Alaska Nature August 25, 2017
The Sinister Story Behind This Popular Alaska Beach Will Give You Chills
Anchorage, as its name suggests, is a port city. Situated right on the coast of the Cook Inlet, the city is surrounded by ocean water. Kincaid Beach is a great spot near the city with a large sandy beach where many come to play in the sand and have bonfires. Beyond the sandy beach are miles of smooth, innocent looking mudflats that seem easy to walk across at low tide. But these mudflats are brutal and have taken many lives. Tragedy has led to individuals being stuck in the mud when the icy tides flood back in. The chilling story of this popular area will make your blood run cold.
Anchorage is situated on the coast of the Turnagain Arm, one of two narrow branches at the north end of Cook Inlet, the other being Knik Arm. At low tide, miles of glacial silt stretch out the to mountains beyond the Inlet.
Kincaid Beach sits on the edge on the city and is it a popular place to spend the day. When the tide is low, just beyond the sandy beach the mud flats stretch out. They may be tempting to explore, but are extremely dangerous.
People often want to brave the mud to hunt or walk to Fire Island, a large forested island in the Cook Inlet. Many people cross the flats at low tide and return safely.
Groups from fat bike enthusiasts to scouts make trips to Fire Island from time to time, but an adventure on the mud flats should be very well planned with the tide schedule.
Aside from the obvious danger of getting lost in the fog, the major fear is the quicksand-like glacial silt that comprises the mud flats. Much like quicksand, the more you move, the deeper you get stuck.
The silt washes down from the glaciers in the mountains at an alarming rate. The water is completely opaque from the silt content. When the silt is still and resting, it can be as solid as concrete.
Microscopically, the silt particles are in a delicate, loosely oriented pattern while mixed with the water. When disturbed buy a human foot, these particles resettle into a more tightly packed arrangement.
Once you have gotten stuck in the mud, it is very difficult to get out. Local rescuers have a water pump to help with mud rescues, but it is always a race against the tide.
The Bore Tide is a natural phenomenon where a huge wave of icy ocean water ruches across the cook inlet as the tide returns. Many visitors make a point to see the tide rush in, and there are even surfers that follow the wave for miles.
The icy water is dangerous to anyone stuck out on the mudflats. When the tide comes in, the tragedies happen. The wave can be up to 10 feet tall depending on the tide levels, the moon cycle and the winds.
In 1961, a soldier from Ft. Richardson named Roger Cashin became stuck in the mud. A helicopter tried to pull him out and the rope snapped leaving him to drown.
18-year-old Adeana Dickison passed away on July 16, 1988 after she went out on a four-wheeler with her husband to gold mine. Her foot was stuck in the mud, and despite desperate rescue attempts, she drowned in the icy water.
Forty-two-year-old Army Capt. Joseph Hugh Eros drown in June of 2013 trying to beat the tide back to shore. These tragic deaths remind us to take seriously the threat of the dangerous and cold ocean.
Use extreme caution near the mudflats and know that getting stuck in the mud flats can, and has had deadly consequences.
Do you have a story of a heroic rescue on the Anchorage mud flats? Tell us about it in the comments below.