Anna and Kristy are currently resting in Rohn, race mile 188, after pulling into this checkpoint minutes before midnight. We last left them out of Skwentna and on the trail to Finger Lake. As I expected, they only spent a few minutes each in the checkpoint itself to resupply before mushing 12 miles further to camp trailside on the Happy River.
The Iditarod Insider caught up with Seeing Double while they were camping out and posted a video to Iditarod.com. For those that aren't Insiders, allow me to sum it up... The sun was shining, the breeze floating the tail ends of their braids around was reportedly the worst on offer from Mother Nature at the moment. Their 2 hour stop in Yentna was the first time they had stayed in that checkpoint, but after the snowy run to that point, it was worth it to give the dogs a hot snack and good rest in straw beds. The trail started to set up after Yentna - it was harder and they started to move better. The Happy River steps were apparently "super easy" according to Anna, and they just "floated down." In the past, the last of the steps was a real doozy, and it was something of an Iditarod right of passage to successfully mush it. A few years back, though, the trail committee started smoothing it out, so that today the last step is "basically just a big ramp." Anna smirked when she said she just made it into the club that experienced it old school before it was changed.
The dogs all looked really good in the video, either bounding down the steps or happily resting or snacking in their makeshift camp. The twins spoke briefly about their dog teams. Anna started saying how she thought Kristy's team was a little faster than her's, but then they both hedged that a bit, saying the teams really kind of operate in cycles. While the twins cannot change out dogs between their two teams, they can work together to make going down the trail easier on both. When Kristy's team seems a bit more charged up, she'll lead the way. When Anna's team has more steam, they lead. It helps keep twins and dogs motivated, they can provide each other moral support and advice, and frankly it's just fun.
After parting ways with the Insider, the twins mushed on and up to Rainy Pass, the highest point on the Iditarod trail at 3,160 feet. They again paused only to resupply and were on the trail again Monday night before 7:30pm, starting down the other side of the Alaska Range by headlamp. On this 35 mile stretch they would have tackled the Dalzell Gorge, a 200-foot cliff not too far from Rohn.
The fact that they ran from the Happy River camp outside of Finger Lake basically straight through to Rohn is on track with the plan they had laid out, and I expect them to hit the trail again out of Rohn any minute. It is a roughly 75 mile stretch from Rohn to Nikolai, and I would expect to see their GPS trackers stop about 35 miles in at Buffalo Camp for a late breakfast siesta of about 2 hours. Then they planned to mush the rest of the way to Nikolai, race mile 263, where they'll finally rest again in checkpoint for about 5 hours.
Your Mad Blogger is heading to one of her favorite places on earth, Bear Creek Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, for a few hours today, but I'll check back in on things later. The temptation is to remain glued to my screens, but with 9+ days and over 750 miles to go, I need to pace myself. Just like the mushers!
Here are some screen grabs of the Iditarod Insider video outside of Finger Lake to help tide you over if you couldn't watch it directly.