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Seems more than once a year this happens somewhere in Alaska.  Usually this happens along the shores of Turnagain Arm, Ship Creek, Knik Arm or somewhere else realitively close to Anchorage.  The glacial silt in the inlets, is very viscous, resembling quicksand and is impossible to free yourself from without professional assistance.  Tides near Anchorage are the very dramatic, second only to the Bay of Fundi in British Columbia, and have a differential of 34 feet between higher high water and lower low water.  Here's an example of what happened in Kodiak recently.  From the Anchorage Daily News.

Men stuck in mud saved from oncoming tide by ranger
RESCUE Governor commends Kevin Murphy for pulling two fishermen out of lagoon last year.

By Peter Porco
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 28, 2002)

Two unidentified fishermen got stuck in the mud of a saltwater lagoon in Shuyak Island State Park, about 60 miles north of Kodiak, on Aug. 23. Ranger Kevin Murphy gingerly treaded on a makeshift walkway of branches and boards to get to them. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Natural Resources)


The incoming tide at the northern end of the Kodiak archipelago brings in a lot of water. The tidal swing at Big Bay in Shuyak Island State Park, for instance, is 17 feet, said state parks ranger Kevin Murphy.

Therefore, Murphy said, about the worst place a person would want to be is stuck in the mud of a lagoon at the head of one of Big Bay's inlets, with high tide on its way.

Yet that's exactly where two Louisiana fishermen found themselves one day last August after trying to cross the drained lagoon at low tide. One man stood thigh deep in the muck. The other, farther from shore, was buried to his waist.

Murphy, who was on his patrol vessel not far away, got a distress radio call from campers there and headed quickly to Little Creek Lagoon.

With the help of the campers, two companions of the trapped fishermen and his assistant, the ranger engineered a rescue that freed the men less than three hours after they got stuck, he said.

The rescue came to light recently when Murphy was presented with a commendation from Gov. Tony Knowles at a training conference in Anchorage. Murphy's quick thinking saved the men from a tide that "would have consumed them in a short amount of time," according to a statement by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Murphy, a 43-year-old ranger in his 12th season at Shuyak, said he would prefer to think that the two men and the four others at the lagoon would not have needed his help. But he also said that when he got there, none of them had a plan.

On Aug. 23, the anglers, whose names were not available, started walking around the perimeter of Little Creek Lagoon, headed for a place to fish. The ebb tide had nearly bottomed out, and they decided instead to walk directly across the lagoon, about 150 yards.

"They have chest waders on, so it's not a big deal. They figure it's not that deep," Murphy said. They walked abreast.

Two got across in ankle-deep mud. Past the halfway point, however, the two others began to bog down.

"As they got closer to shore, they're sinking six inches, eight inches, 10 inches, 12 inches," Murphy said.

When Murphy arrived, the man closer to shore, in his 50s, was sunk past his knees. His companion, a few years younger, was waist deep.

Though the tide was turning, the men were calm. They never considered their lives in danger, Murphy said. But they were.

"This lagoon is well over someone's head when it fills up, about 15 feet deep," he said. "In the first hour, it comes in pretty slow. It's the second and third hour you got to worry about."

The onshore group gathered driftwood to lay across the mud. Then Murphy walked out to the nearer man.

"I was tip-toeing my way out there on these boards and sticks," he said. He had first planned to lift the trapped men out of their waders, but the men were wearing boots over their waders and had tied the boots snug.

"So there's no way you're going to pull them out," he said.

Instead, the rescuers dug away the mud and an hour later brought out the first man, who was exhausted.

By then, 4 to 6 inches of water had flooded alongside the second man, and Murphy and another person paddled out to him in an inflatable boat that had been left by hikers.

The trapped fisherman grabbed the boat's lines.

"We reached for the waders, and he pretty much popped out," Murphy said.

Several folks have died when becoming stuck in the mud and the tide rushed in.  There is a very sad and horrifying story about a newlywed couple on their honeymoon where the woman became stuck and could not be freed.  The troopers, fire department and her husband tried in vain to free her till the tide took her life.  The Cook Inlet tide change is much more violent and often produces "bore tides" along Turnagain Arm.  Digging out has proved to be futile and the only reliable way of getting is pumping water around the victims legs.  It requires highly specialized equipment and time is not on your side.

For anyone visiting Alaska, please take heed, in my opinion, I'd rather deal with the bears.  Be careful out there.
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