Nathan’s in Nikolai

Nathan made it into Nikolai about 3:06pm.  He arrived with a smile still on his face!  He’s the second rookie in to Nikolai – and is still my pick for rookie of the year!

It’s been a rough trail in.  Allen Moore describe the trail by saying, “I broke three stanchions on my sled and I only had two to start with!”  Everyone who has arrived has had a story to tell, a sled to repair, and clothes to air out.  Nathan says he took the worst of it with the tug lines off of all but four of his dogs, so that only four dogs were really puling the sled, and he still couldn’t stop them!  He says his sled tipped and dragged a few times.  When he pulled his sleeping bag out of his drag sled it was covered in dirt!  Dirt!  Not something you expect to see on the Iditarod Trail in the middle of winter!  His back sled was pretty beat up. The top rail is broken, but he was able to repair it pretty well, so we will hope for the best.  Nathan kind of just kept shaking his head about the trail.  He asked other mushers around him if it was always that bad – most said part of it is always bad, but not that bad!  I think there is a little air of remorse that the year he finally made his dream come true to run the Iditarod is the year the trail is this bad! He is planning to stay here for about six hours to grab some sleep and then head on down the trail.  The good news is that he found his watch in his sled bag!  He also managed to find another musher’s vet book!  He said, “He must have wiped out in the same place I did!”  He turned the found book into the vets who reunited it with its very grateful owner!

Katherine Keith has moved out, but not on the sled she arrived on!  Her sled was damaged so badly on the trail that it was beyond repair.  There is an allowance in the rules that lets a musher get another sled from a musher who is in the race with their permission.  So, what happened is that when Katherine arrived with her broken sled, she talked to Martin Buser.  He had an extra sled shipped here and then decided he didn’t need it, so he let Katherine use his sled.  There are several deals like that happening. Curt Perrano cracked a runner on his sled.  He thinks he can make it to Takotna where he is planning to take his twenty-four hour rest.  Ray Redington, Jr. has a sled waiting for him there.  So when he gets to Takotna and changes sleds, he has told Curt he can use the sled is is leaving behind.  I think it’s really awesome how the mushers help each other out even though they are in competition with each other.

And mushers aren’t the only ones cooperating!  Jeff Schultz, the official photographer for the race is here in Nikolai, but his laptop is in another checkpoint grounded due to bad weather.  So the Alaska Dispatch photographer who is here too has been sharing his computer with Jeff so he can edit and post his pictures!

Not sure what my next move is… I’m on the board to fly out , but not sure when that will happen!  It’s kind of surreal to sit here in the school cafeteria and watch the mushers roll in and tell each other their stories.  It seems like it will be like this all night long….  and the stories are endless.