Packing the Sled

Paws Along the Trail with a Dog Sled

Sled showing a sled bag and one way to carry snowshoes

The brake! A musher told me they have to ride the brake for about the first 100 miles as the dogs are so excited to run!

Sleds are being carefully packed and checked this week.  Iditarod rules 15 and 16 concern mandatory gear to be carried in each musher’s sled.  Sled bags line the sleds and close to waterproof the contents.  These are unfastened at the checkpoints and mushers must be ready to show they have all their required gear.  One musher once shared that she ties her ax to the sled because a musher simply cannot lose it in deep snow!  Here is a list of mandatory gear:

  1.  Proper cold weather sleeping bag
  2. Ax
  3. One pair of snowshoes
  4. Any Iditarod Trail Committee promotional material – this used to be “Trail Mail” in honor of the Iditarod Trail being the route dog teams would help deliver mail to the interior of Alaska
  5. Eight booties for each dog in the sled or in use
  6. One operational cooker and pot capable of boiling at least three gallons of water at one time
  7. Veterinarian notebook, to be presented to the veterinarian at each checkpoint
  8. Functional, non-chafing harness for each dog in the team and a functional neckline
  9. When leaving a checkpoint, adequate emergency dog food must be on the sled

Sliced frozen salmon can be a great snack! [photo credit Shaynee Traska]

Of course, on the sled is also people food.  Vacuum sealed foods are brought like thin burritos, pizza, granola or protein bars, and more.  Dog snacks are also carried so the dogs can snack often.  

I’ve included a mandatory gear coloring page for students to keep in their Iditarod packets.  Sled Items

More Iditarod happenings:

Yesterday, the mushers took a break from packing their sleds to attend a mandatory meeting.  Many greeted each other as long lost friends, laughing and catching up over coffee and donuts.  Mark Nordman, race marshal, began the meeting with roll call.  I enjoyed sitting in the back, listening to the responses so similar to my students:  “Here!”  “Yes, Sir!”  “Yep!” (lots of these)  “Yes!”   Expectations were discussed for the two race starts such as parking, cleaning up the dog straw, and more  The principal  sponsors of Iditarod spoke on how proud they are to support this race.

A pizza luncheon was held for mushers to meet with their Iditariders.  People may bid, as a fundraiser, to ride in the musher’s sled during the ceremonial start.  We enjoyed learning more about our mushers, how they got started, the training, and their excitement!  One friend told me she begged her musher not to dump her out on the 90 degree turn tomorrow.  He laughingly assured her he would not!  

Bright signs helped mushers and Iditariders find each other

Anna Berington, Heidi, Andy Pohl, Kristy Berington

Today, last minute preparations will continue with errands being run and, most likely, one more check over the mandatory sled items.