The afternoon was quite warm but the temperature has dropped from the upper 30’s to the upper 20’s and the dogs coming in tonight are very spirited. Martin Apayauq Reitan blew through McGrath at 18:56. Kristin Bacon arrived at 20:44 and after signing in and talking to the vets, Kristin also headed to Takotna.
Other teams arriving this evening declared their 24-hour layover. Blair Braverman, Anja Radano, Niklas Wikstrand, Michael Baker and Ryan Santiago are parked and bedding their dogs down for a long pleasant nap. Of the group, Anja who drew bib number two will have the longest layover of 25 hours and 42 minutes. Braverman will stay 25 hours and 24 minutes. Wikstrand will rest 24 hours and 22 minutes. Mike Baker will stay 24 hours and 24 minutes. Ryan Santiago will stay 24 hours and 8 minutes. The comms people are responsible for calculating the length of the stay and the checkers are responsible for releasing the team on time.
The checker will be very busy tonight. Of the mushers in the checkpoint finishing the long layover, Wade Marrs will be leaving at 23:56 Wednesday evening. Seven teams will depart before 07:00 on Thursday morning – Sarah Stokey, Aaron Peck, Lev Shvarts, Ramey Smyth, Jeff Deeter, Brett Bruggeman and Seth Barnes.
Here are some general observations from McGrath Checkpoint this evening. Martin Apayauq Reitan’s dog team was extremely impressive entering and leaving McGrath. Many stories of broken sleds and bumps and bruises sustained in the Gorge and leaving Rohn were shared by the mushers around the dinning table inside the checkpoint. Rookies of the group say the Happy River Steps were challenging but not as bad as the Gorge. Most felt the Gorge lived up to its reputation especially near the end where a large sheet of ice slanting toward the creek caused more that one musher to get wet.
Kristin Bacon’s friends decorated her drop bags with inspirational messages. The McGrath message was a Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
In the next day, McGrath will play host to six teams coming from Nikolai. Marcelle Fressineau and Jeremy Keller are on the trail heading this way. Cindy Abbott, Cindy Gallea, Alison Lifka and Victoria Hardwick are still in Nikolai but expected to depart sometime soon.