North Wapiti Iditarod 2000 Journal
Knik to Skwentna
This part of the trip, out of Knik, to Yentna and down the
river to Skwentna, is a familiar one for me Ive traveled it on the Knik 200,
Klondike 300 (twice) and the Goose Bay 120. But this time it has surprises! All along the
trail there are people that have traveled out by snowmachine to watch the Race go by.
Everyone is in a cheerful mood, yelling out good wishes, handing out cookies, coffee, and
chocolate. It is along here that I see the stress that 81 mushers could potentially put on
the Race the hotdog stand is out of hotdogs by the time I roll by!!
Jamie Nelson sailed by. My team managed to keep pace with her
for a bit and she and I had a nice little chat as we traveled down the trail. Many mushers
were stopped along the way, resting their dogs during the heat of the day. I had planned
on pushing through to Yentna Station, where I was going to take a 4 hour break, although
Jamie had mentioned she was going to take a similar break near Flathorn Lake, which is
about 25 miles before Yentna and that was a good option too.
As I came off of Flathorn into the trees that border it, many
teams, including Charlie Boulding, Russell Lane, Harold Tunhiem, Kevin Korteum and Jamie
were camped there. There was a little pull off next to Jamies team and Kevin grabbed
my leaders and helped steer them into the camping spot. After everyones chores were
done Jamie came over and we organized some comfy spots on my sled and settled in for a
visit and eventually a nap. As night fell the quiet was only disturbed by dog teams
occasionally passing by.
There is nothing quite like the sound of a team in motion.
Contrary to movie depictions, dogs are silent as they travel down the trail. The only
noise comes from the runners gliding on the snow and the jingling of snaps and hardware in
the gangline. Iditarod teams have their own special sound too. The small plastic Iditarod
ID tags that the dogs wear make noise against the rings of the collars and the brass
neckline snaps!! Its a soft and magical Iditarod symphony.
Jamies four-hour rest was over ½ hour before mine.
After a big struggle to get her snowhook off the tree she had anchored too (it took both
of us and a lot of sweating and muttering!), she was on her way. My trip to Yentna was
quiet and uneventful. I intended to blow (in other words not stop
at) the checkpoint and go straight through to Skwentna. The dogs are really familiar
with the Yentna checkpoint, as we have spent lots of time there on other races, and I was
a little worried that they would get mad or pouty when we didnt stop. We stopped,
checked in, the vet went through the team, I booted Oreo, and when I asked the dogs if
they were ready to go they roared out of the checkpoint. I guess my worries where
unfounded. The trip to Skwentna was the fastest trip I have ever had on that stretch of
trail. I rode on my drag and foot brake trying to keep the speed down.
we pulled into Skwentna the team was barking and lunging in their harnesses. The
vets were teasing me that I should just keep going they didnt need to
rest, but this was very early in the race and I wasnt going to tire them out this
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