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Race Day 2
March 3, 2002
Denali, the view from our room
How are all of you? Did you enjoy reading about the start of the race? It was so very exciting. Today was the re-start, but also the day I started my journey following the trail by bush plane.
Mr. Holmes and I spent last night at the Talkeetna Lodge. What a beautiful place. The picture above was the view out of our window! Thatís Mt. McKinley! There was such a gorgeous sunrise. The mountains were cast in a beautiful shade of pink.
The re-start of the race was very different than yesterdayís start. At the start there were thousands of fans, but at the re-start, there were more like hundreds. Today the mushers begin to get timed. I sat right at the starting line so I could watch each of the mushers as they said goodbye to their families and got words of encouragement.
Martin gets a hug
Hereís Al, I hope he doesnít lose Nikki
or all of you off the sled!
After the start Mr. Holmes brought me to the plane. I canít tell you how nervous I was. I cried when I got onto the plane, but not because I was nervous. I think the tears were similar to tears that one cries at a wedding, tears of excitement and being overwhelmed with emotion.
Mr. Holmes and I posing with the pilot, Bill Bear
I learned quickly that small planes are different from big planes. One gets an amazing view, but also incredible motion sickness! From the air we searched for teams of dogs. We saw so many of the teams. It took us about an hour to get to the Skwentna checkpoint. It sits right on the Skwentna river.
The Skwentna checkpoint from above before the teams arrived.
The checkpoint once the teams were bedded down
This is the cabin where the mushers can come in to eat or sleep. It has a big open room downstairs and two bunkrooms upstairs. Many of the mushers came in to have a hot meal.
The mushers were served beef stew, bread, and gingerbread with whipped cream. Here are the furs that Joe Delia trapped. Heís the owner of the checkpoint. Arenít they amazing! Remember that this is the way of life here in Alaska.
Wolverine, wolf, and fox pelts
The first musher into the checkpoint was DeeDee Jonrowe. She must have sprouted wings because she flew to the checkpoint. She moved from thirty-first place to first in this first section of the race. It took her just over eight hours. Iím going to show you a series of pictures to help you better understand what a musher does when he or she arrives.
The musher stops and signs in with the checker and then gets the dog food from the food lot, which is in alphabetical order by musherís last name.
Food that was sent to the checkpoint before the race started is picked up by the mushers when they arrive.
The musher gets a bale of hay and parks the team. The hay is put down for each of the dogs. Then they sit and wait for their dinner.
Patiently waiting for their dinner
The dogs get one clip unhooked that attaches them to the gangline so they can move around a little bit. Next the musher gets buckets of hot water from a hot water tub and adds food to the buckets to soften the frozen meat.
DeeDee adds food to the boiling water
DeeDee scoops food into the bowls
The dogs are fed, booties are removed, and ointment is applied to their paws.
DeeDee puts ointment on their paws to prevent cuts and sores
Once the dogs are fed they curl into a little ball and fall asleep in the hay. This is when the mushers come in and get a warm meal for themselves. Pies are offered while the mushers are outside. They were baked in an outside propane oven by a group of men who are referred to as "The Darlings." They are volunteers.
Jeff King eagerly accepted a piece of steaming hot pie
Meals inside the cabin are prepared by a group of women called "The Sweeties." Some mushers will nap wherever they can find a spot in the cabin, like on the floor, sitting upright on a chair, or on the beds upstairs. Others nap on or next to their sleds.
Iím sure you are wondering about the race too. After DeeDee arrived, there were about ten teams who came in soon after. Martin Buser, Jeff King, Linwood Fiedler, Vern Halter, Harald Tunheim, Charlie Boulding, Rick Swenson, and Lance Mackey are some that I can remember. Every musher went through a similar routine, always starting with feeding their dogs to give them energy, and to be sure they ate before they took a nap.
Would like like to hear some exciting tidbits about my stay there? DeeDee plopped herself down right next to me to eat her supper and Martin told a story about his kids. Nils Hahn was a sweetie and let me pat all of his dogs while he changed their booties. They just melted into my arms. I think my rubbing their muscles was heavenly for them. Many mushers seemed to head on and not even stop, Lance Mackey being one of them. Harald Tunheim sprained his ankle pretty badly at the banquet. Heís been limping ever since. I heard that Burt Bomhoff scratched because he realized his dogs just werenít prepared this year. G.B. Jones took a wrong turn, but I saw him at the checkpoint so no need to worry.
I guess that is all for today. I hope you enjoy hearing about the race!
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