Sitting here in the schoolhouse in the remote village of Nikolai, I have time to catch my breath, connect to wifi, and share some experiences from the last few days with everyone.
I spent most of my time at the Willow start in the woods taking great pictures of the dog teams as they headed out on the frozen lake to Yentna. Before the race began, I had my backpack outfitted with my very own Teacher on the Trail™ GPS tracker. Emily Krol, a dedicated Iditarod communications volunteer, helped me prepare my tracker. I had great fun with Emily during the Jr. Iditarod when she served as a race judge, and it was wonderful to see her again. For the race, they are placed in a dog bootie and pinned to the musher’s sled, and in my case, my backpack. I was live!
The Willow Community Center was full of excitement and anticipation as people moved up and down the lake to find the best spot for the race start. I used my special Teacher on the Trail™ badge to access the mushers and their teams behind the scenes. It was a great opportunity to say hello to mushers who have helped me share the Iditarod with classrooms around the world.
I walked around and saw so many unique types of sled design. I had to snap some photos of these great STEM examples. Some had seats for mushers with storage underneath, and some even had a caboose in the back for dogs to rest. The engineering behind the sleds was unique to each musher and what they need for the trail.
I headed out past the the start sign and into the woods for a great view of the action. I was joined by my Texas teacher friends who were presenters at the Iditarod Winter Conference for Educators.
Erin Kreiger and Cathi Brown and I were up close and personal with the mushers and their teams. We heard chants and yells of support first before we saw the lead dogs come running behind the trees towards us. You could hear their gentle pitter patter of paws on the trail, and with their tongues wagging, they set out for the lake with waving fans along the way.
Check out some video clips to share with your classes from the Willow start. Can your students name the musher?
What’s next? I jumped on a plane to the Skwentna checkpoint. My Iditarod adventure continues…