This guy showed up in Cordova one day so I invited him to my Christmas party. Within the first hour of chatting with him he told me this story about getting mauled by a bear at work in Southeast Alaska.
"We were going to Sitkoh Bay on a trail that was supposed to be three miles out, three miles back along Sitkoh creek to Sitkoh lake. It was me, another guide, and 22 people. She was in the lead and I was sweeping in the back. We were strung out along this narrow little trail right next to a stream that was maybe 7 or 8 feet wide with a ton of salmon in it. We go through bear country all the time so lots of salmon on the trail, dead, but were all talking pretty loud, pretty unconcerned. Then probably like two miles in I heard a big roar."
"People who were towards the front of the group came rushing backwards telling me that there was a bear that had my co guide. In my mind I was thinking ‘oh yea bear encounter, she’s got it handled because she has been working as a guide in Alaska for eight years', but apparently there was a cub on one side of the trail and by the time anybody realized that the mom was already on her from the other side."
"All I had was bear spray so I grabbed it, took the safety off and ran towards where I thought she was. Suddenly there was a big ‘ol brown bear running at me so I sprayed and just held it. It must have been like four or five seconds and it was getting it directly in the face but it didn't just stop, it kept coming at me, bit me in the leg and knocked me down. My bearspray flung and I was curled up on the ground looking up in the face of this bear, just kinda thinking about my fate, like fuck this is it… but then it just walked off like it forgot what it was doing or something."
"I heard my co guide calling my name, I was able to walk over and start first aid, which was pretty intense. She was in pretty rough shape. She had gotten on the ground face down and covered her neck with her hands, so her face was fine and her organs and everything were fine. I called the boat and they called the coast guard who were able to land a helicopter nearby and flew us to Sitka. I got stitched up while they air lifted my co guide to Seattle. She just got out of Rehab."
"I don’t think any less of bears now, ya know, I respect them a lot more for sure. They are wild big giant animals that are kinda out there doing their thing and one of their things that they do is try to protect their cubs and hurt people. Its not the first bear attack, won’t be the last. I think that we could have been louder, we were right next to a rushing creek, we could have gone a little bit slower. We kinda had this goal in mind, we want to get to the lake, we only have six hours. I think it was just a bear being a bear."