Monday, February 12, 2007

2007 Yukon Quest from Pelly Crossing

Been meaning to write for ages now but with no sleep and being busy this is my first chance.

The start went really well. Hugh's sporting a new sled. Its a sprint sled with a cooler and basket on the back. He's been using a form of it this year and he really likes it. He finds by sitting more, ski-poling instead of kicking he's more rested when he arrives at checkpoints to look after dogs and the sled rides better. He left #19. He wanted a late number so this number is good. The teams tend to bunch up anyway, but the earlier teams have to stay longer in Dawson. After the start Laura and I went home, packed up the truck for Dawson, fed the dogs at home and I cut my finger doing dishes! We drove back to town to help Jeremie at the Quest 300 start. He's taking a team of our dogs in this race. They're part of Hugh's Iditarod team. The dogs in this race are: Annie, Colby, Flame, Wonka, Bogart, Molly, Preacher, Holly, Shyela, Zuril, Snow, and Lefty. Hugh's team is: Walter, Watson, Nova, Omen, June-Mari, Blaze, Hans, Storm, Titan, Maestro, Mahoosic, Blondie, Scotty, Darkie.

After the 300 start we headed up to Braeburn. Hugh arrived about 20 minutes after I did in record time. He trains this section of the trail. The dogs were pumped up and knew where the checkpoint was so he decided to take it easy this first section, stopping to play with dogs and give them snacks along the way. He stayed in Braeburn 6 hours. This way he could leave at 3am and give him a good run in the early morning hours before the sun rose. He said he would shut them down if the sun got too hot. Turns out he stopped 7 miles short of Carmacks right as the sun came up. He rested another 6 hours and set off when the sun started to set. While Hugh was running this section of trail I had to drive back home to take Laura home so she can look after our dogs there. I slept for half an hour on the couch and then took the truck all the way to Carmacks. I wasn't sure of his plans. If he went straight through he'd be there around noon. Lance showed up around 1:30. I watched and waited all afternoon and then as predicted he arrived right at 5pm. The dogs looked amazing!!! I wish you could see it. All 14 dogs jumping, barking, howling, screaming. Covered in frost 'cause of the cold air. Hugh opened his drop bags and filled his sled. He dropped Walter because his urine was a bit dark and he didn't want to risk his young leader. He's doing well now - eating and drinking good. I led the team out to the ramp to the river and they were gone.

A couple hours later Jeremy's team arrived looking in good spirits. I stayed to watch them for awhile and then headed on to McCabe. Hugh had already arrived. He was fretting about what to do. He had been told that there would be straw and then there wasn't. His plan was to stay there for 4 hours and then go through Pelly to Stepping Stone. Without straw he wasn't sure what to do. He put all their jackets on and put all his spare clothes on the ground for the dogs. At 4 hours, Lance went through so Hugh followed 10 minutes behind. I saw them both alongside the highway as I drove to Pelly. Lance was 3 km ahead. I arrived in Pelly to darkness. I had a note to inform the checker of Lance and Hugh's McCabe out times so they could be ready but no one was around. An hour later, media crew arrived and they roused the checker. It seemed like the vets and officials arrived only just before the teams. Lance arrived around 20 minutes before Hugh. Blondie was stiff and was pulling back on the run so she arrived in the sled. He left her with me. It took him about an hour to load his sled, feed the dogs, and eat himself. I haven't heard any updates from Stepping Stone. William and Gerry both went through when they arrived at Pelly 2.5 hours later. Well that's it for now. I'm off to Dawson!