Ever Been on an Alaskan Vacation Where Your AirBnB Later Got Washed Away Down 'Suicide Basin'? I Have.

I might have mentioned this before - and I certainly remember writing about this back in the old paper edition of Barstool - but one of my older brothers lives in Juneau, AK. He has ever since he got married back some time in the Iron Age. And the major upshot of the piece I wrote in the print edition was how, no matter how tough you might think you are, if you're from back East, they don't consider you Alaska Tough. (And I say this as someone who still won't shut up about how a bug flew in my mouth on a dock in Ireland last month.) I mean, they're nice about it. But no matter what, you seem to them like the city guy in every western, wearing suit and tie and a bowler hat and saying "This train is the property of EH Harriman!!!" or whatever. I specifically remember mentioning how we met this couple who live in a cabin and live off the land. The husband did have a charter fishing service, and took us out on his boat at 6 a.m. to haul in his lines. And I realized I'd never felt less masculine. How utterly useless and in the way I was, with no applicable skills that could be of any help to him. And saying how I might as well have been wearing a feather boa and yelling, "HELLLOOO, sailor!!!" or something. I got a nice response from that one.

Anyway, I mention this because the last time I was up there was July 2016, for my niece's wedding. Along with my two Massachusetts brothers and our sister, spouses, including my own extremely feminine but hearty Irish Rose, and our younger son. Above is the AirBnB we spent the week in. A beautiful place. With a nice wooded back yard that led out to a river coming from the nearby Mendenhall Glacier. And this just happened to be during conditions of unusually high runoff known as:

Jökulhlaup (Wikipedia) - (literally "glacial outburst flood") is a type of glacial outburst flood. It is an Icelandic term that has been adopted in glaciological terminology in many languages. It originally referred to the well-known subglacial outburst floods from Vatnajökull, Iceland, which are triggered by geothermal heating and occasionally by a volcanic subglacial eruption, but it is now used to describe any large and abrupt release of water from a subglacial or proglacial lake/reservoir.

I specifically remember people kayaking on flooded streets not far from us. But our rental wasn't affected. This was me, getting my Jökulhlaup on with an Alaskan Brewing Co. Amber Ale (highly recommended, but only available in certain parts of the western US):

That was taken about 40 yards or so from the house. Which after this past weekend, would've put me directly in the path of wet, freezing death. Because here was that same house:

Daily Mail - A mansion collapsed into a river in Alaska and was swept away after millions of gallons of water were released from a glacier-dammed lake.

The immaculate white home was pulled into the roaring waters of the Mendenhall River, in Juneau, during devastating flooding on Saturday.

The land around the building had rapidly eroded over a period of around six hours before it could no longer hold. …

At least two buildings were destroyed and residents of other at-risk properties were evacuated during the incident.

The Mendenhall River flooded on Saturday because of a major release from Suicide Basin above Alaska's capital city. …

Such glacial outburst floods happen when glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes. …

However, the maximum water level in the lake on Saturday night exceeded the previous record flood stage set in July 2016, the weather service reported.

I suppose it wouldn't be in the best taste to mention that, if I'd known we were all pitching in for a vacation house in a place called Suicide Basin, I'd have asked for my deposit back. After all, someone is out an extremely beautiful and valuable piece of investment property. And much worse, others just saw everything they own wash down a ravine and into a lake. And needless to say, that area has been completely terraformed, never to return to the same state again. 

I wish I had something profound to add. Other than to offer this up as a reminder that Nature is a fickle mistress. Indifferent to the sufferings of us little animals who try to scratch out an existence on the landmasses of the Earth. It might be a delicate little orb spinning through infinite space, but it will crush us like bugs if we're not careful. And even if we are as careful as possible, in the end:


Giphy Images.

As someone who has been blessed three times in his life to stand in awe before the majesty that is Alaska, my heart goes out to the intrepid souls who make it their home. I respected you the minute I set foot on America's last frontier, and I do so even more after seeing this small glimpse of what you enure. Godspeed to the residents of Suicide Basin. If any one can, it's you folks.