May 25, 2018

Eye on the Trail: Iditarod Checkpoint

Marcelle Fressineau runs on the trail in the early morning hours as she arrives at the ghost-town checkpoint of Iditarod on Saturday, March 10th during the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

It’s s bright sunny day (Saturday March 10) in Unalakleet.  From the photo above, it looks like it’s still snowing in Iditarod.  The IAF pilots were eating breakfast early anticipating a busy day of transporting personnel, supplies and dropped dogs.  With snow on the Southern route and on the Yukon River, some of the checkpoints have turned into extended stays for media types like Photo Guy Jeff Schultz and Insider Greg Heister.  Dog teams however are moving along the trail on their planned run-rest schedules.  It reminds me of something Joe Redington, Sr. said about dog teams and snowmachine.

Jim Lanier passes a derelict cabin on the trail into the Iditarod checkpoint on Friday, March 9th during the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

“When I went out to the villages in the late 1950’s where there were beautiful dogs once, a snow machine was sitting in front of a house and no dogs.  It wasn’t good.  I didn’t like that.  I’ve seen snow machines break down and fellows freeze to death out there in the wilderness.  But dogs will always keep you warm and they’ll always get you there.”  Joe’s words are from “I’d Swap my Old Skidoo for You”  by Nan Elliot.

Monica Zappa runs past resting teams on her way to a parking place after checking in to the Iditarod checkpoint on Friday, March 9th during the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

As I’m ready to load this story, twenty mushers have taken on additional food in Grayling and are headed north on the Yukon River toward the community of Kaltag.  Nicolas Petit is resting a few miles short of Eagle Island.  Mitch Seavey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom are resting five miles behind Nic.  Looks like they are breaking the 122 mile distance between Grayling and Kaltag into two 60 miles segments.  No doubt they are tucked into nice cozy spots out of the wind that the Yukon River is always famous for.

Katherine Keith leaves the ghost town of Iditarod during a snowfall on Friday, March 9th during the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Jeff Schultz is in Iditarod and has probably captured everything from “A” to “Z” when is comes to photos.  Thankfully he’s been able to get them up for us to share with fans around the world.  Enjoy his artistry and stay tuned for more info later today as Unalakleet makes ready for mushers to arrive on Sunday.  Come up with your own estimation on when the first team will arrive on the coast.  The leader, Nicolas Petit is at mile 591.  Unalakleet is located at mile 737.  Information on the GPS tracker lists Petit’s average moving speed at 8.1 miles per hour.  Don’t forget to add in his rest time.

Emily Maxwell’s team runs on the trail just priort to the Iditarod checkpoint on Friday, March 9th during the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race