Virtual Trail Journey – Checkpoint Pronunciation and Quick Facts

How do you say Shaktoolik?  I’m not sure if I’m saying Unalakleet correctly and how cold does it get in Unalkleet?  What about Koyuk?   I get these types of questions on a regular basis.  Seemed like it might be useful to create a guide with pronunciations and pertinent information for teachers and students.  So in my spare time between classes at Lead Dog University, I did lots of research to create a short and sweet reference guide.  While this isn’t a complete list of all the Iditarod checkpoints, pronunciations and quick facts are provided for the ones that are most difficult to pronounce.

Yentna Station Roadhouse (YENT-NA) – Population 8 is located 75 miles northwest of Anchorage. The Roadhouse, operated by the Gabryszak family and open year round for recreation enthusiasts. Access is by air, boat, bike or foot during the summer. In the winter access to the roadhouse is by ski place, snowmachine, dog team, skies or snowshoes. The roadhouse serves as a checkpoint for the Iditarod and Junior Iditarod races.

Skwentna (SKWENT-na) – Population 114 is located 70 air miles northwest of Anchorage. January temperatures range from -30 to 33 while July can vary from 42 to 83 degrees (F). Annual precipitation averages 28 inches with 70 inches of snowfall. The community is spread over a great distance with most residences being used seasonally. There is no road access so residents depend on air and snowmachine for travel. The school is closed.

Rohn (ROAN) – Population 0 is the gateway to the flatlands and cold temperatures of the interior. The original Rohn Roadhouse served the mushers and dog teams carrying mail on the original Iditarod Trail.

Nikolai (NIK-o-lie) – Population 109 is located 46 air miles east of McGrath. Average summer temperatures range from 42 – 80 while winter temperatures range from -62 to 0 degrees (F). Precipitation is light, averaging 16 inches per year including 56 inches of snowfall. This Athabascan community is active in subsistence food gathering. Summer construction, trapping and handicrafts provide income. Access is by air or water. Boats, ATVs and snowmachines are used for local transportation, recreation, hunting and gathering. 20 students attend the community school.

Takotna (Ta-COT-na) – Population 38 is located 17 air miles west of McGrath. Summer temperatures average 42 to 80 while winter temperatures range from -42 to 0 degrees (F). There is a mixed population of non-Natives, Ingalik Indians and Eskimos with a combined cash and subsistence economy. Access is by air or water. Locals use the 80 miles of local roads. 28 students attend the community school.

Ophir (OH-fur) – Population 0 was named by Bible-reading prospectors after the lost country of Ophir, the source of King Solomon’s gold.

Iditarod (I-DIT-a-rod) – Population 0 (southern) marks the halfway point of the Iditarod trail for odd years. Between 1908 and 1925, thirty five million dollars of gold was mined from the area that was a bustling community of 10,000 people.

Shageluk (SHAG-a-luck) – Population 139 (southern) is located 20 miles east of Anvik. Summer temperatures average from 42 to 80 while winter readings can range from -62 to 0 degrees (F). Annual precipitation is 67 inches with 110 inches of snow. Shageluk is an Ingalik Indian community that relies on subsistence activities. Access to is by air or water. Locals use ATVs, snowmachines and dog sleds for transportation. 35 students attend the local school.

Galena (gull-LEE-na) – Population 600 (northern) is located 270 air miles west of Fairbanks. The average high temperature in July is in the low 70s while the average low in January ranges from 10 to below zero. Extreme temperatures have been measured from -64 to 92 degrees (F). The population is mixed Athabascan and non-Native. With its airport and the Yukon River, Galena is the regional transportation hub. Pickups, cars, snowmachines, skiffs and ATVs provide local transportation. There are 4 schools in Galena.

Nulato (nu-LAH-TOE) – Population 450 (northern) is located 310 air miles west of Fairbanks. Extreme temperatures have ranged from -55 to 90 degrees (F). The average high in July is in the low 70s with the average low in January being well below zero. Average precipitation is nearly 16 inches with 74 inches of snowfall. Nulato’s residents are mostly Koyukon Athabascans with a trapping and subsistence lifestyle. The airport provides year round access. The Yukon River is the primary mode of transportation as an ice road in winter and waterway in summer. Cars, trucks, snowmachines, ATVs and skiffs provide local transportation. 117 students attend the community school.

Kaltag (CAL-tag) – Population 240 is located on the Yukon River 75 miles west of Galena and 335 miles west of Fairbanks. Extreme temperatures have been measured from -55 to 90 degrees (F). The average high temperature in July is in the low 70’s with the average low during January ranging from 10 to well below zero. Sustained -40 degree temperatures are common during the winter. Katlag’s residents are Koyukon Athabascans who rely on a subsistence lifestyle. 54 children attend the community school. Residents travel to and from Kaltag by air. Snowmachines, ATVs and riverboats are used for local transportation.

Unalakleet (YOU-na-la-kleet) population 714 is located 148 miles southeast of Nome and 395 miles northwest of Anchorage. Average summer temperatures range from 47 to 62 while winter temperatures average -4 to 11 degrees (F). Precipitation averages 14 inches annually with 41 inches of snow. Unaligmiut Eskimos exist on a subsistence lifestyle along with an active local economy. 203 students attend the community school. Local travel is by ATV’s, snowmachine and dogsleds. There is an airstrip with regularly scheduled flights to Anchorage.

Shaktoolik (Shak-TOO-lick) population 178 is located 125 miles east of Nome and 33 miles north of Unalakleet. Summer temperatures average 47 to 62 while winter temperatures average -4 to 11. Extremes of -50 to 87 have been recorded. Average annual precipitation is 14 inches including 43 inches of snowfall. Shaktoolik is a Malemiut Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. 58 students attend the community school. Primary access is by air and sea. Residents travel locally via motorbike, truck and boat during the summer and by snowmachine and dog team in the winter.

Koyuk (coy-uk), population 231 is located 90 air miles northeast of Nome. Koyuk is a traditional Unalit and Malemiut Eskimo village where the residents maintain a subsistence life style. 105 students attend the community school. Access is limited to air and sea.

Elim (EE-lim), population 264 is located 96 miles east of Nome or 46o northwest of Anchorage. Summer temperatures average between 46 & 62 while winter temperatures average -8 to 8 degrees (F). Annual precipitation is 19 inches including 80 inches of snow. Elim is an Inupiat Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. 99 students attend the community school. Elim is reached by air or sea.

The Virtual Trail Journey stories follow these pronunciations and quick facts.  There are oodles of pictures, stories and information to give you a real feeling of being on the trail with an Iditarod team.

 

Born to Run,

Sanka