Turnagain Arm is one of two branches of Cook Inlet just south of Anchorage and north of Kenai Peninsula. It is second only to Bay of Fundy in extreme tidal differences in North America at 40 ft. With the right conditions, the incoming tide creates a wave that rushes in from the open sea that surfers and kayakers can ride for miles.
Dan only planned to sit in the truck and watch the bore tide come in today to get an idea of what to expect. Twenty minutes before it came, two guys drove up with their boards on their trucks and talked him into paddling out with minutes to go.
It was freezing out but we all needed to see this wave created from the changing in tides. It was something I didn’t even know existed and we were all about see for the first time in our lives.
He was in the right spot when the wave rolled up. He turned around and started paddling. Not knowing what to expect, he tried to ‘superman’ it by paddling into the wave on his feet.
The white wash pushed the board out from under him and as he crawled back up to the board, he saw the only wave of the day roll slowly away. But don’t worry. He’s taking what he learned and hitting it again tomorrow!
Here is a shot of the locals surfing the bore tide on this dreary but beautiful day at Bird Point, which is just south of Anchorage.
I was amazed that these locals knocked on our truck door and insisted that Dan join them. Who’s ever heard of that?!?! Locals wanting you to join them on their one wave of the day?!?! Oh, Alaska. Even though Dan didn’t catch the wave today, it was an unforgettable experience.
Our oldest kid Ava kept an eye on her daddy the entire time he wasn’t by her side. She knew the dangers of the mudflats in the Turnagain Arm, how they’re basically quicksand. She didn’t complain about the cold or wind while he was in the water below. She stood tall and strong, waiting.
The other two kids? The photo speaks for itself. Haha.
We ended up dry camping at the Williwaw Campground, near the town for Girdwood, as a base camp for more surfing at Bird Point and for exploring glaciers around Portage Lake.
It was super quiet here and the views of a glacier from the campground were awesome.
The kids enjoyed relaxing in the toasty Airstream after standing outside in the gloom watching their dad in the water.
The fireweed plants are still going strong. A good sign that summer is far from over in Alaska. Once the blooms are spent, it will be a sign to get out of Alaska, fast.
Condensation (and broken screens) might be annoying to us but not to the kids. Art time!
This greeted us at the campsite when we arrived.
The next morning, we stopped by the Portage Visitor Center to figure out which glacier hikes would be the most family friendly. Out of the hundred something movies we’ve watched at visitor centers across the country, this is the very first one that surprised us. After the movie was done, the screen rolls up and BAM. An amazing view of Portage Lake and its glaciers. Well done, Alaska!!
The hike we chose to do was to Byron Glacier. To check out our adventure from this glacier, you can read about it on the Family Trails site.
The sun finally decided to make an appearance today. Just in time for Dan to try to ride the bore tide back at Bird Point.
Once again, the kids and I sat atop the cliff, trying to figure which one of the black blobs in the water was Dan.
“I think I see Dada. I think he is surfing!!”
“Gimme those binoculars, please!”
Finally on his second try, he caught the incoming tide and rode it for what felt like forever before getting tossed behind the white water into the shallow and silty bottom of Turnagain Arm. It was not at all what he imagined.
It may not look like much from shore but that wave trucks steadily along like a freight train. He did not expect the wave to have so much personality and feel so alive as it interacts with the dynamic glacially carved coastline.
He did not ride it for as long as he hoped but it ranks right up there amongst the hundreds or maybe thousands he’s ridden in his life.
Climbing back up to the cliff was no easy task with that heavy paddle board but well worth it.
I have a feeling that he just might be back again for another tango before Alaska is in our rear view.
We ended up back at the campground to hitch up the Airstream and make a quick stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood, Alaska.
This is place is unique because they try to rehab the animals to get them ready for release back into the wild.
Seeing these moose up close with those antlers is amazing. Hope he gets to run wild and free very soon.
And altogether now…. ahhhhh, baby moose!!!!
And the porcupine with his butt waddle comes a close second.
Looks like the elk herd here is slated for release very soon.
Hugging sister! Ahhh.
And then came in the grizzly bears.
Look at those massive humps on their backs.
Not sure how releases go for bears when they are surrounded by people all day long.
Hopefully they will be able to get released far from humans and enjoy the rest of their lives where they belong.
Our stop here was a memorable one, but we must keep moving. Off to Hope, Alaska we go!
Thanks for reading,