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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Iditarod 2004 - Tales from the Trail

Summer 2003

Eagle Island to Grayling

Looking back now, I can see the ‘wheels on the cart’ begin to rattle a little here in Eagle Island, but at the time I was jazzed by a solid run in and by all the excitement in the checkpoint.

With mushers heading in both directions here, I was awed to be hanging out around the likes of Martin Buser, Rick Swenson, and others.


After snacking my dogs I headed down to find my drop bags and got hung up playing spectator for a few minutes as I watched John Baker’s team come in, heading back to Kaltag. John was running a number of dogs that belong to Jamie Nelson, dogs that I had got to know while training with Jamie last fall, so I watched to see them and whispered a ‘Hello’ from the sidelines to her favorite dog. Charge furiously wagged his tail at the mention of his name.


One of the things I really like about John is how he always retains his manners and quiet, friendly demeanor out on the trail. Honestly, some mushers do fall apart with the lack of sleep and stress of racing. Not John, he is always so courteous to the volunteers and officials in the checkpoints. Very inspiring!


I got back to my team and got them all fed and bedded down for a nap. The comings and goings of so many teams didn’t seem to faze my guys at all and they napped well. Me – not so well. Eagle Island is definitely one of the more rustic checkpoints on the race – just a few tents set up on the ice of the Yukon. They had a couple tents for mushers to sleep in, but the wind was flapping around the tents, mushers were coming and going, and those that were sleeping were, mostly, snoring – it just didn’t look like a comfy place to crash, so I puttered around my team and hung out in the warm Checkpoint tent for the duration of my break. Early in the morning, after making several visits to the ‘outhouse’ (a small tent with a bucket and a toilet seat) because of an unsettled stomach, we headed down the river to Grayling.


There were lots of other teams on the river, both coming and going. My team moved steady, although not as solidly has their run yesterday. I had been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to go straight through to Grayling, or whether to take a break out on the trail. The wind had been blowing all morning, but the sun beat down on us too! When I came to a sheltered spot about 20 miles from the Checkpoint and found several other teams camped there, I decided to do the same. In hindsight, I think I should have pushed on – but run and learn!!!


After getting the dogs settled in, I had to make an emergency climb up the riverbank to find a little privacy. I was glad that this camping spot offered that option. My stomach was still really unsettled.


To pass the time I read my book some, napped a bit, visited with other mushers I was camped with and a few heading back the other direction.


Jim Gallea had worked out a nice run/rest schedule that he and a few others were going to stick to for the rest of the river. He asked if I’d like to travel with them. I thanked him for the offer, but declined, as I felt the best routine for my Siberians was a bit different then their plan.


Around 4 in the afternoon we hit the trail again. Unfortunately, it was not with tremendous enthusiasm, in fact, it was with very little enthusiasm. I was somewhat puzzled, as the dogs should have come back strong after their rest - maybe it was the heat. I put my foot down on the drag track to get their minds back on their jobs and tried not to be too discouraged.


I was glad to finally head up the bank into the friendly village of Grayling!

Karen's Diary - 2004 Edition

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