I’ve been struggling to get caught up on the blog from the start to current position. Here at the house we have 30 dogs still running in harness, so I have been very busy between organizing the logistics of flights to and from Nome for us and the dogs, helping organize logistics with dropped dogs and trying to keep all 30 dogs at home moving down the trail..  but this morning,the story came a little easier with the ringing of the phone.


The familiar and so sweet, “good morning honey”, came across  my cordless phone as I poured my first cup of coffee.  It was Paige calling at the end of her 24 hour layover in McGrath. While mushers are not allowed outside assistance, they can place a call here and there from checkpoints as long as they are not talking strategy or asking for advice. She sounded refreshed, ecstatic, wild eyed, having the time of her life.  She only had a couple minutes to fill me in, so here is what I learned.. the abbreviated story. She will fill us all in later with the novel.


So her first couple runs went as planned, but coming into Skwentna checkpoint, Fisher started a pretty good limp. She looked him over good and found that his right tricep was sore and bothering him. Kind of surprising since he finished the Yukon Quest just 2 weeks ago. However, he has had some lower spine problems throughout the season, as have I, and our vet T Rose does chiropractic adjustments throughout the season to keep his spine aligned properly. It is possible that this  misalignment caused the other muscles over compensate and to become sore. Being that Paige was just moving through Skwentna to camp beyond, she decided to drop him.. He has been living it up in Girdwood with Jeff ever since. Jeff even said that Fisher is as cool as his dog Jocko and he might have to sponsor Fisher from now on. Sweet!

Brutus and Fisher hanging in the Girdwood sun with their favorite ski bum.


Paige camped as planned outside Skwentna and then went through Finger Lake. Our friends Tim and Michelle of Seward were checkers out there, and so she got the chance to say a quick hello as she blazed on through… coincidentally, we volunteered at Finger Lake a few years ago with them and it was our first real taste of racing.. Bruce Lee was there and he told us he could see sparkle in our eyes and that it was all over for us, we’d be racing soon… we told him, “no, we just have dogs for camping and fun”… here we are running the Quest and Iditarod.. nice prediction Bruce.. I guess that is what he gets paid for.  Paige camped past there and then negotiated the Happy river steps and into Rainy Pass.


On the way into Rainy Pass, as seen on Insider video, Kristy and Anna Berington were working to get Anna’s sled off a stump that had demolished her sled. Soon after moving that  team to work on the sled, Paige rolled up and got stuck as well. I guess the ladies helped her out.. I didnt get this story according to Paige, so we’ll have to ask her later. Brutus began to limp on his front right and he actually had a similar problem on the quest, but I was able to work him through it for 500 miles with massage and heat wraps. Having a large number of dogs and facing the Gorge next, she dropped Brutus.


She made it through the Dalzell Gorge unscathed, no big stories from her on that run and her time was good, so I guess all these crazy trails we run around here and Eureka prepared her well. All that anxiety of the uknown for nothing..  She stopped in Rohn to drop a dog and resupply for a camp and got on her way. I later spoke with Bruce Lee who saw her go through Rohn, He said the team looked great and that she was laughing, smiling, having a blast. She said on the phone that she dropped Yeti, here. I earlier posted that she dropped Elmer, but that was a misunderstanding from my conversation with Bruce. It was Yeti and Yeti also had a right sore triceps.


She headed out about 20 miles from Rohn to camp and this is when the real fun started.. You may have seen a quote from Sebastian earlier to referenced some type of collision of DeeDee Jonrowe’s and Paige’s team. Here is the story. She found a creek with open water which had an ice bridge with a 90 degree turn on it.. She camped right after this, so she could get water for the dogs without having to melt snow.. It turned out to be a bad spot. Soon after getting the dogs bedded down a team of dogs came screaming around the corner, off the trail and around the wrong side of Paiges sled, the dogs barrelled over the resting team and Paige quickly ran up to push the gangline down so it didn’t catch the sled.. Dee Dee Jonrowe went whizzing over and out.. no harm done to any of the dogs. Just got Bleeker worked up a bit as they whizzed right past him. She said the new trail blazed by DeeDee became the popular travel path for the next teams and it wasn’t the best resting spot after all.


Paige checks out Elmer’s toe and loves on the dogs in Nikolai on Tuesday.
AP Photo/Bill Roth, Anchorage Daily News


Headed on to Nikolai, the run went very well. Thule became pretty sore all over, her wrist and shoulder, and wasn’t having a good time anymore. and so she decided to drop Thule in Nikolai. Elmer was also having a slight issue with one of his toes. She thought he had some type of infected nail and asked the vet for some antibioties. However the vet thought he had possibly sprained or broke his toe and since it wasn’t bothering him, she took him doing nothing. In Nikolai Paige reconvened with our good friend Mike Ellis. They had run completely different schedules and somehow rolled in at the same time.  Always nice to see friends on the trail.


On to McGrath, Paige had  a good run. She had the vets look at Elmer’s toe in McGrath and he had an infected nail.. so he instantly was put on antibiotics and should have a happy toe before you know. Elmer is slightly important as he led all but about 100 miles of the Yukon Quest last month. A very reliable steady dog.. Thanks Clint and Sarah! At McGrath, Paige and Mike talked about the best place to do their 24 hour mandatory layover. They both arrived around 7 am and knew that running onto Takotna would put them in there later morning causing them to come off their 24 in the heat of midday. So they both chose to stay. Here is a link to an Alaska Dispatch online article about the two in McGrath.


Paige also noted that some dogs are doing very exceptional. Kraken was dropped early in the Yukon Quest for some minor muscle sorenes and he is doing awesome, Blue is a work a holic and always ready for more. JD is always ready to go. Each time Paige emerges at checkpoints, JD stands up and starts her whining to go.. Paige had to sleep with her at one of the checkpoints to get her to bed down and relax. She said she laid on the straw and JD just curled up tight and rested.. She just needs to spoon!


So here we are.. she sounded rested, happy and ready to take on the bad weather which is slated to come their way.

here is the weather forecast for the area around McGrath:

Today: Cloudy. Highs in the lower 30s. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Near alaska range passes…southeast winds around 30 mph increasing to around 50 mph with local gusts to 70 mph.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s. East winds 10 to 20 mph…except southeast to 50 mph with local gusts to 70 mph near alaska range passes.

Friday: Mostly cloudy. Highs in the lower to mid 30s. East winds around 15 mph…except southeast to 50 mph with local gusts to 70 mph near alaska range passes.

Winds this strong can really challenge the minds of a dog team and wreak havoc on trail conditions. This is bound to keep the race very interesting for all teams out there.


So Paige just finished her 24 hour layover and is on the move again.. her time to stay with start differential was actually 25 hours and 46 minutes. so the team got a very nice long rest.  From here she is running about 50 miles to Ophir, putting her in there mid afternoon to rest out the heat of the day and then get back on a night schedule on her way to Iditarod. Watch for her to start moving back up in the standings as she passes some of the teams still on their 24 hour layovers.. It sure is getting exciting!


The analytics graph from the tracker for her run to McGrath. Notice the climb over Rainy Pass.


Just as an interesting side note.. here is the analytical graph from the tracker data.. lots of interesting things we could talk about here.. study it, maybe we’ll return on another blog.

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