Saturday, March 12, 2011

Up the Yukon

Mike and the team have come nearly 100 miles since they left Shageluk at 4:30 this morning.  Mike took his mandatory 8 hour break at Shageluk.  Each musher is required to make three mandatory layovers during the race.  One is the 24 hour break at a checkpoint of their choice.  One is an 8 hour break at a checkpoint on the Yukon river,  And the last is 8 hours at White Mountain, the second to last checkpoint.  While these are the only mandatory stops, mushers stop their teams many more times.  Mike is trying to offer our dogs nearly as many hours of rest as they are spending running. 

For the last 75 miles, Mike has been traveling up the Yukon river into the wind.  The Yukon is an immense river close to 2000 miles long and several miles wide.  The unforgiving winds challenge even the most determined mushers and dogs.  Mike and the dogs will take a break at Eagle Island and then face the last 65 miles up the river.  When Mike reaches Kaltag, where he will leave the Yukon river, he will be traveling a trail he has seen before.  In 2008, Mike drove his snowmobile to Nome and he joined the Iditaord trail at Kaltag. Hopefully this familiarity will make the trip a little easier for him.  Having a chance to see the trail and learn about its challenges and amenities is a big part of what Mike wants to do on his rookie run.  I know that he is gaining valuable insights in strategy and dog care that will help him in future races. 

Before the race began, Mike showed me his plan to Takotna.  However, I never saw his plan from Takotna to Nome, so I am at the edge of my seat watching the race progress.

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