The Great Alaskan Dinosaur Adventure
Sunday, July 17th

Trapped in quicksand

Boot stock photo.

Dan tried to get loose, but when he pulled one foot out, it came out with only a sock on his foot. Mike tried to get close to and rescue him, but he became briefly stuck as well. Mike struggled, and was able to back away. He wasn’t in as deep as Dan. He tried throwing Dan a couple of short paddles so he could try to walk on them like snowshoes. It didn’t work. [The quicksand was a muddy mixture of sand. I had always envisioned quicksand as just “wet” sand, but it was not like this at all. I’m not sure why Dan stopped sinking, but it may have been because the layer of quicksand was on top of a gravel bar. The mud may have been deposited by the high, but slowing moving water in the days before.] Mike suggested that Dan lay down and roll out, but he didn’t want to. I didn’t blame him.

Oars stock photo.

We didn’t know what to do. It was at least fifty feet to solid ground from where he was standing. I had no idea how he was able to get in so far. We couldn’t send anybody in after him because then we’d have two people stuck. The wind was blowing and it was getting colder. Dan was exhausted, wet, and hungry. He was beginning to get hypothermic.

The river also continued to drop, which complicated matters. We had even more trouble maneuvering the rafts along the edge of the shallow muddy river. We decided the only way to get him out was to empty one of the rafts and slide it on top of the mud to him. The water was only about three inches deep, so we couldn’t paddle. It took Buddy and I about fifteen minutes to get to him, because we kept getting stuck as well, but it worked.

Every time one of us got stuck, we flopped back into the raft. Finally we shoved the raft up against the back of Dan’s legs and he was able to flop into the boat by himself. I reached down into the mud and pulled his boot out. It took another fifteen minutes or so to get back out of the mud into deeper water. We all were cold, but we were especially worried about Dan. He had been standing relatively still absorbing the full force of the foggy damp wind for over an hour.

Dan thanks God for his protection while trapped in quicksand.
Dan thanks God for his protection while trapped in quicksand

After getting ourselves and our boats out of the mire, we had to pull them about a mile back upstream to a good campsite. Dan walked and helped pull. I think this helped him warm up a little bit, or at least kept him from going deeper into hypothermia. We found a place about two hundred yards from the river in the middle of the bar. We carried some gear to the site and made a group effort to get Dan bedded down. Mike and I put up his tent. Buddy brought his gear to the site. Meanwhile, George made some hot food and drink. Mike put Dan into a space blanket and sleeping bag as soon as possible. When someone is hypothermic, it is critical to get them warm. The food and hot drink helped him considerably. Mike and I continued putting up tents. Buddy carried gear to the campsite and George continued to cook for all of us. We were all shivering and close to the point of hypothermia. It was good to get into our warm sleeping bag with a hot meal in our stomach at 10:30. At least the wind had been blowing hard enough that evening that we didn’t have to put up with the mosquitoes.

I know without a doubt, that the Lord was on our side today. I think He allows us to get into impossible situations so he can provide and take us out of them. He surely deserves all the glory. If I have learned anything today, I have learned we can depend on the Lord no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem. I know people have been praying for us, probably even in the Sunday night services just before our hour of need. Thanks Lord. You are a great God!

NEXT: At Long Last

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