A Look Back – Huslia Hospitality – Thanks Doreen David!

Everyone has said it over and over– Huslia was Awesome! The hospitality, the friendship, the food, the kids, and just the whole community put out all they had to make it possible. Pete said he wished he could have stayed a couple of days, but there was a race to run. Thanks Huslia! And Thanks to Doreen David for sharing her photos with us! Quyana! Ena baasee’!

Nice Run Team Kaiser!

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10 hours and 20 minutes from Galena to Huslia – 82 miles into the land of the Koyukon- Nice Run!

Pete and the Team arrived into the half-way checkpoint at 10:14pm and will take a good break before heading back towards the Yukon River.

The next stretch of trail follows the Koyukon river down to Koyukuk and then down to Nulato. Once in Nulato, the Iditarod will be on the same trail as a Northern Route trail.

I expect to see Pete and the Team on the trail in the morning, but first I would imagine he will take advantage of some of the great Moose soup and other goodies cooked up for mushers in Huslia.

Go Team Kaiser!

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Lights of Huslia in Sight!

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In the Arctic, once you get within a few miles of a village or community, there is a glow that you see in the sky. You can see it for miles away and the closer you get the brighter it gets. The snow around you starts to glow.

In the dark light of the Arctic sky, after 82 miles on the trail, Pete and the Team are coming close to Huslia and the “Halfway Finish Line” of this Athapaskan village. The entire community is out and has been cheering mushers into their small village on the banks of the Koyukon river.

Pete and the Team have made real good time. Armchair spectators were wondering whether Pete would decide to split the 166 mile loop in three legs or split in half. Jeff King threw the gauntlet and ran the entire leg non-stop. Mitch Seavy and Aliy Zirkle have played their hand and will camp on the trail with the three stop loop. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Pete and Jeff will be able to take advantage of Athapaskan hospitality and warm water and a warm place to sleep.

The fun of Iditarod is watching this play out.

Expect a 6 hour break before returning to the trail. That will put them back on the trail early tomorrow morning.

Currently in Huslia-

Weather Forecast for the evening and tomorrow:

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
831 PM AKDT FRI MAR 13 2015

.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 20 TO 35 BELOW. NORTHWEST WINDS TO
10 MPH. 
.SATURDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS 5 TO 15 BELOW. LIGHT WINDS.

 

Harnessed Up and Ready to Go! Onward to Huslia!

Note the smoke/steam in the photo. Not moving in the still air.

Note the smoke/steam in the photo. Not moving in the still air.

In just a few minutes, Pete and the Team will head North into the wilds of the Koyukon Valley. This stretch of the trail will be new to Pete and the Team, but should be a very pretty ride. It’s going to be cold, but not near what Teams last night experienced. Including his 24 hour layover, there will be some minutes added for the Start differential. It should be about 40 minutes actually, so between 11:30 and Noon, Team Kaiser will be On the Trail!

Current Weather in the Area:

Galena – Temperature -24F – Clear Skies – Light 3kt Wind
Huslia-  Temperature -26F – Clear Skies – Calm

Huslia - 3-13-15 11:00am

Huslia – 3-13-15 11:00am

Here is the trail description from Tim Huntington:

Galena to Huslia; distance of 84 miles. Note on Galena: home to the late Carl Huntington, the only musher to be champion to Iditarod, Fur Rondy, and the Open North Amercian

The trail leaving Galena follows lakes and old sloughs for about 5 miles then climbs the bank at Crow creek to begin the overland to Huslia. At 10 miles you’ll cross Bear creek, at about 13 miles you’ll cross a very big lake(Hourglass). Lakes and flats to about 19-20 miles then you’ll start travelling through jack spruce country. At 29 miles you’ll cross a small creek(Natlaratlen), at about 33 miles you’ll start getting to more lakes. At 34.5 miles, there’s a shelter cabin.the Galena to Huslia trail. It’s very bumpy whenever you are not on a lake (maybe 2/3 of the trail is bumps, 1/3 is awesome flat trail across lakes). The shelter cabin is about 37 miles from the Galena checkpoint, and is ready to go. We cut some wood, and there was some already there, dry and ready. It’s on the north side of a pretty big lake.

From there it’s more lakes and jack spruce until about 48 miles from Galena, where you’ll come to the Dulbi river for the 1st time. The 3rd time you come to it, you’ll cross and begin the portage to the Koyukuk river. You’re now at 58 miles, you’ll travel upriver for 3 miles climbing the bank on the right. There’s an old shelter cabin there. Wilson Sam’s place. It’s 21 miles to Huslia, all on lakes, flats, and tundra, with small portages .

Note on Huslia; home of the Huslia Hustlers. Ground zero of mushing legends. Names like Jimmy Huntington, George Attla, Cue Biefelt, Bergman Sam, Bobby and Warner.  Heck,at one time everyone had good dogs here. This towns champions, used only the best of what everyone had. Ask to see some of the private home trophy collections, it’s impressive.

Sleeping In in Galena!

Sunrise in Galena

Sunrise in Galena

Sleeping in… Feels good! Pete and the Team don’t have to be anywhere until they get going around 10 or so to be leaving this morning from Galena at 11:05am. Staying in Galena was a very good choice. It’s COLD up in them thar hills! Temperatures on the trail are pretty cold. In the arctic there cold settles in the valleys and the still cold as the trail dips here and there will actually have temperature variations of several degrees. While Galena and Huslia are reporting -28 to -30F temperatures, you can bet that the trail is far colder. Better to stay the night in Galena and make the trip in the warmer daylight. The 82 mile run up to Huslia should be a beautiful trip with palatable temperatures near zero.

In the Interior of Alaska, temperature swings during this time of the winter are very common. No wind and no clouds mean the sun can warm an area greatly during the day. All kinds of winter activities are much fun, but all cease as the frigid evening happens and temperatures swing to very cold temperatures. This is great for Teams running a bit down the pack as the trail will harden and make it much easier to contend with.

Jeff King is now on the Trail with all layovers complete except the last White Mountain Hold point. Mitch Seavey is also on the trail, but will need to take his 8 hour layover at some point. In this race, Teams are taking the 8 in checkpoints in combination with a break, so in reality they become just a 3 hour or so addition to a break. What is notable about Mitch is that his Ruby to Galena time was 45 minutes slower than Pete’s time in that leg.

As teams make their way onto the trail today we will begin to see a true leader and the real race now begins. We are a bit down the trail from the normal layover section of the race. Possibly 100 miles or so. It is going to be fun to see how this plays out in the final race time. Weather has not been a factor except for a bit of a soft trail and cold temperatures, but for the most part, it’s been very nice racing weather. Looking at the coast and Nome weather forecast into the middle of next week shows little change. Cooler temperatures and light winds. Could this be the race with no weather challenge? Stay tuned.

In terms of Teams on the trail to Huslia that decided to mush on last night… Well the cold has to be taking effect as I am seeing pretty slow speeds this morning of the Teams on the Trail to Huslia. I think it was a very wise move to take the 24 in Galena. This may be a chess move that will pay out much further on.

Go Team Kaiser!

Kaiser Racin’ Radio – Layover Strategies and Who’s the Leader

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On tonight’s session we talk about the layover strategies at play, how a layover is chosen, and who may be actually leading this race. Another fun session with Mr. Angstman-

From the Gangline – A Look at the Rural Contingent

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Myron Angstman

Its time to take a look at our rural racers, as the race approaches half way. I will take them mainly in the order they appear, starting with Aaron Burmeister. Rural you say? Of course he is. He spends a good share of his year in Nome and Kotzebue, he grew up in Nome, and he spends the rest of his time in Nenana, which is semi-rural.

Aaron is currently in front of the pack, and is making a strong move toward Huslia. I won’t call him the leader because I think Jeff King is right now, taking his 24 hour break in Galena. But Aaron is right up there, and has had good moving speeds throughout the race. He says things have not gone all that smoothly so far, yet there he is in front, so keep an eye on Aaron.

Next in line is Pete Kaiser, stopped in Galena apparently for his 24 hour. He will leave there well behind King, around 7 hours. That’s a lot of time to make up on a 4 time champion, but Pete had a real fast run into that checkpoint. Actually the fastest run into Galena was Paul Gebhardt and Pete was second fastest. I suspect part of that was a factor of the trail setting up after several teams went over it, and also the fact that those teams had a little extra rest from some of the teams that preceded them

Richie Diehl has quietly hung around the leaders and is about 3 hours behind Pete. He must still take both mandatory rests, and has been moving slower recently, but those rests could bring him back up a bit.

Katherine Keith is also in Galena, arriving five hours after Richie and moving a bit slower than him. She has taken her 8 hour break, and still must do her 24. She passed up her kennel partner John Baker who appears to be taking his 24 hour rest back in Ruby. John has had some good runs, and his history of moving up strongly in the latter part of the race might serve him well, especially if he has a hard fast trail out of Ruby from all the traffic ahead of him.

Our final rural team is Chuck Schaeffer who is on his way from Ruby to Galena having completed his 8 hour rest. Chuck is the lone rookie among the rural bunch, and he is the fourth ranked rookie right now.

Tomorrow night I will take a stab at naming the top three contenders, based not only on their position but also their speed and other secret factors.


Myron Angstman is a veteran of the Iditarod and past champion of the Kuskokwim 300 and John Beargrease sled dog races.  He practices law in Bethel, Alaska. For more dog race stuff, check his website at angstmanlawoffice.com