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Thread: Silt Safety

  1. #1

    Default Silt Safety

    As part of a project I am working on, I am collecting information on the best way to traverse glacial silt, specifically in tidal regions.

    Does anyone have experineces, training or expertise in silt or silt rescue?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Keep moving

    Chest waders with separate boots, don't stop, keep moving Ive never been stuck until I stop. I start to worry if I'm past my knees with no solid bottom. If you need to turn back because its getting to deep go back the same way you came in(you made it there). Don't go in the mud that is extremely shiny it will swallow you and if you do get stuck don't panic lay down to disperse your weight and loose your waders if need be. Hope this helps.

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    Default

    The usual place you get stuck is at the bottom of guts & ravines. Much softer in there. Hard to walk around some of them though. Most run all the way to the beach.

    I know others that have packed short ladders to walk on. You can carry two, and stand on one while moving the other forward. It's real slow, but they are only needed for the really soft areas.

    I wonder how small snow shoes would work for this?

    You can extract a stuck foot by blasting air or water under your boot. A fire extinguisher can work if the hose is long enough.

    As kids we spent way too much time playing in Cook Inlet mud. Got stuck plenty of times, but always had a way to get out. No way would I do this now.

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    Default

    my only experience is being stuck myself. 20 mile near the mouth. the ground was "wobbly", when you would walk it would send ripples out 5-8 ft from you. i started sinking and in 1 minute i was stuck up to my groin. i was in waders with seperate boots. i was about 1-2 minutes from ditching the waders. i had a friend near me in a zodiac. it was one of the most exhausting and tiring experiences getting out. as well as scary. luckily it was an outgoing tide, so i had some time.

    keep moving on it. the more you fight getting out, the quicker you sink.

    i have chota wading boots with a bungy drawstring. i don't know about the separate boot advice. if i had to ditch my waders, i would've snaked my hand down my leg to my boot and uncinched the bungy. if they were tied with a double knot like many folks tie off their wading boots, i would never been able to get my boots off. in a one piece wader/boot, you would have an easier time sliding out of them. once unstuck, sprawl out on your back and "swim" to where you need to go. the point is to increase your surface area on the silt, thus dispersing your weight.

    it sucked getting stuck and was a big eye opener.

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    Default

    i don't know about the separate boot advice. hre814


    The reason I suggested the seperate boots is because, from my experiance its near imposable to walk through the stuff without the one piece wanting to come off. If you are really stuck you will slip off the seperate boot.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Anchorage Fire Dept?

    "Does anyone have experiences, training or expertise in silt or silt rescue?"

    You might try the Anchorage Fire Department. They are called on to extract trapped fishermen (and others) on Ship Creek (and elsewhere no doubt), seem to have a high success rate and make front page photo-ops here every few years.

    AFD Training Center
    1140 Airport Heights
    (907) 267-5002


    Larry Kaniut's book, Danger Stalks the Land, includes 2 or 3 stories involving people stuck in silt as I recall. In one story ("My Haunting Nightmare") a duck hunter is able to extricate himself after using his PFD-vest and shotgun as a platform to get the weight off his feet. The other story I recall for sure is a duck hunting soldier on Knik River mud flats, but that one ends sadly.

    Good luck with your project.

    BTW - looks like a shark at your feet in your avatar photo?

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    Default

    yeah, just like that guy used a pfd, i used a couple of square flotation devices, the ones that act as seat cushions. i got one leg out and put a knee on it and worked on the other leg after that. it really helped distribute my weight.

    i understand the idea that with a separate boot, you could "slip" out of it, but most folks can't just slip out of a well tied wading boot. with my boots (the chotas with the bungee drawstring), my feet felt like they wanted to come off my ankles when i was pulling my legs out. it was near painful, and very exhausting. with my past tied-on wading boots, my feet would never have just 'slipped' out. i was going to undo the bungee cord (if i could) and slip out of my waders and swim the mud into the water. very cold, but i had a unstuck friend with me and i would rather be mildly hypothermic then race the tide-clock. with waders with connected boots, i would slip out of the waders and leave them there.

    the FD used a technique i think of using a hose to push, i think, water under the subject (maybe its air?). i bet the AFD station at Rabbit Creek is trained up on that, i would give them a call for suggestions
    Last edited by hre814; 02-25-2009 at 01:19. Reason: more info

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    Default

    I've seen a training video that showed a member of a search and rescue team performing a self rescue with a wood pole about 1" X 6'. I think the video was shot near Las Vegas of all places. Apparently they get a lot of quick mud in the river bottoms after a flash flood or just the monsoon rains. I wasn't able to find the video but did come across the Anchorage SOG's.
    http://firehouse.com/mz/images/2007/05/05standdown/mudrescue_anchorage.pdf

    I 'll keep looking for the video....

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    Default

    I wonder how small snow shoes would work for this?
    They work EXCELLENT. I really don't want to encourage their use, but if you have to use something to get across mud/silt they work great. I actually used a pair of my 30" Sherpas to carry stuff from a boat across the mud and I could carry 70# of stuff with me on my back with those shoes and hardly sink in at all.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Default

    A good friend of mine is on the Girdwood Fire Department and at one time was the training officer. They do regular rescues out on the flats and I was able to partake in one of the training videos that was being shown.

    They wear all the appropriate safety gear, pfds, helmets, etc... before laying out back boards or ladders to get to the victim. Upon arriving, they use a nozzle similar to the attic nozzle to pierce into the mud next to the person and then apply high pressure / velocity water to free them. Sometimes they utilize portable pumps to get water straight from a local water source on the flats, otherwise, they'll haul out a 1-1/2" line from shore. All personnel have ropes attached to them from dry land and can be pulled to safety as required. Ropes are also attached between pieces equipment so it can be retrieved as necessary.

    Main way to stay safe is to spread out your weight as much as possible as you transverse across the silts.

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    Thumbs up Anchorage SOGs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ak Fireman View Post
    I've seen a training video that showed a member of a search and rescue team performing a self rescue with a wood pole about 1" X 6'. I think the video was shot near Las Vegas of all places. Apparently they get a lot of quick mud in the river bottoms after a flash flood or just the monsoon rains. I wasn't able to find the video but did come across the Anchorage SOG's.
    http://firehouse.com/mz/images/2007/05/05standdown/mudrescue_anchorage.pdf

    I 'll keep looking for the video....
    That pdf file is an excellent brief of the key factors.

    Weight distribution is key... and having a PFD on me could make all the difference.

    Getting help early too...
    Rising tide makes things urgent --- and "dive team" sounds like the help I'd want if it was me stuck.

    Wood pole/staff (1" x 6') is used maybe to "break the suction"?

    Thanks a lot for posting this.

    Important thread.

  12. #12

    Default

    Thanks - Great info guys.

    Would also be interested in gathering any personal stories about silt, PM me if you have them.

    Also interested in any local knowledge about mud conditions in Turnagain arm -

    I read a newspaper article in the ADN archives about a guy, Brian Stoeker, who walked across the arm from Bird Creek to Sunrise in 1992.

    Somebody also told me you could walk to fire island - that I don't believe; I would think mud conditions further out in the inlet would be worse as the mud would have less time to dry.

    There was a guy I read about in Larry Kanuits book who wrecked an airplane on the flats and walked in at about Potter Marsh....

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    Default

    When I was a kid my grandfather had a set net fishing site in Trading Bay (Little West of Tyonek), and we would often walk out a half mile or more. At least it seemed that long from a kid's perspective. I do remember running as fast as I could to stay ahead of the incoming tide. All the gooey stuff was right near the beach in that area, and that's where we always got stuck. After you got out a hundred yards or so, the silt flats were actually quite hard & the walking easy. I know it's not that way everywhere in Cook Inlet, but that was my experience 45 years ago at Trading Bay.

    I do know that most of the exposed Inlet floor is actually hard and safe to walk on. At least safe in the sense that you are not going to get stuck if you keep moving, and have a way to get around the unsafe areas.

    I've looked at the "walk" to Fire Island at very low tide, and I think there is still too much water out close to the island. But the silt & channels change with time, and perhaps this was all shallower once. I also have heard of people walking to the island, but I doubt it could be done these days. But then perhaps the remaining water channel is shallower than it looks too.

    An interesting factoid is that Capt Cook made little mention of the silt in Cook Inlet, and that was after sailing into both Knik & Turnagain Arms. It's such a dominant condition these days, it's hard to imagine that he didn't talk more about it. Some researchers have suggested that this may indicate that the silt flats have only filled in in the last couple hundred years. Perhaps in another couple hundred Fire Island will not be an island at all.

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    i have heard about some young kids (teenagers) walking to fire island.

    the walk from bird to sunrise?!!!!? that is just plain brave and stupid in one swoop. darwin's theory failed us on that one if he made it to sunrise.

  15. #15

    Default Ship Creek

    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    That pdf file is an excellent brief of the key factors.

    Weight distribution is key... and having a PFD on me could make all the difference.

    Getting help early too...
    Rising tide makes things urgent --- and "dive team" sounds like the help I'd want if it was me stuck.

    Wood pole/staff (1" x 6') is used maybe to "break the suction"?

    Thanks a lot for posting this.

    Important thread.
    I believe in 1995 a woman got stuck near Ship Creek in the silt with not so good of an outcome. The dive team and fircrews tried to rescue to no avail. The incomeing tide covered her and the divers but hypothermia took its toll. Since then rescue tactics have changed I'm sure but the silt and water haven't; they're still dangerous.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  16. #16

    Default mudlore

    I read in Larry Kanuit's book that locals in the Knik area report they have shot ducks and seen them hit the mud and disappear beneath it flapping. Can anyone confirm seeing that happen.

    Also, I have been trying to figure out the exact mechanism of silt - as I understand it, it starts to soften again as the tide comes in, then hardens once water hits it. Anyone know how this whole thing works?

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    Default

    "as I understand it, it starts to soften again as the tide comes in, then hardens once water hits it."

    Not been my experience. The tide's only out for a few hours. Not enough time for the silt to drain or dry out. I don't doubt there is some effect tied to the water level, but it's not that significant. But there are different types of silt, so perhaps others have experienced something different.

    One thing that softens it is jiggling it. Even fairly stiff silt can become soft enough to trap you if you keep walking over it. Earthquake Park in Anchorage is supposedly a large scale example of this. As the Good Friday 1964 quake kept shaking for several minutes, the silt layer softened up until it became slippery enough to give way. Dozens of houses slipped hundreds of feet northwest and down once it broke free. It was quite a sight. Anyway, the same thing happens if you just start tapping your foot while standing on the bank. Bottom line is, turn off the music when fishing from silt.

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    Default

    i think water levels have a very large influence on the mud based on my experience. the difference from where i was stuck and the mud just below the water level was night and day. i felt safe once in the water, but not on the banks just two feet over.

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