Pete and the Team arrived into Kaltag at 6:16pm after a bit of a soft slow trail into the last Iditarod Checkpoint on the Yukon. Nulato to Kaltag is 47 miles. Just about the same distance from Tuluksak to Kalskag, so it is a good run.
Weather Cam photos are the spitting image of the ones earlier today– Snow and low ceilings. Warm temps and dead calm. In the background of the live cam you can hear water running somewhere (!!)
Pete has an 8 hour mandatory layover here. This will be the longest break he’s had since Takotna and as he prepared to feed the Team, you could see he was a bit tired. Some food, some rest, and some quiet is what the Team needs right now.
Richie Diehl, who had been at the front of the pack for a good long time ran into the same dogs in heat issue that plagued Pete earlier in the race. He decided to give them a bit longer break to get focused before he returned to the trail. Richie is back on the ice again at this hour, so let’s hope his troubles are over. Richie and his Team are having a great Iditarod!!
While Pete takes his 8 hours Teams are resting up for the run across the portage to Unalakleet. Soft snow and warm temperatures combined with a trail that was put in quite awhile ago will make for a challenging evening. It’s going to be a long hard battle tonight for everyone. It’s a hard sell to say which will be the better– Early Teams or late teams. With warmer weather I’d bet that the trail doesn’t setup to be very hard unless it already has a good base. Predictions are for up to 10 and maybe more inches of snow. Wet snow is like mashed potatoes and can be a real slow trip.
One thing that is in Pete’s favor if the trail is blown over is that there will be several Teams ahead of him that will have marked a good trail for him to follow. On the other hand soft trail can easily churned up by a few Teams. I’m sure Pete’s got this on his mind as well as conserving the remaining 10 dogs in the Team. It’s not entirely unusual to leave Kaltag with 10 in harness, but you just have to be careful and make sure that everyone is happy and wants to run.
The benefit of 10 is it’s is far easier in checkpoints to get food ready, bedded down, massaged, foot treatments and all that.
Waerner still seems to have the fastest Team, but there are many good Teams. The musher from Norway is the true leader and can leave at his leisure, having taken his 8 hour layover in Ruby. Jessie Royer and Brent Sass are in their 8 hour layover as well, so they are on the same interval as Pete.
The true order right now is
Redington and Ulsom are possibilities of passing Pete as well because they have taken their 8 hour already.
As we have seen from Richie’s issues today and Nic Petit’s last year, anything can happen and usually does in this last third of the race. Teams try to stay positioned to take advantage of any weakness of the Teams in front of them to advance up the leaderboard.
The excitement for me starts to build just as Teams arrive into Unalakleet. All of the stories that I remember have happened in the last 250 miles. I can’t wait!!
It’s going to be a great one! Stay tuned!
Kaiser Mushing Weather Forecast is rather nasty for tonight and tomorrow. Unalakleet at this hour is reporting 34F light wind with snow and mist. Ugh! The coastal humidity already makes it feel cold, but even with warm temps, the mist just creeps through you and it’s hard to stay warm. Pete will be working extra hard on feet tonight as booties slip off and snow begins to build little balls between the toes of the dogs. They don’t like it and at a break he’ll have to work fast to get to all 40 paws. More often than not Mushers prefer cold weather to warm and this will be a night I’d bet that’s the case.
Monday the weather is supposed to improve, so he has that to look forward to!
Go Team Kaiser!