Skwentna to Finger Lake
I know that some mushers charge for their Iditarod journals or only tell the tales in books, but I feel so much gratitude and thanks to all of you
who support and follow our adventures that I think I owe all of you these stories.
As you read these entries, I ask you all to remember that none of it could have happened without the support and interest of each one of you.
Please never underestimate how thankful I am.
I've seen the trail from Skwentna to Finger Lake be a lovely, enjoyable trip through some beautiful wilderness - and I've seen it rutted and super challenging. This year it was pretty fun.
The trail out of Skwentna follows the river for a bit then crosses a series of swamps. Other mushers are often camped in the shelter of the portages, which makes things more interesting for all. Sometimes the mushers will call out a greeting, sometimes nods will be exchanged and sometimes the camping musher is wrapped up in a sleeping bag, oblivious to passing teams.
The snow was pretty deep crossing the swamps, and the trail was narrow with big banks on the side. The odd track crossing the trail got me thinking that this would really not be a good spot to run into a moose and they were obviously in the area. The early morning dusk can make trees appear like a variety of things, including big, hulking herbivores. I doubled checked to make sure my gun was within easy reach - it was.
The team was moving great and I continued to just have an enjoyable run. Once it was fully light, a few odd planes buzzed overhead on their way into Finger Lake.
A few partiers were left at the legendary One Stone Lake bonfire and they kindly called out to warn me about a nasty little rut just ahead. I waved and called out thanks.
The deep snow continued and passing became pretty tricky. That isn't much of a problem later on in the race, but this early, teams were still juggling position. No big problem though,
as debatingeveryone was still in good spirits and even the tangles and passing messes were cheerfully sorted out.
As we got closer to Finger Lake it got REALLY warm out. I even debated stopping and camping on the trail for a bit and then running right through Finger Lake, but I didn't have my supplies set up to do that.
I always misjudge the distance into Finger Lake. There is a small, oddly shaped mountain peak and I know the checkpoint is behind that landmark, but despite having been on that trail 5 times now, I can't get it into my head that it is still about 8 miles from there to the Lake.
The team was moving in the heat without a lot of oomph now, but finally we dropped onto Finger Lake and worked our way around the edge and into the checkpoint.
Teams were coming, going and passing right through despite the afternoon heat. I was surprised to see Lance Mackey pulling out with his enthusiastic team as I did my chores. I expected all those 'players' to be into Rainy Pass by now.
The heat was very reminiscent of last year and I was hoping like crazy that the rest of the race wouldn't be like '05!! I went up to the checkpoint to eat, but just wasn't very hungry, so guzzled a bunch of water instead. I was very tired and I tried to lie down in the musher's tent for awhile, but it seemed colder in there
than outside in the sun, so I went back and puttered around my sled
Finally, the four-hour rest I had scheduled for myself was up and we headed into the heart of the Alaska Range.