August 11, 2007 – The Bore Tide

Today and tomorrow are to be some of the better viewing days of the bore tides in Turnagain Arm. What are bore tides, you ask? Well, since you asked…

Imagine one wave stretched out like a wide carpet, unrolling in froth as it sweeps into a basin of water. Turnagain Arm’s narrow, shallow and gently sloping basin is ideal for this natural phenomenon. As the tide rises in Cook Inlet, it fills Turnagain Arm so rapidly that a tidal flood (or “bore tide”) is formed when incoming water collides with outgoing water. Bore tides vary from ½ foot to 6 feet high and travel at speeds of 10-15 mph. A large range in tide also causes this phenomenon. Turnagain Arm’s most extreme (the measurement from the lowest low to the highest high) is almost 40 feet. Extreme minus tides and new or full moon periods create the most dramatic bore tides. (Yes, I did copy that, but I still have pictures.) Anyway, today’s range in tide is 31 feet and there is a new moon so we were hoping for the best.

Some of you may have seen the program on the history channel or the discovery channel – it was listed as surfing in Alaska. Yes, some people do surf on these tides.

So this morning we went looking for a good viewpoint around the campground – Nada! We did find a spot yesterday about 6 miles down the Hope Highway. So off we went with the Tracker loaded with chairs, snacks, and drinks and set up at ~ 1 PM to wait for the bore tide. Such fun – we met so many people (since this was also a good viewpoint for Turnagain Arm) and had such nice chats.

And then ~ 4 PM, the bore tide came thru. Actually there were 2 carloads of people that were following it down the Arm. They came into the viewpoint and told us that it was on its way.

Some pictures:

Before (notice the calm waters):

Here is comes (from left to right):

We are not sure how high the tide was since we were on a bluff, but it was still incredible to see. And the water just kept rushing in - like a very fast high tide!!!

Nothing like spending a Saturday afternoon just watching the tides – what a journey!!

Another wonderful day in Alaska and another wonderful campfire.

Just another note: In the past 2 weeks everywhere we have traveled we have seen incredible wildflowers and berries. Here is one picture:

And these plants are tall – here is one of me from a few days again in the middle of them.

Isn’t that amazing!!

We are leaving here tomorrow to go to Portage and Whittier and hope to see more of the glaciers!!

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