The handler team has united in Dawson City. I rolled in last night at 9pm with Mike Ellis. It was a beautiful drive and we made great time doing the entire 900 mile drive in 15 hours with two quick stops for meals. Mike brought up the contrast of what we just accomplished to what the mushers will take 9-12 days to do and what one hundred twenty years ago would have taken a musher even longer. It was great to see the familiar landmarks and checkpoints along the Quest route as we drove north from Whitehorse, but we both agreed that we’d both rather be on a dogsled. We also both agreed that we are ecstatic to be able to come to Dawson to help. Mike will be helping Brent at his camp. We’ll talk more about Dawson dog camp and what “help” means later today. First I want to catch up with what is going on out on the trail.
We’ll start with Paige this time. Paige took roughly a 6 hour rest in Pelly while she got some rest herself and took her time packing up her sled. Packing for 200 miles of trail is not easy. She was planning 3 runs in the 65-70 mile range. Each run will takes 8-9 hours under normal conditions, longer under other circumstance. We typically snack our dogs every 2 hours on the trail either a frozen meat or fish snack or dry kibble that is soaked in water. Sometimes alternating the two as you go down the trail. So for an 8 hour run, she’ll need 4 bags of snacks, Each bag of snacks weighing about 8 lbs. So we are looking at 24 lbs of snacks for that run. For three runs that is 72 lbs total. You never know what the Quest trail will throw at you, so maybe throw in a couple extra snacks to be safe and now we are at 90 lbs.
She was planning to do two camps on this route of about 5-6 hours each. Each time she camps she’ll feed a bucket of hot food, Which contains 8 lbs of raw beef and 8lbs of Inukshuk dry kibble. Sometimes on a camp this long, we’ll give them a little broth before going to make sure they are hydrated using a couple more pounds of meat. So we are looking at about 18 lbs of food for a camp. Two camps means 36 lbs. Once again, you never know when weather or bad decisions will force you to take another camp and help is not an option. So take an extra meal just in case. 54 lbs in meals.
A few other important items for this stretch.
Cooker fuel – 12 lbs. Half bale of straw – 20 lbs.Human food and snacks – 15 lbs
I could go on and on with weights of her normal gear that she carries all the time,. but just looking at the supplies needed to camp her and her dogs on this stretch, we are looking at 191 lbs. Her sled with her normal gear is already over 100 lbs. If she was doing another whole run and camp, then she would need another meal. The mushers that do very well in this section learn to drop weight. One of the ways to drop weight is to run longer and camp less. However, these are long runs in serious country, so one does not attempt that unless they are confident in their teams abilities. Our teams have always run this section in past races in 4 runs and 3 camps. So you can say we are learning and evolving and we shall continue to do so.
Paige left Pelly at 2:15 PST in 7th place. She dropped Skinny Jeans since he did not seem as enthused to pull as the rest of the team. Vets checked him over and he seemed to be fine with no particular issues. She has still been standing on the brake and drag to this point to try to keep the team slow and controlled, so she was not concerned about loosing one dog from the team at this point. Skinny Jeans is now sleeping in the trailer and dragging Megan around town on his long break in Dawson before going home to continue training for my Iditarod team. Paige ran about 65 miles and camped for 6 hours, right on her plan. At 4 am PST, she broke camp and hit the trail again and is moving along through this rolling terrain at a normal speed. She is just a few miles for Scroggie Creek dog drop, which she isn’t planning to stay at this year, however there is a vet stationed here and she can leave dogs to be flown out to us at Dawson. If any dog are having issues she can get help, advice or drop the dog there. After Scroggie, her plan is to head on down the trail another 30 miles or so after Scroggie before camping again. This will put her in the Black Hills after a long climb up what we call the switchbacks. It is steep long uphill climb for several miles. Even with 13 strong dogs, Paige will be kicking and running to help out. Luckily after that first run, a camp and most of a second run behind her, they’ll have much less weight to haul up that hill. She’ll do another camp around 6 hours and then bring the dogs down toward the Indian River Valley, then roughly 25 miles up and over King Solomon’s dome and then downhill 25 miles into Dawson sometime late tonight. Easier written than done. This lady and team are doing awesome. Keep it up.
So what else is going on out there. Brent has made up some major time on Hugh in this race and now has a small lead. Brent ran a more conservative race giving his dogs 6 to 7 good rests along this route while Hugh went for the long runs and only 4 rests to this point. Brent’s team is well rested and is doing only 80 mile run into Dawson while it appears that Hugh is attempting the 100 miles straight. Brent will likely pull away from Hugh on this last big climb over King Solomon’s Dome. Katherine is camped at Scroggie, which leaves her with 100 miles to Dawson. It is not unheard of for people to run this straight, but it is a serious hilly run with some major elevation gains. Allen and Matt both stayed at Scroggie and are now on the move will they all make the 100 mile run into Dawson or take a short break on the trail?. Ed’s tracker show’s that he did a similar scenario to Paige and is now camped in the Black Hills in the area that Paige is headed next.
Can Paige catch any of these mushers? She will be passing Katherine as she goes through Scroggie, but they will likely leap frog again as they go into Dawson. They are running very similar just off one cycle with Katherine slightly ahead. I suspect you’ll be seeing this play out for a long ways down the trail. Allen’s speed is starting to drop with each run. I think that Katherine and Paige will catch up with Allen if they all remain on this trajectory.
Gold Hill imported beer and fine wine in Ester, Alaska has been very generous this year with a cash donation to the kennel and also by donating to kegs of beer to our fundraiser party that we recently had. If you are rolling down the Parks Highway, stop in to the Gold Hill store and check out their awesome selection of craft beers and tastey wines.