Saturday, March 15, 2014

Iditarod 2014...3 teams left out on the trail

 another team scratched today...iditarod for threw in the towel.  i think he was in last place.  if you are lagging to far behind they will sometimes encourage you to drop.  as long as you can keep up with that last pack you are ok.  can't recall what the reason was for him stopping other than that really.  so that makes a total of 20 scratches, many seasoned mushers.
 this years trail was just challenging from start to finish for different reasons. no snow, too much snow.  loads of ice, harrowing winds. it can all happen on the iditarod trail
 haven't yet read Hugh Neff's account of his trek across Golovin Bay.  many mushers spoke of this dangerous and terrifying section across  shear ice with winds blowing teams out towards the sea.  at some point he hit his button for help and help was long in coming.
 i read that Neff's girlfriend made a scathing account about how long it took to get him help...i remember thinking at the time it was strange for her to be fighting his battles.  if he was upset with how things went down then this was his battle to fight.
 i believe at this point he has made some complaints.  this prompted Sebastian Schunuelle to respond in the iditarod page, he's done the Iditarod many times and has been a reporter on the trail now for a few years.  clearly he's not a big fan of Neff.  that in and of itself means something that he and a few other mushers have spoken out against him.
 he felt that Neff made choices and in the end the choices were bad and he had to live with those consequences.  he mentioned that not too long past Neff made a bad choice in the Quest and a dog died.
 it can be difficult to judge decisions made out there on the trail some times.  i'm in no place to judge really.  they are also tired and worn down and that can play a role in making poor decisions.
 this is the first year of the teams having "the button" to call for help.  they've never had that before and quite frankly, this was never that kind of race.  one where help is readily available.  does having a help button aid in folks making poor decisions, it may.  you hate to take away a chance to try and get folks help when they need it, but the truth is not having help readily available is one of the big challenges to the Iditarod.  it plays into how it is run for sure i'd say.
 the fact is that in Alaska you can be close to where help may be available but still not be able to get help.  our weather is a huge factor.  just because you need help in no way guarantees you will get help.  Alaska is wild, remote and unforgiving.  you can't just dial 9-1-1 and expect the brigade to come and save you, it isn't that simple.
 Neff had to wait 10 hours after pushing his help button.  eventually it sounds like he made his way to a check point.  that is how it was last year and all the other years before.  this year several mushers opted to hit the button.  should they have this option for teams next year?  does having this assumed safety net make mushers make foolhardy decisions for their teams because having some button to press somehow makes them feel like they can take extra and perhaps poor decisions?
 the good folks of Alaska and the Iditarod will eventually come to your aid.  it may not be soon enough, but that is the reality we all live with here.  i've been in those remote places and i've been left in those remote places for days due to poor weather.  you need to be prepared for all possibilities, keep your head and wits about you and wait.  i certainly would not want to risk others lives do to my foolish choices.
 Jeff King spoke on a video on the Iditarod site. he felt like he was "the rock around their neck" speaking of his team.  he said they were doing fine really with the wind, but the sled and him were being tossed about and they had to try and deal with how that was impacing them.
 it became dangerous for his team.  2 dogs especially made him nervous.  he put them in his sleeping bag, snuggled up with them.  the whole team bundled up, he used his body to try and protect his team against the wind.  he was getting cold though and it was just a matter of time.
 some snowmachines came by, he was close to Safety and asked if they could get him there.  they did....they were also in a life and death situation on their journey..the weather had changed that fast and that dramatically.
 he said they got to Safety about the same time as Aily got there. he was still debating if he'd done the right thing if the trail had actually been "navigatable" (his word, a new one at that i think. :-) ) anyway...seeing she had made it made him think perhaps he could have navigated the storm, she assured him it wasn't a trail to be navigated but one to survive and she felt pretty lucky to have found her way to Safety in that.
 a race marshall was there and he's a friend of Kings.  they spoke and in the end he understood his race was over and it was now just the time to go rescue his dogs. along with the Iditarod insider crew, that is exactly what he did.
 this trail was probably the hardest and toughest any of these teams have ever seen or will ever see as dog mushers and they should all be commended for their efforts despite all the challenges.  King is to be commended for giving up on a win for himself in order to do the right thing by his team of dogs.
 these are the things that races like this do bring out and remind us.  the elements will always be there, this earth is more powerful than we can ever hope to be.  a race like this helps us to see how powerful we can be,what is possible, but it also serves as a reminder of our limits.  in facing those most dire moments of life when you realize that death is a possibility, you find your true inner strength, you discover what sort of character you are and you rise or fall to the occasion.  having a help button can take that out of this race.
 so 3 more teams out there, they should all be in by morning. lots of snow and some wind now for those teams.  for the rookies that made it through, know you can do anything now.
 Buser is also a favorite like King.  he cares about his team and he saw that storm approaching, knows this trail and holed up in a remote, empty cabin..."old womens cabin" that is out there.
 there will be many amazing stories that come out of this particular Iditarod.  there already have been
 back in Anchorage the snow fell and fell and fell last night. over a foot.  so today i've been shoveling snow while throwing blossoms frisbee.  she was thrilled! everything looks so beautiful!! too bad i have another night of work and couldn't play more out there.
 after shoveling all that snow i stopped at grocery for some stuff and bought myself a dozen pretty pink roses!!  i deserved em!!
 work so far has been pretty sweet.  have been in CCU for the last two nights. thankfully, as i was able to catch up on some required education and got my on line ACLS course done!!
 last night i worked with a nice crew.  strange though as they all speak tagolog and much of the night they chatted away in their primary language.
 this big jet is still missing.  more and more it looks like a good possibility is that it was taken and possibly even landed someplace.  for what purpose is not clear yet.  suspicious for a future use as a dirty bomb.  they have been unable to locate it or the over 200 folks on board.  they seem to be able to ascertain that the plane went very high in elevation followed by a fairly rapid decent into a much lower elevations.  suspicions again with this is that the passengers would have become hypoxic and died.  very unnerving to have this huge jet missing a week later with really no clue as to where to look.
 had heard too there were even some alien theories out there...there are always alien theories.  i think i prefer that over the reality of what has probably happened if these suspicions turn out to be correct.

 so not many more dogs posts left.
 hope you have enjoyed all the dog pictures as much as i enjoyed taking them all.
 my dogs are happy with our new snow.  i've got one more night.  my calendar is filling in with to do things.
 hate spending time on's part of life though.  bummer
 everyone had a fun day out at Willow for the restart.  not sure how many of them follow it like i do, but this year it was tough not to.

 so far, the dogs have been safe.  hoping it stays that way.
 one of the husky teams.  watched on come in the other day.  they really are amazingly beautiful animals

 i better get cracking.  happy one of my appointments is for my hair and another is for a massage...those are good things to look forward to.
 i'll for sure need the massage after all that snow i shoveled today.  i may be paying for that really soon
 loved this guys face
off to nap....

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