An Alaska State Trooper rescued two men Wednesday from an island in Portage Lake after the men swam through about 75 yards of frigid water, with one of them nearly drowning in the process, troopers said.
Portage Glacier terminates at the lake, and large blue chunks of ice can often be seen floating.
The call for help came in about 2:20 p.m. from another man, who said the two others were stuck on the island and unable to return to shore, according to a trooper dispatch posted online Saturday. A trooper and a tour company employee rode in a skiff to the island and picked up the two stranded men: 21-year-old Anchorage resident Jin Tae Chong and 28-year-old Levi Matheson Taylor, from Utah.
The trooper soon learned that Chong was hiking in the area when he tried swimming to the island. He started struggling and almost drowned about halfway there, troopers said. Taylor was hiking with a separate group and did not know Chong, but he jumped in the water, swam to Chong and pulled him to the island, troopers said.
"Both men reported they were very cold but declined medical attention," the trooper dispatch says.
Chong and Taylor returned to their respective hiking parties after the rescue, troopers said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.