It won't stay that way. A series of storms are expected to move across Alaska, with some warnings and advisories already being issued in western regions of the state. And mushers already expect temps to drop and winds to pick up as they get past Rohn and make their way into the interior.
Brief interviews of the twins on the Iditarod Insider showed them in good spirits and intent on their racing. They both commented on how nice the trail was this year, particularly the Happy River steps. Kristy thought she might finally get to see the Dalzell Gorge in the daylight. And I'm sure this 200 foot plunge as one finally finishes descending the western side of the Alaska Range presents quite a view when one is navigating by more than fading twilight or headlamp.
Kristy did drop one dog in Skwentna, yearling Mayhem, and our dropped dog correspondent (DDC) Aaron already has her home safe and sound at the kennel. She was dropped for a sore left shoulder that was likely as much of a precautionary measure on Kristy's part for a young pup as anything else. She's doing a-ok and enjoying some extra salmon steaks.
Speaking of dogs, Anna and one of her main leaders Quintes is featured as Monday's Dog of the Day on KTVA. You can view it here. And it sounds like musher Linwood Fiedler had a close call out there when his main gang line broke away from his sled and his dog team went mushing on without him! Fortunately, friend and fellow competitor Mats Pettersson came along not too long after and gave him a ride until they caught up with the runaway team. That's a story that will be told and retold for years to come, I'm sure. As will the tale of the ambitious village dog in Finger Lake, who caught sight of a couple teams and decided, what the heck - I'll tag along. This cutie ran the full 30 miles all the way to Rainy Pass along with them, and seemed none the worse off for the jaunt. He'll be flown back from whence he came with some good bragging rights on the other village dogs.
No mushers have been flown home yet, with all 52 teams still moving along the trail. Beyond that, I'm not paying a great deal of attention to each musher's position. Yet. In the hours and immediate days ahead, mushers will begin to declare and take the 24 rest that is mandatory at one point along the trail. This break also allows officials to adjust departure times and equalize the 2-minute interval team launch used at the start (can't penalize the 52nd musher 102 minutes simply for pulling the last number). Mushers can "24" in any checkpoint although the majority do sometime around the 3rd day. This leads to a lot of leap-frogging of positions at this point in the race.
Anna and Kristy have been moving along the trail together and are making their way to McGrath. Expect them to camp in checkpoint for 5 hours or so before pulling the hook and hitting the trail for Takotna. They planned to stop there only to resupply before pushing on to Ophir, race mile 352, and declaring their 24.
Here are a few pics I've found from so far in the race. Click to launch the gallery and captions.