Dropping In

3.12.11 Anvik temperature 8 a.m., 8 degrees F

3.13.11 Unalakleet 10 a.m., 5 degrees F, winds 5 mph 

Shageluk, Grayling, and Eagle Island—I dropped in on these three checkpoints briefly over one day. The principal/teacher’s daughters were bestowing rubs on Justin Savidis’ and Paul Johnson’s teams as they rested, in Justin’s case, or bootied up, in Paul’s case. Paul, who ran the Iditarod in 1986, headed for Anvik as we prepared to fly to Grayling. Paul is Middy Johnson’s brother and is running the team Middy ran last year. Ed Stielstra’s team came off the approximately mile-wide Yukon River into Grayling, past St. Paul’s Church, to rest for a while. Vets from New York and Maryland examined the dogs while Ed took off their booties and fed them. Eagle Island is not a village, but set up at a fish camp. The race volunteers here set up heated tents, a restroom (unheated), a checker’s tent, and the drop bags and straw for mushers. On the banks of the Yukon, also, this checkpoint is definitely a camping experience.