Quest, Dogsledding, Musher race history, Dog Sled Race
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...continued from January 24
So DH and I loaded up the dogs at Paxson, and hit the road, stopping in checkpoints along the way to collect the "drop bags" with the supplies we had packed and sent ahead before the race. It was disappointing to see all the effort being spent with no satisfying results. The dogs were all pretty chipper when we fed them around 4 PM in Wolverine, an indication that they were in good spirits despite the demanding conditions. Well, enough about this race, I just hope the race organizers get their act together and will put on a race next year that's worth going to.
At least DH managed to swerve the truck around this cow moose on the Glenn Highway on the way back. In the evening we met up with William Kleedehn, Catherine Pinard, Hans Gatt, and Thomas Tetz in Tok for a few beers, spent the night, and then headed home the next day.
We arrived just in time to see the temperature drop dramatically and within a few days we hit a low of minus 56 degrees Celsius (-70 Fahrenheit). I managed to pack a new trail with the ski-doo on the Yukon River the evening before it got really cold at 35 below. Then training was on hold for a few days until it warmed up to about 30 below, which does not feel bad at all when you get out of a 50 below stretch. The new trail had set up nice and hard during the 50 below days, and the dogs were exited to hit some new trail.
During the cold spell I started working on the next challenge - the Yukon Quest food drops. About three weeks before race start mushers are required to deliver all food, supplies and gear they want to use during the race packed in poly bags to the race organization, which then sends these "drop bags" out to the checkpoints. During the race the mushers will then find their bags in each checkpoint, loaded with dog food, batteries for head lamps, foot ointment, spare clothing, booties, etc. for the next section of trail. You couldn't carry all food and supplies in the sled from the start, unless you were willing to travel with a 1.000 pound sled.
So I started preparing: My neighbor Marcus Lejion came over for two days to stand at the band saw an cut blocks of horse meat, pork fat and other goodies into bite-sized chunks for the dogs. We would then pack these little cubes and slices into smaller or larger portions, depending if they were to be used for feedings (larger bags) or on the trail as snacks (zip-loc bags). While watching movies I sorted 1.200 new booties ($1 per piece) by size and packed enough for one team of 14 dogs into zip-loc bags. I prepared 25 of these bags with about 1/3 each in small, medium and large booties, which took me about two movies time. In order to determine the bootie sizes and quantities needed I determined who out of my 22 dogs would be at the start line of the Quest. Standing out in training were Maggie (4 years old), Blaze (3), Lori (4), Ali (3), Rainbow (6), Tequila (5), Takotna (2), Ruby (2), Jack (4), Ophir (2), Johnny (2), Mohammed (3), Cassius (3), and Jeckell (2), so they will get to go. Joseph, Yentna and Rohn are the spares - in case one of the Quest dogs gets injured before the race.
I mixed foot powder for the dogs with secret ingredients and filled it into small dispensers for easy use on the trail. 70 dog coats were to wash, dry and sort, so that I would end up with at least 4 different sets for various check points. On top of that I have thinner "racing coats" for the trail and belly blankets for those 40 or 50 below days we might encounter. Spare mukluks and boot liners went out to "strategic locations", leaving me with just enough gear at home to train and start the race. Not all of the supplies sent out will be needed, but I wanted to be prepared in case we have to spend some extra time in a checkpoint or on the trail due to weather or condition of the dogs.
Saturday January 22 was the big day, and I
trucked 35 bags of supplies to the Quest office in downtown Whitehorse, were Wendell Carey
(race manager) in person supervised a handful of volunteers who would load the supplies
into a reefer trailer.
Right now these supplies are likely divided into an "Alaska pile" with destination Fairbanks, Central, Circle and Eagle, and a "Yukon pile", which will be trucked up the North Klondike Highway to Dawson with stops in Braeburn, Carmacks and Pelly.
A big hurdle lies behind me now. Tomorrow the dogs will have their big check-up at the official vet check.
I hope to be able to do another update before the Quest starts on February 13. During the race there will be now news on this site. For race updates go to www.yukonquest.com.