Yukon Quest part 3

Out of Dawson my sled was packed for 1 camping. Exactly half way to Eagle, a stretch of 100 miles (160km) lays 40 mile cabin. A small cabin along the river, opened for the race and operated by a young couple from Dawson. This would come to be a special checkpoint for me. For the first time in the race, we were so spread out, that I arrived to an empty checkpoint (Scott Smith went straight through all the way to Eagle), and it took a few hours before the next musher arrived. This I really enjoyed, as I could take care of my dogs in peace and quiet. My team was parked right outside the door of the cabin, so it was only a few steps from my sled, to the warm cabin. Inside I was greeted welcome, and offered some delicious warm beef stew, together with coffee and a bunch of cookies. No other musher around still, so we had a peaceful conversation about this and that, before I retreated to a bed in the corner. As Abbie West arrived a couple hours later I awoke, but just stayed in bed and listened to there conversation. Abbie had some problems with here cooker which had filled with ice, so it wouldn't light properly. As I later got up, she went out to feed her dogs, and Hans Gatt's girlfriend, Susan Rogan came in. Some more small talk, coffee and cookies before I got out to my dogs. As I bootied up, Norman Cassavant pulled in next to me, a musher I would see more of later in the race. We shared a few words before I pulled the hook and headed for Eagle.


40 mile - Eagle

The run to Eagle is all continuing on the Yukon River. I remember listening to Johnny Cash as I skipoled down the trail, and eating some delicious "Kvikk Lunsj" I had gotten sent from Norway (A Norwegian chocolate similar to Kit Kat, just way better!). The trail is here pretty boring, and you are coming back and forth across the river, depending on where the ice is good. I had been in Eagle before, as we descended the notorious American Summit in the Top of the World 350 race around New Years. Even though the Quest checkpoint was held in a different part of town, I still felt I was headed into a familiar place, out of the unknown for a short period. Towards the end I would look at my gps every 20 minutes or so, to see how much closer we had gotten. A few miles before Eagle, we crossed the border. Flags and a sign declared that we now entered Alaska. I congratulated the dogs on that feat and we spead up into the checkpoint.

Again, the checkpoint was empty and I could easily pull into the big dog lot and park wherever I wanted. Straw down, booties off. As I cooked up a meal, the veterinarians at the checkpoint completed the mandatory check, after leaving Dawson. No big issues, and the vet that had checked my team in Dawson, gave me a clap on the shoulder and said they looked great, and I had done a good job working on some issues I had coming into Dawson. This was really nice to hear, and I was in a extra good mood as I later entered the checkpoint for some food and sleep. "Pick what you want from the menu, Ill make you whatever you want" says one of the voluntaries as I enter. "Oh, great, ill have a burrito for starters" is my answer, before I throw in cookies and all kind of goodies. Well fed, I retreat to the sleeping area for some good sleep.
As I get up later, Abbie is just about to go to sleep, and Susan Rogen (driving Hans Gatt's team) has apparently just gotten in and is being interviewed by the radio as she tries to get some food. I now notice a note on the chalk board, it gives some details of a cabin that is open halfway between Eagle and Slavens. They have hot water and coffee. "YAY!" Is my response, I will get a warm place to sleep. Leaving Eagle is the last stretch in the race were your sled is packed heavy for camping. I'm carrying food and snacks for two stops, one at this Trout Creek cabin, and one stop at Slavens hospitality stop. The next official checkpoint is Circle City, a good ways down river.

Eagle - Trout Creek Cabin

I leave the checkpoint in the dark, and is quickly back on the Yukon River. I'm lucky, and get treated to a beautiful show of Northern lights as we run down the river, and leave Eagle behind. The river, well, it is a river, just as I've been travelling on for the last days now. Easy to get sleepy on such a trail. I do my best to stay awake and keep the speed up. I'm not able to remember to many details from this trail though. After some time I get to a small sign "Trout creek cabin", that must be my resting place. I "haw!" my dogs off the main trail and onto the trail leading to the cabin. After some zig zagging in the bush, we arrive. Again, checkpoint empty. I hook the dogs down, booties and straw undone and put down, then I take my big water pot into the cabin. The guy is sleeping, but wakes up and welcomes me. I help myself to the dog water on the stove, and gets back to the dogs as quickly as I can. The meal gets cooked as I walk back and forth to keep warm, it's a cold morning in the Alaskan interior.

Back in the cabin I make some chicken curry from my sponsor Eldorado, and a cup of warm coffee. The guy gives me the updates, Jake following Brent Sass at some distance (or was it the other way around?). The leaders was here about a day before me, at that point I believe Hugh Neff arrived before Allan Moore, and Allan also banked a bit more rest, before he continued the chase of the defending champion. This update received, the conversation continues on to the man himself. I notice an accent in his voice, and he proves to be German. He moved to Alaska many years ago, and lived in this cabin as a trapper for many years in the 70's(?). Now he lives in Fairbanks (?) and took plane and snow machine out here solely to support the race. A great guy! Retreating to the loft, I get some sleep before its back out to the dogs. Abbie takes over my bed as I leave, and as I bootie the Susan Rogan and Norman Cassavant duo pulls in. I begin to fear if this Norman guy can do something scary. Therefor I make sure to tighten my lobens as tight as possible, before leaving. I'm gonna kick and run all what I'm worth.

Trout Creek - Slavens

Another run without to much detail, and a lot of river running. We get treated to a bunch of pai plate signs along the trail, wich I though was great fun. Phrases as "you can do it", "Go doggies go", "you can't stop now, you are so close" is placed out along the trail. As we close up on Slavens cabin it gets really cold, I don't know how cold, but later they say it was the coldest it got on the race. The wind also picks up. I take on everything I got of clothing, and kicks to keep warm. I give out a big cheer as I see the sign "Slavens Hospitality Stop - 1 mile", and I thank the dogs for yet again doing the job with such awesomeness. Arriving at the checkpoint I take them by surprise, I wasn't expected there for at least an hour. Apparently my spot tracking unit was maybe not working, and I had run the distance from Trout creek faster than Jake and Brent. The race judge noticed me pull in mostly by accident, as he had gone out to pee. I'm tired and cold, I do my dog care as efficient as possible, and get inside. What a nice place! I get a super good ham and cheese sandwich, thinking about it my mouth still gets filled with water and I instantly get hungry. I eat until I can't eat anymore, and drink until I can't possibly drink much more. As I do this, I overhear an interesting conversation between the veterinary and some of the volunteers. They had worked on Greenland, and several places in the arctic doing bird studies. They serve some, probably very interesting facts about some bird only hatching at some specific place, or something like that. The details slip my mind now though..

Well fed and humoured by interesting conversations I crawl to bed.