SITKA, Alaska — A couple escaped a landslide by running down a narrow, pebble beach away from the shifting mountain.
The slide happened Sunday just as Kevin Knox, 41, and his girlfriend, Maggie Gallin, 28, returned from fishing in a rowboat to the National Forest Service cabin at Redoubt Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Sitka, KCAW reported.
“We had just tied the boat up and Maggie was in the cabin, and it just let loose — a huge piece off of the side of the mountain. I yelled for Maggie to run, to get out of the cabin. We started running down the beach,” he said.
He said they were thrown into the water, “trees kind of toppling on top of us. We both popped up about 3 or 4 feet from each other,” Knox said. “Then we got our wits about us and just tried to hunker down.”
They estimated the slide started about 600 feet up the mountainside and was about 200 yards side.
The cabin, and all the couple’s belongings, were under about 20 feet of debris, Knox said. They tried to dry the clothes they were wearing and waited three hours until their scheduled pickup by an air taxi.
Tongass National Forest spokeswoman Roseann Fillmore told The Associated Press the agency has dispatched employees to assess the landslide in the old-growth forest area, which means the trees were very large.
Knox told KCAW they noticed instability in the mountain Saturday night.
“There’d been a lot of rock activity from this slide that was off back behind the cabin, all night on Saturday night. I was just kind of watching some of it. It was just small rocks kind of tumbling off and making a lot of racket,” he said.
The cabin is surrounded by mountain slopes and rocky cliffs that go up about 4,000 feet above the lake.
Knox’s 10-year-old border collie, Luna, remains missing.
“She was in between Maggie and I as we were running down the beach. I think she thought it was a little bit of a game because I was shouting, ‘Run! Go! Go!’ and she jumped up and nipped at my sleeve,” Knox said. “So I know she was right there. I kept laying in bed last night thinking, How did we get through it, and she didn’t?”
The couple went back to the lake Monday morning, but they couldn’t find Luna. The pilot didn’t land because of the instability of the slide area.