It sounds like trail conditions were a bit wicked over the long Yukon River stretch, covering roughly 120 miles from Anvik to Kaltag with 2 checkpoints along the way. If you catch any musher interviews on the Insider, you'll hear a few words repeatedly ~ rain and wet! Aliy reported being "soaking wet" when she stopped to camp her dogs in the afternoon sun outside of Kaltag, with air temps around 25 degrees F. It sounds like temps are finally dropping a bit, though, and with the twins making the 60+ mile run from Eagle Island to Kaltag late on Sunday, hopefully more open water will have frozen over. After reaching Kaltag and resting for what I guess will be 6-8 hours, the twins will load up their sleds for the 85 mile run on to Unalakleet. Expect a 4-5 hour camp out along the way at Old Woman Cabin. The run to Unalakleet could be more challenging, with earlier reports of constant winds at 20-30mph and overblown trail.
It's been a little tough on folks in all aspects of the race over the last day or so. A nasty storm blowing in from the Bearing coast brought high winds, grounding planes at some checkpoints. Reaching Eagle Island and Kaltag with dog food was not an option for a period of time, and mushers were encouraged to carry more dog food with them from earlier stops. Lance Mackey lost a tooth and is suffering what sounds like some pretty nasty frostbite on one toe. One of his dogs was flown out of a checkpoint in critical condition (although is now reported as improving). Newton Marshall is still trying to reunite with his loose dog May, although she was spotted a couple times in a localized area which is very promising. Gary Willomitzer is also reported as having a loose dog.
Dogs dropped through Unalakleet are still being flown back to Anchorage. Sandi's last trip into Anchorage to pick up dogs was met with 126 additions overall, an overwhelming site. Kudos to Kare and all the folks working at Iditarod headquarters for running things so smoothly. From Kristy's team, we know she's dropped Porky and we now have confirmation that Beatrice is resting comfortably at Sandi's, after being dropped for not eating. She's on antibiotics and wolfing down all her meals. We knew Anna had dropped Foxie previously, and can now confirm Skwentna's addition to the list, as well as Stormy. All of her dogs are recovering nicely. I should get an update in the near future on Kristy's other two, and Anna's other three, dropped dogs. All of the twins' dogs currently in Sandi's care will soon be headed back to their home kennels on the Kenai peninsula.
Here are some great shots from out on the trail to wrap up your weekend, and be sure to check out a recent posting on the pace of this year's race.