Jeff King first into Koyukuk. The mushers had another cold night out. The thermometer reads minus 37 on my snowmachine. That means it is for sure 40 below or colder on parts of the river. This also reflects in the running speeds. Jeff keeps it close to 8 miles an hour.
The trail as such would have allowed for more, but the cold makes the snow very abrasive and it’s hard pulling for the dogs. Both Mitch Seavey and Aliy Zirkle camped out, their second time after Galena. Once again did Aliy go down the trail a bit further than Mitch; neither of them camped at one of the 2 cabins along the trail.
Aaron Burmeister on the other hand also decided to keep this run a bit shorter and pulled over for a rest; he picked a heated cabin about 23 miles before Koyukuk. It is very likely that all 3, Aliy, Mitch, and Aaron will not stop here in Koyukuk to rest. The checkpoint is at the far end of town, and it is a fair walk between the dog lot and the musher’s cabin, whereas in Nulato, both are very close together. Talking to the checkers and volunteers here, they are eager for the teams to arrive, as some of them are here for 2 days having gotten things ready.
The race within the race between elder Seavey and younger Seavey is still going on. While Dallas is currently stopped on the trail, Mitch has already left his camping spot and is ahead at this point. I am a bit surprised that Dallas stopped on the trail. But I was also surprised in 2012 when Dallas stopped in Nulato for a rest after a relatively short run. I think he is preparing to unleash “his monster“, and rather waits for better temperatures then taxing the dogs with long runs while it is this cold out.
The chasing pack of Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Jessie Royer, Pete Kaiser and Thomas Waerner is traveling one rest time behind. They are about 4 to 5 hours behind the leaders right now. Some of them are traveling slightly faster than the front runners.
Also notable, rookie Jason Campeau is still putting in an extremely solid race. This is Jason’s first season of racing long distance. The 2015 Yukon Quest was his first 1000 miler. Now with about 1500 miles under his belt in the last month, he has gained confidence. Still driving 15 dogs, Jason did not stop for long in Huslia. He is currently in the Top 10. Jason is in good company with Michelle Phillips; both are camped out at a cabin 17 miles past Huslia. From there it is 67 miles here to Koyukuk, I expect both to stop here later on today.
Enjoy the river shots of Jeff King, check out the video on the insider!
Happy trails Sebastian