November 28, 2014

Eye on the Trail – Ever Smiling Taggart by Terrie Hanke

Ever Smiling Angie TaggartShortly after 23:00, a faint glow appeared far in the distance and then it disappeared – ditto, ditto, ditto. Several minutes later, the faint glow expanded to a recognizable light bobbing up and down, right and left. Light snow fell, no stars, some wind with moderate Nome temperatures. Some minutes later the light turned into a beam and the fire siren sounded. We left the sea wall for the chute and finish line on Front Street to celebrate with Angie Taggart as she finished her second trip to Nome.

Taggart, ever smiling planted her snow hooks to hold her team under the arch. Immediately she was swarmed by her welcome committee which included her parents from Ketchican and mentor, DeeDee Jonrowe. Taggart’s trip down the gangline to love up and praise her best canine friends including Willow, Bee, Bristol and Stove Pipe was interspersed with human hugs and congratulaitons.

First question for Angie was, “How’s it feel to be in Nome.” She replied, “I’m both happy and sad. My dogs did way better than I ever expected them to do and we had a great trip, there were some very hard spots but it was good over all. I’m sad because this is my last Iditarod. Believe me, it has nothing to do with my dogs, it’s all financial. I’ve got to re-home my dogs and get a job.”

As for the trip along the coast from Unalakleet, Angie said that the wind at Golovin was enough to knock you over. A big gust would come along and I’d nearly get taken out sideways – WHAM! The dogs are lower to the ground they’re not affected as much but it takes good leaders to keep the team from being pushed off course. Commenting on the trip in from White Mountain, Angie said that the blow-hole was a piece of cake but then on the flats coming in from Safety, it was white out conditions because of the wind and recent light snow.

Folks on the trail love and respect Angie. She’s upbeat, has a twinkle in her eye, says please & thank you, is energetic, clearly loves her athletes, loves the trail and the villages and is personable. More than one vet has commented about how in tune Angie is with her dogs and their needs. Her participation in The Last Great Race has been an Inspiration to many. Angie is a teacher and is looking to get back into education. Lucky are the students who’ll come to school next fall and say good morning to Ms. Taggart.