Iditarod teams have finally gotten some respite from the warmer-than-usual weather and challenging trail conditions that marked the first week of the race.
Alaska Public Media’s Lex Treinen reports:
The trail on the frozen Yukon River was hard and fast into the community of Galena early Saturday, at race mile 545, said veteran musher Dan Kaduce. Kaduce and his 14 dogs pulled into the checkpoint at 4 a.m. and settled in to rest. He said his dogs enjoyed running in the below-zero temperatures.
“We’re one of the farthest north teams in the race,” said Kaduce, whose kennel is in Chatanika north of Fairbanks. “Those warm temperatures are not our style. These guys were way more back at home last night and hopefully here today.”
Even with the drop in temperatures, Kaduce still worked without gloves as he prepared his dogs to continue down the trail toward Nulato.
Nearby, British Columbia musher Aaron Peck said the cold was good for his dogs too, though he was less excited about it for himself.
“They thrive in that — it’s me that was doing jumping jacks on the sled trying to stay warm,” he said.
Lev Shvarts arrived at the checkpoint on Saturday morning in his heavy parka and frost-tipped ruff. He took it off in the dog yard and was wearing a military-surplus parka and snow pants.
“I’m wearing everything I brought — it’s very poofy,” he said.
Nearby Paige Drobny had her own clothing concerns. She’s been wearing the same outfit since the race started last Sunday — sweating in the heat and freezing in the recent cold.
“I just had this thin pair of socks on just because that’s what I had,” she said. “My feet got a little bit cold. It wasn’t that much fun.”
It didn’t stop her from nodding off behind the sled on the way into Galena though.
“It was that smooth and nice and we’re that far into the race that it’s hard to stay awake,” she said.
Image at top: Paige Drobny approaches the Galena checkpoint at sunrise on Saturday around 8 a.m. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)