Virtual Trail Journey – Grayling (Southern Route)

Musher Arrives at Grayling Checkpoint (Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz)

Upon reaching Grayling, mushers and dogs have just 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 will be howling, blowing head on from the north with sub-zero temperatures.  It can be pretty nasty running up the Yukon River to Kaltag.

Teams rest in Grayling between the School and Community Center (Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz)

If the wind is blowing at 30 miles an hour (as it often is) and the temperature is minus 15 degrees F (as it often is), the wind chill would be negative 46 degrees.  Wind chills below minus 10 are considered BITTERLY cold.  Wind chills below minus 20 are EXTREMELY cold.  Exposed human flesh can begin to freeze in just ONE minute!  You can bet the mushers are wearing face masks and eye protection and have their fur ruff in place as they run up the Yukon!

Team Departs Grayling (Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz)

Shortly after leaving Anvik, the mushers will encounter two bends in the river that offer very spectacular scenery.  Just around the first bend, the west bank rises in a series of ridges that tower hundreds of feet above the ice covered river while the east bank stays low.  The next bend is six miles further.  Here there is a peak that rises at least 500 feet above the river. 

Grayling has a population of 200.  Most are of Athabascan decent.  Forty-six students attend the David Louis School that houses the community library and PreK thru 12th grade.

Being only 18 miles upriver from Anvik, the climate and precipitation is about the same.  Highs in July range from the lower 50’s to the upper 60’s.  Lows in January range between zero and 15 degrees below.  On average the village receives 18 inches of rainfall and between 7 and 8 feet of snow.

Arctic Grayling Has Salmon Like Behaviors (Photo Credit: Terrie Hanke)

Did you know that there is a fish called the Arctic Grayling?  I was curious so I did a Google search for grayling and this is what I found out.  The Arctic Grayling is a cousin of the Trout and has many salmon like behaviors.  For example, like salmon, grayling swim up river in the spring to return to their spawning and feeding areas.  Grayling are plentiful, fun to catch and good to eat.

Well there you have it – a snapshot of Grayling, running up the Yukon, bitter cold, extreme windchill and grayling.  Next Handler is going to tell us about the checkpoint of Eagle Island, the Mighty Yukon and a famous gold rush dog named Yukon.  Stay tuned and remember, in everything do your best and always have a plan.

Born to Run,