From Yentna Station to Skwentna is all on the Yentna River, with the last few miles up the Skwentna River to the checkpoint. The river stays between well-defined banks for about five miles upstream from Yentna Station (a wilderness lodge and haven for mushers and snowmachiners, and a long time partner of the Iditarod since sometime around 1982!), and also for the last 15 miles into Skwentna. In the middle 15 miles it branches out into a maze of channels and sloughs, any of which can have a trail for local traffic. This is normally a fast run with no hills, provided the trail is in good shape; most teams make the leg in three to four and a half hours.
The trail out of the checkpoint usually stays close to the north bank of the river for three miles before swinging across to the south bank at the Yentna Station Roadhouse, a wilderness lodge and resort for snowmachiners on the north bank above the river. Musher friends and family and volunteers find the Yentna Station Roadhouse checkpoint to be a great early viewing point with food and board, and often come for the big “I-did-enough” party the night before the race passes through!
A mile or so upstream from Yentna Station, the river makes a near-90-degree turn to the left (west).
Eye on the Trail: Remembering Yentna Station’s Dan Gabryszak