Quest, Dogsledding, Musher race history, Dog Sled Race
and here a few photos from the Iditarod trail:
than two weeks after finishing the Quest we were under full steam again to
run our first Iditarod. The Quest was one of the coldest ever, the
Iditarod one of the toughest, due to poor snow conditions and strong winds
most of the way. I had a pool of 24 dogs for both races, 10 dogs finished
the Quest and 11 the Iditarod. 8 Dogs finished both races.
On day 3 of the Iditarod most trail obstacles were behind us. The last big one is "the glacier", a few miles north of Rohn. From here on it's "cruising". Sounds easy enough, doesn't it?
"Tourists" on the trail: Ray Redington Jr. takes his brother Ryan's picture during the 24 hour layover in Takotna. Ray and Ryan's grandfather Joe Redington Sr. started the Iditarod in 1973. Both are great guys, but unfortunately placed ahead of myself. I'll have to change that for 2008! :-)
"You couldn't run tourist tours on this on this stuff!" Between Ophir and Iditarod checkpoint mushers encountered 30 miles of no snow, which was especially tricky at night when navigation was a bit edgy. The dogs seemed to master this stretch without problems, but the sleds and mushers took a beating on the rough, bare and frozen tundra.
Sebastian Schnuelle uses skills he acquired back in his days as an automotive technician apprentice with Mercedes-Benz in Germany and fixes his sled at Don's cabin, somewhere in the beautiful nowhere between Ophir and Iditarod. Only the best will do here. I believe in Iditarod Scott Smith changed a sled with two broken runners for a sled with only one broken runner he got from Tim Osmar. Tim had replaced his sled with one broken runner with a perfectly good sled he received from Linwood Fiedler who froze an ear and had to drop out of the race and took a plane out. So everybody stepped up a bit, except I bet Linwood would have rather done without the flight. My sled took a beating too, but never fell apart.
Mushers sleeping in the Shageluk checkpoint. Resting on the benches are 1984 Quest champ Sonny Lindner and 5-time Iditarod champ Rick Swenson. Between themselves they must have close to 50 Iditarods under their belts. There is nothing better than traveling in good company.
Heading for the country I always refused to travel to by plane because I have a dog team: the Bering Sea coast. A few hours west of Kaltag the view opens towards the coast. I still had 12 dogs going strong on a trail they never had seen before. Temperatures were around 20 below, with minimal winds, and the greatest view one could imagine.
In the Blueberry Hills. How bad can it be when they are called "Blueberry Hills" I thought when leaving Unalakleet. But then there is one hill after another, the trail winding in and out, now snow, even a "forest fire" (the tundra had actually caught on fire). The trail also took a heavy toll on snowmachines.
All smiles on the coast. We made one last stop in Safety, 20 miles from the finish. The dogs did not know they only had 20 miles to go. The coastal landscape is unlike anything I've ever seen before, and showed itself from it's best side with hardly any wind. Nome straight ahead, 16 dogs, 2049 miles, no major problems! We'll be back at the coast in 2008!