I See Dead People on the Trail… Vague reports are indicating an increased number of ghost sightings on the trail this year. Legend has always warned mushers to leave some food to appease the ghost of the Old Woman at her namesake cabin between Kaltag and Unalakleet. Some of champion Susan Butcher’s ashes were also scattered here in 2007. This year, musher Jason Mackey is carrying a small urn taped to the handle bars of his sled containing the ashes of a young California man. Mushers may not be hallucinating if they see spirits on the trail.
You Don’t Have to See to Believe… Just ask musher Cindy Abbott. This year was her second Iditarod start, and while she was forced to scratch both times, she’s a winner in our book. Abbott is functionally blind in one eye and can barely see with the other, due to a rare condition known as Wegener’s Granulomatosis. Not only did she satisfy the Iditarod’s requirements to enter the race in the first place, she covered some 840 race miles between her two appearances.
Iditarod 2014 Introduces New Musher Slang… Mushers have a language all their own, and it seems to be expanding. Traditional favorites like “gee” for left and “haw” for right are now being joined with a more modern sounding buzz phrase, “hit-the-button”. Derived from the new SPOT GPS tracking units, any musher who has to “hit-the-button” and activates either help or 911 functions automatically scratches from the race.
Twins Boycott Caffeine, Dogs Refuse Nail Trims… For the two weeks leading up to the start of Iditarod 2014, Kristy and Anna were strictly “off” caffeine. They wanted to make sure any and all caffeine they took in during the race packed the maximum punch. Meanwhile, their dogs declined nail trims over the same time period. It promised to wreak havoc on booties, but what better way to arm the dogs for running on ice than built in claw cleats?
Size Does Matter … Did you know that Alaska is nearly 2 ½ times the size of Texas? And look how it stacks up to the lower 48.