Well, I REALLY got on the trail this weekend and have just now returned! Sorry for my absence.
The Junior Iditarod was definitely an experience that will take far more than one or two posts to cover, but I will give it a start. The kids, the dogs, the weather, the amazing spirit of volunteerism all worked so seamlessly that it is a wonder that we cannot do this well at other things, but that is another post. I am suffering from a time warp caused by being snowed in for almost three days which is an experience unique in and of itself, but again that is another post. One that I will get to work on as soon as I finish this one.
Let’s go back and start at the beginning . . . Eleven young mushers, one hundred nine dogs, a warm blizzard (according to this Californian) that grounded airplanes, stuck snow machines and some dog sleds alike made for an eventful weekend. The field of mushers was pretty evenly divided with five girls and six boys, four out of state mushers and seven Alaskans.
Junior mushers started arriving around 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening at Yentna Station which is the half way point for the race. They seemed to be traveling pretty closely together on that first day. Mushers check in, pick up their food drop bags, straw and HEET for cooking and are guided to their parking spots for a required ten hour layover before returning to Willow Lake and the finish line. The dogs all had hot meals cooked by their mushers, but when I asked them what they were eating I got answers like “Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and chips.” I guess teenagers are similar everywhere.
Seventy-five miles each way, the juniors travel 150 miles with only the company of their dogs. This year there was a lot of monitoring by snow machines as the number of moose has been so high. The first day the traveling was great and the weather as the checkers, vet, doctors and other support staff flew into Yentna Station was beautiful, but as night came so did the bad weather. The first in to Yentna was Ben Lyon followed very closely by Conway Seavey.
As the mushers began leaving around 3:30 in the morning, the snow was already building up making the trail very soft and punchy. The arrival in Willow was in reverse order with Conway Seavey arriving only a minute before Ben Lyon. The finishing order was
1. Conway Seavey
2. Ben Lyon
3. Ben Harper
4. Jesse Klejka
5. Jenny Gregor
6. Chelsea Davis
7. Bailey Vitello
8. Alyana Ferraro
9. Mattie Cobb
10. Abigail Brooks
I would like to tell you all how the Junior Banquet went after the young mushers were in, but I was snowed in in Yentna until Tuesday afternoon and missed all of the festivities. Hopefully someone will fill me in.
There is so much more to say, but for the moment I need a little shut-eye. I will be back with more in the morning.
Finally truly on the trail with Rookie.