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Virtual Trail Journey — Nikolai

As if coming over the Alaska Range wasn’t exciting enough, being in the interior is really exciting! The first Native Alaskan Village that the Iditarod passes through is Nikolai. It is an Athabascan Village, population 100, situated on the south fork of the Kuskowim River. During the gold rush a trading post and roadhouse were …

Virtual Trail Journey – McGrath

From Nikolai it’s a southwest run to McGrath which should take five to seven hours. In his Trail Notes, Bowers considers this to be an easy run but it can be very boring for both the dogs and the drivers. There are so many bends in the Big River and Kuskokwim River that seem to …

Virtual Trail Journey – Takotna

The trail used by Iditarod that runs from McGrath to Takotna (tuh-KOTT-nuh) is a well traveled snowmachine route. The 18 mile distance can be covered in two to three hours. At night or on cold days, the route is generally fast but on warm days, the path can be slow. Most of the distance runs …

Virtual Trail Journey – Ophir

BOO! Being that the next two checkpoints on the trail are located in GHOST TOWNS, my story should begin with a ghostly greeting! So, what’s a ghost town? It’s a deserted town. The residents have left usually because their jobs no longer exist or because of natural disasters, fires or wars. That’s exactly the case …

Virtual Trail Journey – Iditarod

BOO again! Another ghostly greeting from ghost town and checkpoint, Iditarod. Have you ever wondered where the word or name Iditarod came from? I’ve heard 3 explanations so I’ll share them with you. First, Iditarod was a word used by Athabascans that meant FAR DISTANT PLACE. Second, Iditarod was a word used by other Native …

Virtual Trail Journey – Shageluk

It’s been many miles since the mushers and their teams have come to a populated place. Unlike Ophir and Iditarod, Shageluk is populated with people and not ghosts! Handler didn’t actually visit Shageluk as the 2006 Teacher on the Trail because ’06 was an even year so the teams followed the northern route. It wasn’t …

Virtual Trail Journey – Anvik

Leaving Shageluk and mushing on toward Anvik, the teams will have fewer miles to go than they have covered.  No one would be so bold as to say that it’s downhill to Nome from Shageluk because the Yukon River and the Bering Sea Coast present many challenges for the mushers and dogs.  Anvik (AN-vik) is …

Virtual Trail Journey – Grayling

Upon reaching Grayling, mushers and dogs have covered 18 miles of the 148 mile leg of the Iditarod Trail that runs up the frozen Yukon River.  The village to village snowmachine trail is easy to follow but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy run.  The Yukon River is famous for its blustery conditions.  The winds …

Virtual Trail Journey – Eagle Island

When teams reach Eagle Island, they have covered about half of the miles they will be traveling on the Yukon River.  In his Trail Notes, Don Bowers, Jr. calls this section of trail that runs upstream and into the wind on the Yukon long and boring.  He says, “There is nothing but wide-open river and …

Virtual Trail Journey (northern) – Cripple

On the even years, the race will take the northern route to Nome. When the drivers and teams reach Ophir, they’ll take a right and head north to Cripple. The distance from Ophir to Cripple is 59 miles. The total distance from Ophir to Kaltag, where the two trails rejoin on the northern route is …