Gina and I spent Friday night chasing a bore tide down Turnagain Arm.
A bore tide is a natural wonder that occurs in a variety of places around the world. The bore tide in Turnagain Arm just south of Anchorage is said to be the northernmost bore tide and in one of the most spectacular settings. A bore tide is a rush of seawater that returns to a narrowing body of water; the wall of water can be 6 to 10 feet tall and travel between 10 and 15 mph.
While we were racing down the Seward Highway we felt a bit like those crazy tornado chasers in the Lower 48. Only we weren’t quite as crazy; the bore tides are perfectly safe as long as you stay away from the water and mud flats.
We set up shop at Beluga Point along with dozens of other bore watches. And we waited. And waited. Anchorage’s low tide was about 5:15 p.m., and the bore should have arrived at Beluga Point around 6 p.m. 6 o’clock came and went. Then, in the distance, I saw the distinctive wave pushing up the Arm. We’d somehow missed it.
We jumped in the car to chase the wave. We caught it at Windy Corner and for the next three hours or so we repeated the catch-chase-catch scenario all the way to Girdwood. Just outside Girdwood, we saw a surfer wading into Turnagain Arm ahead of the advancing bore. He rode the wave for several minutes. We headed down the road to grab some ice cream before turning back for Anchorage.
While bore tides happen daily, some are small and difficult to see. The next large bores are expected Aug. 8-12 and Sept. 7-9. If you are around town, be sure to head south on the Seward Highway for a look.
On the return trip past Windy Corner, several Dall sheep were standing alongside the highway -- a perfect way to end a unique Alaska outing.