Wednesday, March 9, 2011

24 in Takotna

Mike and the team got to Takotna at 7:40 am this morning.  According to Mike's plan he wrote in Anchorage, he was anticipating arriving in Takotna at 8 am.  Pretty incredible strategy.  Talk about a musher who knows exactly how his dogs will perform.  Mike and the dogs, and many other mushers, are taking their 24 hour break in Takotna.  Each musher is required to stop at a checkpoint of their choice for 24 hours.  Mike will actually be staying for 25 hours and 10 minutes.  This will accommodate for the difference in starting times of the teams.  The 24 hour break is a chance for mushers to get a little extra sleep and give extra food and care to their dogs.  Takotna is one of the favorite spots for a 24 due to its great hospitality and food. 

Many people have asked me if I have heard from Mike.  I had not heard from him since the start of the race, but I was hoping that he might call during his 24.  (My one fear was that he would not remember our phone number!)  However, he not only remembered it, but found time and a phone to call on.  His report was filled with great news.  He says that the dogs are doing incredibly.  They have been running at a really steady pace, which has kept them happy and healthy.  He is taking great care of them and is totally impressed by their performance and attitudes.  He said that he himself is doing great.  He is eating and feels very sharp, despite the lack of sleep.  He plans to get some good rest tonight.  He has finally had a chance to take his boots off.  He said the only chance he had to go inside before this was for an hour in Nikolai. 

Overall, he kept expressing how awesome his experience has been.  When I asked him what I should tell people he said it is "indescribable."  I can't even begin to imagine the country that he is having a chance to see and the connection he is experiencing with the dogs.  Mike explains that the relationship between a musher and his dogs is akin to military comrades.  Both he and the dogs are vested in their mutual success.  Hence the level of trust they develop and their understanding of each other's needs, habits, and nuances is extraordinary. 

I have definitely been enjoying the 24 hour break.  I still find myself checking the GPS info, even though I know he is staying still.  Mike gave me an interesting perspective on the trackers.  He said that each time it sends a signal to the satelites, it does so with a little flash of red light.  So just as we are thinking of him every 15 minutes, as the report updates, he is also thinking of us watching him. 

Photo Sarah Waterman

Tomorrow will bring more movement down the trail.  It is a short 20 miles to Ophir, but then 80 miles to Iditarod and still a total of 620 miles to Nome.  Until tomorrow I hope you are all having as much fun with your dogs as Mike is with ours. 


  1. Hi Caitlin
    Claire and I actually got to meet you and Mike last July. He drove us to Jeff King's Husky Homestead and you gave the demonstration with the dogs. We were on the inland portion of a Holland America Cruisetour. We were quite impressed by the experience. Claire is a fourth grade teacher here in Rockaway NJ and is keeping the children up to date about Mike and the dogs as they journey to Nome. She actually had a woman musher from NJ come in to speak with the kids and show them a dog. I am following Mike and reading your comments several times during each day and emailing the "Howler" to her at school.
    If we ever have the chance to come to Alaska again I hope we get to visit you and Mike and the "athletes" at The Wolf's Den Kennel.
    Best regards and GOOD LUCK MIKE!

  2. Just so you know, our class (Banks Christian Academy in Buxton, Oregon) have chosen Mike as our musher to follow this year. My kids are so excited as they come in each morning and I tell them where Mike is on the trail, and how many dogs he has still racing with him, and read your report to them. Tell Mike we're rooting and praying for his safety on the long trail! Mrs. McCleery (3/4 grade class)

  3. your posts and pictures are so inspiring! they remind me to re-focus on my goals, big thank you for that. keep posting and inspiring!!!!