MILLCREEK, Utah — A Utah woman is sharing a word of caution after she had a scary experience while hiking Sunday morning.
FOX 13 News spoke to this woman anonymously because she fears for her safety.
The woman and her dog were heading up a trail in Millcreek Canyon around 7 a.m. Sunday when a man approached her, asked to pet her dog, and read the dog’s name on its tag.
That escalated into the woman being followed.
“He just kind of disappeared off the trail, and that’s when I felt something in my stomach and I felt really weird," she said.
So, she turned around and started to walk down.
“There was someone up in the bushes," the woman said. "At the time I didn’t know who it was, then they started whistling, saying my dog’s name, trying to get him to go to the other side of the creek."
She says the man continued to call her dog, even though she asked him to stop. He then came up behind her, and she got her dog back on a leash and ran to her car, panicked.
“I think that is the scariest part — my dog is everything to me, so if he was to follow, then I was to follow too,” said the female hiker.
“The question of him, first of all, learning her dog's name, trying to call her dog, trying to get her to come to a particular location is frightening," said Sgt. Melody Cutler with Unified Police. "You always have to wonder, 'Why?'”
Cutler says the woman did the right thing in a situation that isn’t uncommon.
“The unfortunate thing is we have had some incidents in our canyons, because they’re isolated… it is an opportunity for people that are predatory to take advantage of a victim,” said Sgt. Cutler.
It’s a story that has resonated with women on social media after the hiker posted about her experience.
“I got a lot of comments back, people saying they’ve had similar experiences, most of them females, and some of them saying they now open carry while hiking because they don’t feel safe hiking,” said the woman.
“Hearing stories like that makes me nervous to come out here a lot if, I am honest,” said Parker Blue, a mom of twins who frequents the canyon.
FOX 13 News asked hikers in the area how they stay safe while hiking. Blue said she doesn’t usually hike solo, but if she does, she considers going somewhere familiar and populated.
“I like to come somewhere where I know there will be a lot of people around,” she said.
“Ultimately, the reality is there is safety in numbers," Sgt. Cutler said. "So that’s an ideal situation: if you can get someone to go with you."
And if you do go alone, bring something you feel comfortable with for personal protection, like mace.
“Whatever it is, you have to be comfortable using it, otherwise it becomes a tool used against you,” said Sgt. Cutler.
This hiker did file a police report.
She says she still hasn’t been back to that area to hike and doesn’t want to hike alone anymore.