“… make sure you leave something (such as food) for the Old Woman when you leave. You don’t want her ghost chasing you to Nome and throwing bad luck your way.” From Don Bower’s Trail Notes http://iditarod.com/about/the-iditarod-trail/
So much of the Iditarod Trail is the history. With that history come the stories of the people of the trail and of the people who have perhaps never left the trail. Mushers tell stories of seeing other mushers and teams dressed in old clothing and hearing cheers along the trail. In addition to the actual ghost towns the trail passes through like Ophir and Iditarod, are the stories of the ghost of the Old Woman on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet.
There are versions of the Old Woman legend according to an article published in the Alaska Dispatch (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/ghosts-alaskas-iditarod-trail). One version tells of a woman who died in an avalanche as a result of a curse for doing men’s work on a mountain used by men as a hunting lookout. Another version says that the woman and her husband were trappers who lived in the area long ago and were caught in an avalanche. The woman was buried and her husband, refusing to leave her, eventually died on the mountain as well.
One of my favorite things to do at this time of year when I taught fifth grade was to challenge the boys to write ghost stories that were set along the trail. They could set them in one of the Gold Rush turned Ghost Towns found on the trail or along a lonely section of the trail like where the Old Woman cabin is found between Kaltag and Unalakleet.
I would love to share some of your students’ stories in the Student Tales section of the website!