Monday, March 10, 2014

wild iditarod ride continues

 the lead teams are actually fast approaching nome.  record pace for most.  that first part of the run was hell for man and sled but the dogs seemed to love it.  they were quite literally unstoppable.  the mushers that could hang on survived it and the sleds that could hold together did as well.  there are 15 or 16 out though so that first part of the trail took it's toll for sure.
 at this point you can turn on the gps tracker on the iditarod site and the leaders of Aily Zirkle and Jeff King are within a few miles of each other, often on the same mile.  there is a small gap and then another group is not far behind. these are all well known and good mushers.  Ulsom from Norway is holding on in the top 10.  they had spoken of him in last years race and his talent.  he has passed his countryman Sorlie.
 we saw the eagles as we drove into willow and here we are about to turn onto the road to get to the second lake where we hang out and there is Denali in all her glory.
 we'd gotten there at a perfect time which allowed us the time to hit the first lake and watch the teams getting ready for the trek.  it's totally different than the morning before as they have to pack for a long journey.
 they have required items that must be taken like an axe, big knife, snowshoes, cooker stove, food for dogs and such, but they also have to pack for themselves and any number of weather situations. lots of booties and coats for the dogs.
 there are various sleds, which are getting more and more technical.  this here is pretty basic.  the hook in the foreground is just that a hook.  it holds the team in an anchor.
 kinda cool to see all the variety that is out there.
 the dogs wait and watch.

 you can wander around the outside of where all the dog trucks are parked.  the teams were still driving in when we were wandering around.
 it usually takes about 9 days for the first teams to get to Nome, Aily and Jeff have both left Koyuk already.  that means only 171 miles left to Nome.  that is insane.  when i've looked their speeds are between 8-9 mph.
 a few years ago they required the teams to put on gps locators. it allows everyone to watch them in a way on the trail.  sometimes it says 0mph and they are just sitting on the side of the trail resting or feeding their dogs.  this year they added a panic button of sorts that can send a distress message.  they were apparently told that once they hit the button they are out of the race.  a few have hit it.  there have been a few broken bones already.  seemed to be a bit of mystery today surrounding Nicholas Petit stopping.  he was close to Unalakleet i believe.  the story was his dogs quit on him.
 dog teams will do that. you can do all the planning you want but if the team gets tired of running they may just stop and you won't get them to go again. it's why it's important to know your team and what they can and can't do.
 saw one report that implied he was overly tired and not able to think straight at all.  this is a race and sleep deprivation can be a real thing.  people can begin to hallucinate when they get too little sleep.  crazy stuff happens to a brain with lack of sleep to this degree.
 my friend used to be crew for a bike race across America.  she would tell me crazy stories.
 this sled has a back section and more and more they are adding a place to sit down every so often.  above is a pet dog jackson russell teams in the race, though a team of standard poodles did attempt a run to Nome several years back.  they didn't make it.
 the race is becoming more civilized with every year and faster.  in the early days the race would take up to 3 weeks to complete and seemed to have more of a party atmosphere to it.
 it is looking like it will be a crazy close finish this year though.  hope i'm not working for it.
 Jeff Kings plan was to run the dogs as long as he could before taking a 24 hour break. get them good and tired. it was a risk and they still may poop out on him.  time will tell, right now it's looking like he may have had a good plan.  he's said also that exhaustion is a problem for him as well and he hoped by waiting as long as possible to take a good rest he could be fresher for the last bit.
 there are some good teams chomping at the bit pretty close behind those two and it's not impossible at all for one or more of those teams to catch up though they looked further back when i last checked than they had been.
 at this point it's going to be up to the dogs and how well they can keep up the pace.
 my day today was a walk with the pups out north bivouac way and then i met up with speedy and family for the Aces hockey game.  the Aces lost in the end but it was a fun game.  i always love a hockey game.  it was tied up, went into overtime and then a shoot out.
 the weather remains beautiful!!
 i wasn't quite ready for the time change.  forgot about it until i woke up, well Blossom woke me up.  she takes some time to adapt to the time change.  very much a creature of habit.
 that plane has so far never been found, except for some possible oil streaks and a door?  had to have gone down in the ocean.  they have discovered that the passports of two of the passengers on board were previously stolen and reported stolen months ago.  so sad that if the passports had actually been checked well this could probably have been averted.  could two terrorists have so easily boarded a plane with stolen passports?  very sad and scary thought really.
 the harnesses get lined out
 Dallas preps his sled.  it's a pretty fancy sled.
 Jonrowe pulls in.
 think this is Baker getting his gear set up
 here is the official starting line sign.  the flags of all nations with a musher are flying.
 the only issue with hockey today was the noise. i had my cowbell like everyone else but it's kind of the only residual i've noticed from the concussion. i'm still a bit sensitive to loud, clangy noises.
 didn't get a headache or anything, it's just that i can feel it in my head more.
 that looks like Mitch Seavey's sled.  you get familiar with the various mushers sleds.
 a guy from Trapper Creek crashed his snowmachine and was injured and unable to move.  he apparently had a neck injury and dislocated limbs.  it was cold out and he was unable to go for help.  he credits his 2 year old golden retriever for saving his life.  she curled up on him to keep him warm and the next day ran to get help from a passing snowmachine.  other than that she never left his side.
 gotta crack that to do list's piling up.  prep for taxes, hair, eyes, trip to ketchikan this summer....
 the plastic runners.  this year you would have wanted to have several extra's on board as the trail in the early bit really did a number on these runners.  many were left running on metal only.  they can change sleds down the line and many had spare sleds waiting at certain checkpoints and just had to manage on their beat up sleds until then, others had sleds that were destroyed beyond amount of duct tape could hold a few together and there were several teams that went out due to just sled failure...that has to be really frustrating.

 not sure if you can see it  but if you look this dog below has a urine collection bag on him.  they all eventually get tested.
 all the dropped dogs fly into anchorage and get a last check from the vets, from there they are picked up by the mushers handlers.  those that don't get picked up right away are taken to the local prison where they are cared for by a select group of inmates until they are picked up.
 i think this is Nicholas Petits sled.  he's the most recent scratch.  looks pretty fancy this sled.  very nice.
 always love this dog truck.  the dogs look so cute putting their heads out to check everything out

 enjoying the sunshine before the long trip
 i believe this is Lanier who went out with an anchillis tear i think.  guess he always wears that padding and has added a helmet...wasn't enough this year though.
 this little kid was playing with (or more likely bugging) this dog.  the dog didn't seem to keen on it all, but was very tolerant.
 liked the bright colours
 always a few cool license plates out there.  there is also a plate for Alaska that says Iditarod Finisher on it, which is pretty cool i think.
 i think these are Janseens dogs.
 this dog trailer looks well used.
 last Baker gets ready
i shall get some rest.  every day i'm sleepy...

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