Wednesday, March 6, 2013

iditarod 2013, the race continues

 i'm in between shifts, but figured i'd add some pictures from sunday's restart along with some updates on the great race to nome.  i focused on dog shots this run...mostly out of laziness and i do enjoy the dog shots.  i'm sure next year i'll find a way to change it up a bit for my own entertainment.  perhaps do a greater percentage of b&w since i love it so much.  this time i mostly did b&w for the human shots.
 another, not so great picture that i cropped down to just feet.  just watched a cool video on the iditarod insider.  mostly the video's are of teams coming in/out of checkpoints.  sometimes a short interview and occasionally they do a montage like the one i watched today. just music and dogs running.  i think last year they had one from the steps, a rough and tumble rollar coaster.  i think that section alone would do me in if i were to run it. i'm not that into rollar coasters.  something about flying down a winding trail hanging onto a sled for dear life doesn't really appeal to me.
 they've also had some of northern lights or sunsets.  i try to pop over to the insider and catch up on the latest stats and video clips.  many of these rural checkpoints don't get much action most of the year.  funny to watch kids allowed so stay awake all night it seems to catch the action.  above is sandra..she was our mc for the day out there. the anchorage daily news always has the list of the order of the teams coming at you with a quick bio of the musher.
 this should be kelly griffin according to my adn page, which is taped to my office door for reference.  she's one of those real alaskan types.  built her own house and kennel, survived the earthquake and tsunami of '64.
 buser and his kennel mate, matt failor did indeed make a run for rohn.  it is all the talk of the race commentators.  this strategy has never been tried though it appears now that buser has been pondering it for months.  his thought was to run the dogs fast as far as possible, in this case to rohn, then take a 24 hour rest in hopes the dogs would come off it ready for another fast run to get way out ahead of the pack.  we will see how this turns out for him.  they are all required to take a 24 hour rest and the standings are hard to follow until after all have completed this.  for now it last appeared that martin was in 50th place.  with his run, he was actually almost 9 hours ahead of everyone.  that was a 180 mile run in 20 hours.  they do stop and snack/feed dogs from time to time.  but that is a lot of running.
 tiffany's beau above.  liked the shot of aaron in black and white.
 most teams will do their 24 hour rest in takotna or ophir.
 this year the race follows the southern route. they run the southern route on odd years.  its a big event for those small villages so switching spreads the wealth and the bother i'm sure.
 #10 is peter kaiser out of bethel.  his dogs are probably used to colder temperatures,they will be happier once the trail gets closer to the coast i'd guess.
 checkpoints...from willow you head to yentna, then off to skwentna.  i can't say i can pronouce all the names perfectly.  skwentna is at the junction of two rivers, the skwentna and the yentna.  many teams camp out here that first night. not buser of course.  that sort of strategy gets passed along by word of mouth and has to make all the other teams think about their plans.
 11 and 12 are paul gebhardt and jason mackey, i think he's a half brother of lance?
 next the trail hits finger lake, after this is the scary ride that i mentioned i wanted to avoid heading down into happy river gorge.  these lakes and rivers are frozen, for the most part, for those from warmer climates.
 more bouncing as the trail goes up to rainy pass.  this is highest point at 3,771 feet.  it's a popular place for people to fly in to from what i've gathered. must be some decent accomadations there, by alaskan standards anyway.  when you make plans in these smaller area's you have to ask questions like, is there a bathroom, is it shared.
 sadly, there was a fatal plane crash yesterday.  some folks headed to tokotna to volunteer for the race.  all perished on board, including a 10 year old.
 then to rohn.  this was an original iditarod trail roadhouse.  teams didn't just use the iditarod trail for the serum run, it was a regular dog sled route to deliver mail and such.  the original building was replaced by a cabin in the '30's.  martin buser named his sons after this check point and the next one nikolai.  nikolai is a small village of 100 people.  the road between rohn and nikolai is known as the farewell burn and can be a rough and bumpy ride. often the wind has blown the snow cover and it can be hell on the sled for sure, not to mention the dogs and musher.
 other alaskan news of interest to me anyway.  a guy survived an unplanned run down an avalanche the other day in haines.  he had one of those inflatable packs and a helmet. he's bought the pack with money he'd received after his grandmother died, thanks grandma for sure!!  those packs cost over $1000.  another guy perished this past week when a clump of snow they were heliskiing from gave way.  it's a risky game out there sometimes, especially this time of year.
the iditarod is getting some snow presently from what i was reading.
 apparently, they take a great deal of care getting the trail ready for the race, once it starts though they have a trail crew that tries to stay 50+ miles ahead of the leader.  the rest of the teams have to battle nature and the damage done to the trails by passing teams or random snowmachiners that decide to use it.
 from nikolai the teams head to mcgrath.  for iditarod villages it's fairly good sized, with a population of almost 350 folks. takotna is a stopping place for mushers like i said, i guess it's known for fresh pies.   seems i read the woman who was responsible for all that pie making may have passed away this year?   hmm
 oh, got the story on the dog i took the photo of sitting in the camp chair.  i believe that is a dog named, "ugly", owned by nicolas petit of girdwood.  ugly is 13 and just a pet.  he weighs over 70 pounds, much larger than the regular sled dogs.  petit got him soon after he arrived to alaska from france for a bag of iams dog food.  ugly goes everywhere with him...well not on the races. but we all have those dogs in our lives...ugly sounds like he's one of those.  he sure entertained everyone at the ceremonial start and i saw pictures of him back in the same spot in his chair the next day.
 above were probaby john bakers dogs.  no pictures of him.  okay...i'll have to be better next year haha!!  maybe i'll just get there super early and take pictures of mushers in the preparation area.  14 is a rookie from fairbanks.
 i actually slept pretty good between shifts.  i was in pcu last night oriented.  confused several of them who had just met me as a peat nurse the week before.  looks like it was  busy day for maureen in peat last night.  i had a lovely night on pcu.  i was just figuring out where stuff was and making sure i could get into all the machines and rooms and such.  each unit has various codes to different rooms/machines.  it was back to my regular routine though so more comfortable.
 after takotna comes ophir, which is a ghost town.  the town fills up during the iditarod though.  next is another ghost town...iditarod itself.  was a mining town at one point and is the halfway point on the southern route.  first musher here gets $3000 in gold.  i'm gonna guess that will be buser if his plan works out.  the others will be doing their mandatory  24 hour rest and he should fly right past them at that point...that is his plan anyway.
 a few B&W from the day.  below is katie and below that is elizabeth.  it was a first time to the restart for both of them. i don't think it will be their last though.

 15 is another rookie, bejna, from the lower 48.  he's the one i took that cool photo of with his iditarider.  i have my favorite pics of the week too.
 shageluk is the next checkpoint. then anvik, the first checkpoint on the great yulon river.  they will run on the river for the next 148 miles.
 they stop at a few villages along the way.  grayling, population 194 and finally kaltag, avillage of 230 where they leave the yukon river behind them.  there is another checkpoint before kaltag.  it's just a cabin, the cabin of a fellow ralph conaster...the checkpoint is called, eagle island.  gets windy along the river...hell from what i've heard it can get pretty windy along the coast as well.
 these are the other dogs from nicholas petit.  a happy group.
 next village check point is the first on the coast and the largest population wise along the route.  unalakleet.  i think this one is being made more famous by the tv show about the planes.  i've watched it a few times.
 the sleds can be adapted, this one looks comfortable for sitting. some are, some less so.  different mushers have different styles.
 the section through shaktoolik is known for powerful winds.  i think parts of this are on sea ice?  not sure.  after you hit koyuk you are back on a land route headed for nome, just 171 miles to go.
 then there is just elim and golovin before the mandatory 8 hour rest in white mountain.  the mushers must also plan for a second 8 hour mandatory rest somewhere along the route.  their choice as to where.
 white mountain is just 77 miles from nome.  the game is usually limited to 1-5 competitors by this time.  often the winner is already pretty clear.  many miles to go before that, but we are already on day 4 and the first mushers come in to nome at 8-10 days.
 the mushing mortician scratched super early, not sure why.
 i'll finish today off with jeff king.  this is his 22 run of the race, he's won it 4 times.  retired and returned only to scratch last year when his team stalled. the dogs still have ultimate control.  if they decide they are done running..they are done running.
 pogi is chasing rio's tail...always cracks me up!
 king looked pretty much clean shaven for the race here.  that will change.  don't think anyone will be shaving along the route. not much opportunity for anything but a sponge bath.  should all be pretty ripe by nome. been there, done that.  the longest i've gone is 5, maybe 7 days without a shower. it's not pretty.
 king passes one of the ski planes on  long lake.
 snowshoes are required for the sleds, as is an axe.  the required list isn't really as long as one would think.
 guess i better hop in the shower and see if i can take my pups for at least a short walk.  i know blossom would appreciate it.
til next update...always a little prayer for the safe travels of all these amazing dogs.  (and the mushers too)


  1. Thanks for the posts! I'm from Illinois and for the last few years I have come to your blog for information and great photos of the Iditarod. Please keep them coming!

  2. hello illinois...welcome!! lots more pictures and trail to go. thanks for stopping by and also for commenting. seems all i've gotten of late is spam so it's awesome to know real people are out there and enjoying the blog. :-)