The city has blocked off the meadow portion of the Kaxdegoowu Heen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge) Trail after a broken oxbow has caused erosion along the Mendenhall River. The river cut through the meander bend just north of the Brotherhood Bridge last this summer. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The city has blocked off the meadow portion of the Kaxdegoowu Heen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge) Trail after a broken oxbow has caused erosion along the Mendenhall River. The river cut through the meander bend just north of the Brotherhood Bridge last this summer. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A man and his dogs are safe after a scare on the Mendenhall River

Changes in river’s path lead to dog walker getting stranded

The Mendenhall River is always changing, and for one man and his dogs, it nearly led to disaster Saturday.

A man was walking with his dogs Saturday afternoon when the tide came in and trapped him and the dogs on an island, Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Chad Cameron said. The man didn’t realize how much the river has changed in the past year or so, Cameron said.

They were across the water from Postal Way, Cameron said. CCFR got the man’s call for help at 2:02 p.m., and at about 2:15 p.m., a CCFR rescue boat reached the man and his dogs. They were all taken out safely and without incident, Cameron said.

The riverbanks are always changing as a result of erosion and deposition, but glacial flooding called the jökulhlaup has expedited that process. Just last summer, the river’s path changed dramatically when a shortcut through a river bend broke through.

Cameron urged people to do some research to know what they’re getting into before they go out walking.

“I would just advise people the river has changed quite a bit over the past year,” Cameron said via text message Saturday. “There is water in areas that there never used to be. Additionally, the tide will change the water levels. Be cognizant when walking over low areas that you see where water has been. Check the tide charts before recreating in areas that are affected by the tides.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Sonia Nagorski, assistant professor of Geology Arts and Sciences at the University of Alaska Southeast, investigates the broken oxbow along the Mendenhall River on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. The river cut through the meander bend just north of the Brotherhood Bridge last this summer. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Sonia Nagorski, assistant professor of Geology Arts and Sciences at the University of Alaska Southeast, investigates the broken oxbow along the Mendenhall River on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. The river cut through the meander bend just north of the Brotherhood Bridge last this summer. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

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