The rash of early-season Anchorage bear encounters worsened Sunday morning when a 30-year-old Eagle River hiker was mauled by a grizzly sow protecting her cub on the Penguin Creek Trail, which branches off from the Bird Creek Trail, approximately a 35-minute drive south of Anchorage.

Solo hiker Benjamin E. Radakovich was swiped repeatedly by the sow and eventually managed to escape by climbing high into a nearby tree and calling 911 from there at 7:42 a.m.

According to KTUU, Radakovich had pepper spray with him, but the episode unfolded so quickly he didn't have a chance to use it. Instead, he curled up in an effort to protect his vital organs as the sow took swipes. During a lull, Radakovich managed to scramble up the tree.

Alaska State Troopers, Chugach State Park rangers, Alaska Department of Fish and Game staffers, and Girdwood fire department personnel responded. The encounter took place about 3 miles from the trailhead.

The troopers' helicopter was called in to transport Radakovich to Providence Alaska Medical Center.