Eye on the Trail: Jessica Klejka makes the Gold Coast

Jessica Klejka after a wet run from Kaltag and She is Smiling

Jessica Klejka’s run from Kaltag to Unalakleet was a wet one.  “We were pretty deep in the water so there is probably ice inside the bag,” said Klejka.  Klejka said the water she crossed seemed like rivers but in actuality they were probably small streams.  She stopped at Old Woman Cabin and much to her delight, bikers had a fire going so the cabin was very warm.  She got some things dry but didn’t stay long enough to complete the job.

Jessica came into Unalakleet with 11 dogs on her team.  Her run from Kaltag took 18 hours 39 minutes.  She averaged 4.56  miles per hour.  Long, slow and wet wouldn’t normally make for a great run, but as usual, Jessica was very upbeat.  Her athletes were taking careful notice of the kibble and snacks she was passing out. Vets were checking her team over as she was cooking up a gourmet canine feast.

Blonde Leader, Radar, Looks for a Snack

Klejka is leading a four-car train across the old portage trail although the mushers were probably not in sight of each other.  Ryan Santiago took to the trail with 12 dogs at 22:42 on Monday night.  Martin Apayauq Reitan departed Kaltag at 00:55 with 13 dogs and Sebastien Dos Santos Borges left Kaltag at 01:22 with 12 dogs, both on Tuesday Morning.  The caboose of this short train is Blair Braverman who left Kaltag at 09:48 on Tuesday morning with 11 dogs. 

Still in Kaltag are Alison Lifka and Michael Baker.  Lifka and Baker made Kaltag shortly after 13:00 hours Tuesday afternoon.  For the back of the packers, rest in Kaltag has ranged from 8 hours to 12.5 hours.  Estimating that Lifka and Baker will head out of Kaltag before midnight. 

Kristin Bacon’s Drop Bags

Kristin Bacon and Anja Radano left Eagle Island only a minute apart at around 20:30.  Bacon has 12 dogs and Anja has 11.   Some of Kristin’s helpers/handlers did some quite fun sketches and inspirational sayings on her drop bags.  She’ll appreciate their efforts upon arriving in Unalakleet.

The final trio of teams are traveling very close to each other between Eagle Island and Kaltag. Victoria Hardwick with 14 dogs lead the way out of the tent checkpoint at 04:48.  Jeremy Keller followed at 04:51 with 8 dogs and Cindy Gallea departed at 04:52 with 8 dogs.  Likely they are taking turns in lead as they travel up the Yukon to Kaltag.

Lev Shvarts

Lev Shvarts and his team remain in Unalakleet waiting for transport back home.  Shvarts is one of ten mushers who have scratched from Iditarod XLVII.  Lev scratched with 7 dogs in harness, his reason being the good of his race team. Shvarts commented that with the slow difficult trail, it just made sense to scratch.  He’s confident his decision was the right decision for his team and their future well-being.  Lev was running his Alaskan Husky team from 2018.

It’s sunny in Unalakleet which is quite welcome since the past several days have been cloudy/snowy. Folks are out and about enjoying the sun.  Some of the community residents have been hard at work today baking pies for the Covenant Church Pie Social scheduled for 7 pm this evening.  The church has been a hub of activity all day.  I can imagine folks were very busy setting up tables and chairs and getting organized for the not to be missed event.

Ketil Reitan in the Citizen’s Ski Race

In talking with the Citizen’s Ski Race organizer this morning, she was very excited at having their largest number ever – 58!  As I mentioned before, Ketil Reitan, Martin Apayauq Reitan’s father entered the open class. He finished in 6th place and so his ribbon a waits pick up with Martin’s musher mail inside the checkpoint.