.

While Katmai is open year-round for hikers, it is a remote wilderness park with few services, and is inaccessible by car. According to the Katmai National Park website, most backcountry users find that they “need skills beyond basic camping skills to have a safe and memorable experience.”

Alaska hiker rescued after Katmai bear cam viewers spot him on livestream

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.