All of the mushers have officially come and gone through the Takotna checkpoint. If you look at the description of Takotna on the Iditarod website, it says, “This is one of the smallest towns with one of the biggest welcomes.” Having had the opportunity to witness how this checkpoint operates, I couldn’t agree more! When mushers arrive, they enter between several tall and colorful flags. Martin Apayauq Reitan jokingly commented that there are more flags here than many finish lines from other races.
Welcome banners and artwork, all of it made by the local schoolchildren, hang on the checkpoint building. The volunteers range from young children to grown adults. They help check mushers in, clean up straw, stoke the fire, boil water, park dog teams, cook, clean, and more. For years, Nell Huffman has been the Takotna checkpoint coordinator. Nell can be seen consistently working on a task-at-hand or finding ways to make sure the mushers, volunteers and guests are comfortable. And, she does it all with a smile.
In regard to food, you will never go hungry at Takotna. Aside from the delicious meals served throughout the day, the homemade pies have to be some of the best pies in the world.
If you have been watching the GPS tracker, you’ve probably noticed that I’m still located in Takotna. Currently, Mother Nature is bringing snow and winds. The low visibility makes it challenging for the IAF, Iditarod Air Force, to safely fly. While I am unsure as to how long it’ll be before I get picked up, if there’s somewhere I need to be hunkered down, I am happy to be in this welcoming community.
Here’s some photos from Taktona: