It's nearing 9pm Monday evening in Alaska, and mushers have been out on the trail for over 30 hours. Anna was reported out of Rainy Pass (race mile 153) in 27th place with 13 dogs on the line at 6:30pm after about 3hr 45min resting in checkpoint. An hour later, Kristy did the same with 15 dogs and in 32nd place. Andy was right behind her with all 16 dogs still on the line. They took a longer rest here than planned, but I suspect recent trail conditions warranted a little extra recovery time for the dogs. After all, they're only part way across the Alaska Range. They will also have just mushed to the highest point of the pass through the range, climbing from 1,800 to 3,160 feet. After Rainy, they will tackle the Dalzell Gorge as they make their way to Rohn. With only 35 miles separating the two checkpoints, the teams are unlikely to camp on the trail and will instead rest for 4-5 hours in Rohn.
Anna was featured in an Iditarod Insider video in Finger Lake, and she sounded good. The interviewer was overheard saying her dogs looked really good. She said the trail was nice, and they camped just before Skwentna as planned. It was calm and starry overnight. Earlier in the race, she found it funny, if not a bit weird, when someone yelled to her, "you're winning!" She could only think to herself, 'yeah, cuz I drew bib #4 and the race has only begun.'
Dog update: I'm thrilled to have Seeing Double's friend and Iditarod guru Jack as this year's Dropped Dog Correspondent. Anna dropped Timmy in Finger Lake and Bob Barker in Rainy (Kiwi is not going to be happy about leaving his bestie behind!). She also dropped a 2nd dog in Rainy, but I am awaiting confirmation of who. Kristy dropped Beatris in Finger Lake. Jack was just getting Timmy, Bob Barker, and Beatris back to the kennel in Knik. All 3 dogs are fine, having been dropped for minor wrist and shoulder soreness. As noted previously, Anna is now paired with 13 canine athletes and Kristy 15.
What about everything leading up to this point? The Ceremonial start on Saturday was great! All 3 teams had a great run with their respective Iditariders and whip-sled drivers. The weather was near perfect and the twins said the trail was really nice. We got the teams loaded up at the Campbell Airstrip, and Anna and I parted ways in one dog truck from Kristy and Andy in the other Seeing Double dog truck and a borrowed trailer. We each had a couple errands to run and were looking forward to rendezvousing back at the kennel and getting a jump start on all the last minute stuff that has to be done right before the restart. Anna and I were making our last stop when her phone rang... Ensue panicked look, Kristy informing us they had been in a multiple car accident, the truck was totaled, and our jump start had just fallen apart.
What could have been a disastrous situation, all things considered, ended up being a manageable lesson in adversity. Kristy, Andy, and the dogs were all rattled but fine. The airbags didn't deploy and the dogs seemed none the worse for their adventure. Kristy's race sled, secured on top of the dog truck, was not damaged. You can read a bit more about the accident on ADN.com. Fortunately, a vet was passing by at the time of the 9-car incident caused by wicked black ice and was able to confirm the pups seemed a-ok. Other friends and good Samaritans passing by had a conversion van, and were able to secure the dogs from the box on the truck (as it was totaled and not going anywhere) inside the van and tow the still-functional trailer containing the rest of their dog teams back to the kennel. Other friends gave Kristy and Andy themselves a ride back. Anna lobbed a call into a good friend and Yukon Quest competitor who came to the rescue with a back-up dog truck to tow the trailer with Kristy and Andy's teams to the restart the following morning. The trailer was checked to make sure it was indeed sound and reinforcements were made, sleds were packed, and maybe a couple hours of sleep was grabbed.
The Sunday morning trek to Willow Lake was uneventful, despite still questionable roads and upward of 10 moose sightings by yours truly. The remainder of the day was... quintessential Iditarod. The weather that caused the accident also left the trees glazed with ice, sparkling under a brilliant sun. Tiny snowflakes drifted through the air early in the morning, catching the sun and twinkling like tiny diamonds. The dogs were howling and clearly excited. I saw Anna off the start, made it back in time to wish Andy well, and then saw Kristy down to and then off the restart line. I gave an immense sigh of relief when Bib 20 raced out of sight.
And there you have it. Not quite the 'travel by map' made famous in Indiana Jones, and parodied in a Muppet movie, but then again ~ I warned you about the long-winded prose! Until tomorrow's update, enjoy a few photos. You can spot Kristy about 22 seconds in to this great video as well.