As I had expected, the twins had camped in Cripple for about five and a half hours early on Friday, hitting the trail a little after 11am. Anna dropped one dog here, leaving her 10 dogs in harness, while Kristy pulled out with 11 dogs. They mushed the 70 miles from Cripple to Ruby over the afternoon and early evening hours, arriving in Ruby a touch after midnight Saturday morning. They were out on the trail for around 13 hours, so contrary to my expectation, they clearly camped along the trail. As noted, they took their 8-hour in Ruby before embarking on the 50 mile run to Galena.
The run from Ruby to Galena is all on the Yukon River, America's third longest. The weather looks clear with temps in the single digits above 0F and winds calm. Trail conditions are reported as smooth going on this stretch, with occasional sightings of open water and patches of gritty or icy trail. Expect the twins to mush this in 6 hours, give or take. When they arrive in Galena, the twins will have mushed 545 miles, leaving around 430 miles to Nome.
Two additional teams have scratched from the race, leaving 78 teams on the trail. Alas, one of those two is Scott Janssen, the Mushin' Mortician, another close friend to Seeing Double and owner of the kennel where the twins live and work. We send our best to Team Janssen, safe and swift travels home.
And I bet this will get you growlin' mad... It was reported that early Saturday morning, mushers Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King were both victims of an unprovoked attack by a snowmachine between Galena and Nulato. Sadly, one of King's dogs was killed and two others received non-life threatening injuries. Aliy also had one dog sustain non-life threatening injury. Both mushers and teams were shook up, and the mood amongst other mushers on the trail was reportedly solemn. King and Zirkle were both able to continue in the race, and the man responsible has been identified and is being investigated by state troopers and other authorities.
Zirkle and King are even continuing on amongst the top 10 teams. The current leader, Brent Sass, is out of Kaltag (race mile 629), with one other musher into Kaltag and several closing in on this checkpoint. The back of the pack has one team in, and a handful of others recently out, of Ophir, a lead/lag spread of some 277 miles! But hey... with nearly half of the last twenty mushers running as rookies, I am merely stating facts, not spouting criticisms. Qualifying for and even completing a portion of this grueling event is commendable, let alone successfully completing it in any place, even last.
Nearly all of the top 45 teams are reported as having completed both their 24-hour and 8-hour on the Yukon rests. Each team will have one more mandatory 8-hour in White Mountain. With respect to the number of dogs on each team, the twins are skewed slightly to the lower side with 10 and 11 dogs each, with more teams falling in the 11-15 dog bracket. But, there is one musher with 8 dogs and a few still with 16, so most anything goes... as long as you still pull under the burled arch in Nome with at least 5 dogs in harness.
As Anna and Kristy continue making their way up the trail, here are some images of what they've seen in past Iditarods as well as examples of what they're most likely seeing now. Looks like good mushin' out there, so I bet the twins are having a good weekend. Hope you are, too!