Friday, March 16, Nome—- Tents coming down—View to the future——Can you see Russia from here? By Joe Runyan
Mushers wandering about the community center, eating lunch at beach side restaurants, snacking their dogs in the dog lot, and seen in fresh street clothes now outnumber the mushers on the trail. The carnival tents are coming down on the Iditarod.
Here’s what happens. The Iditarod finishers banquet on Sunday afternoon is a mandatory affair—-if you want to get your prize money and the prized Iditarod belt buckle given to finishers. Therefore, I don’t know anybody personally that’s blown off the banquet, though the other requisite elements of living on earth—like getting back home to fix the frozen plumbing—are beginning to press on mushers.
John Baker seems calm, but the city water supply broke under his house while he was going over the Alaska Range and while he was focused on Takotna, a large glacier began to freeze under the foundation in cryogenic Kotzebue, located north of Nome on the north side of the Arctic circle. His brother told me that the glacier will probably start lifting his house off the foundation. Whoops, there went his prize money.
Ed Stielstra, who I have been following in the mini documentary style, was featured in an early article. He departed from the UP (upper peninsula Michigan, people in this area think everyone understands what UP means) and planned driving straight thru to anchorage. In anchorage, the reader may recall, he reported a successful transverse of the continent in 3 days. Now in Nome after his 7th successful Iditarod he tells me the 10 of his 11 core dogs made it to Nome in “phenomenal shape.” I want to know if he can leisurely go back home. “Nope, we are going to slow it down and do it in four days. One of my drivers has to be at work. ” Is there no joy?
Brent Sass (Rookie of the 2112 race) and Dad are perusing race results on a public computer at the Iditarod headquarters in Nome. I ask if his mother, who stayed at home, has been following his progress. Did she display any concerns when the weather shut the pack down a wind buffeted Shaktoolik. “Naw, she knows I like that stuff because I can catch some people. “
Insiders Josh and Greg film and edit our Insider musher videos At the finish line and offer their choices for compelling video.
To wit: Bruce Linton, who courageously manages diabetes on the trail, was particularly compromised in brutal winds and 30 below temps. Near Shaktoolik, his insulin supply frozen, his reading went to over 600—the meter essentially pegged to maximum. Additional insulin was flown in and he was back to 38, but still the experienced left him with the sober opinion, “I may not be able to manage under those conditons.” In addition, he explains the anxiety is at times overwhelming. He spent 34 hours in Shaktoolik, resolving his medical condition.
Adding to the adventure, he explained at our Insider video profiles, that he lost the team in the notoriously barren trail, strewn with root wads and rocks frozen into place, on a glacier outside of Rohn checkpoint.
In the Bering Sea Restaurant, table side windows looking west out on the Bering Sea barely fifty yards away, Jerry Sousa, his daughter Denali, and wife Kathleen log in for lunch. Spectacularly, I frame the Sousas in frame, intending to show them with the backdrop of Bering Sea ice extending interminably west towards Russia. As you can see, the photo is massively overexposed, but does have symbolic value and helps segue as a literary device to the question with huge existential implications….
Can Russia be seen from Alaska?
Doing a quick survey using only lay persons for reference, I quickly learn that you can definitely see Russia on a nice day on short approach with a bush airplane to the Nome runway. Furthermore, somebody says, “yeah, yeah, just go to st. Lawrence Island (this is the United States and a lot of St. Lawrence Iditarod fans are here in Nome for Iditarod) and you can see Russia easy.” Then, for what it’s worth, I am told to hike to Tin City Hill and with a pair of good field glasses on a clear day, look at Russia. I did not take the hike and cannot confirm, but my sources seem credible.
Insider conducts a post race interview with our Rookie of the Year Brent Sass (13th place) and discovers that the former college cross country skier at UAF is a serious and motivated contender for future Iditarods. Check out his interview and others at the Insider videos.