Well, at least 64 mushers are doing that. An additional musher, Scott White, scratched in Takotna, bringing the number out of the race to 3. The back of the pack is all out of Ophir (race mile 352) and GPS has the leaders around mile 600 between Eagle Island and Kaltag. They could wave at each other across the southern loop. But as the trail runs, teams are now spread across 216 miles.
Mother nature has decided it's time to remind all involved that she has a loud say in most everything that goes on. Mushers and snowmachiners came into the checkpoints of Iditarod and Shageluk with reports of high winds and blowing snow; 2-6" of fresh base snow before the drifts that ate the trail, forcing many teams to break their own paths; and blizzard-like conditions. The weather got so bad at the Eagle Island checkpoint, midway along the Yukon River run, that the Iditarod was forced to reclassify it as a "hospitality point", somewhere mushers can drop a dog, seek veterinary advice, or rest briefly, but not an official stop and thus no resupplying. Teams will have to be loaded for 122 miles of trail when they pull out of Grayling and make the river run to Kaltag.
That is something Anna will be doing soon, at least, as of this writing. She arrived in Grayling, race mile 530, at 9:42am Saturday morning. She was reported in 30th place. We last left her on the way to Iditarod. She spent 1 minute shy of 14 hours on that stretch of trail, ahead of my estimate. She took a 5 hour rest there Friday morning before hitting the trail to Shageluk, where she declared and took the 8hr rest that is required at some point along this portion of trail. Probably an easy decision for her, as it made for an even run/rest against the 8 1/2 hours she had spent on the trail. She was out of Shageluk a little before 4am Saturday morning and spent nearly all of the next 6 hours moving along the trail.
Kristy and Andy, as expected, were out of Ophir a few hours after Anna late Thursday. I also expected them to take longer on the long stretch of trail to Iditarod, but perhaps not 4 hours longer than Anna. Be that as it may, 18hrs 18min later, they arrived in Iditarod Friday afternoon, stayed for a little over 6 hours, and then pulled their snow hooks for Shageluk, where they arrived in 39th and 40th place between 8:30 and 9:30am Saturday morning. It wouldn't surprise me if they took the daytime hours here on Saturday to check off their own 8hr rests.
Update 1 on the dogs ~ when Iditarod first reported Anna out of Ophir, they did not show her dropping any dogs, and I reported as such. They later amended the site to show she dropped one dog. She has been traveling the trail with 12 amazing dogs since Ophir. Kristy dropped 2 dogs in Ophir while Andy dropped 3, leaving them with 13 and 12 dogs in front of their respective sleds. Our DDC Jack is meeting a flight in Anchorage today with many, if not all, of the 6 dogs we're anticipating back at the kennel. I'll be sure to report back with details as soon as I have them!
I know we're long past Valentine's day, but if you have a soft spot for a bit of romance, check out the story on how Kristy and Andy met on ADN.com. Don't worry, it's entirely Rated G (for gushing grin or gag, your call!).
Here are a few great photos to tide you over until my next posts, which will be forthcoming over the rest of the weekend.
Hope you're having a good one!