Epic Run to the Coast – Welcome to the Homeland

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What a run into Unalakleet for Pete and the Team!

9 hours 31 minutes! That is near record time for that leg. In the last 10 year that time is only bested a couple of times and the fastest? 9 hours 5 minutes. By whom or which Team might you ask? Team Kaiser and Jeff King – Each at 9h 5m.

Pete and the Team pulled out all the stops and headed west last night at 7:09pm in 11th position. They arrived into Unalakleet at 5:40am this morning in 6th position.

Tough getting up after the time change? Try getting going after a 9 hour run! Teams and Musher will be pretty oblivious to a time change because they are on the race clock. The race clock and the rest schedule during the race regulates their sleep patterns, so time? Pretty meaningless to them. Run X hours Rest Y hours.

It will be pretty interesting to see what Pete does this morning. His Team looked beautiful down the Yukon and he was able to rest and let Teams pass and then catch up on the Trail.

A shorter break will mean he is looking and going back to the 6/4 or similar schedule. A longer break may mean another long run possibly all the way to Koyuk.

A word about Unalakleet. It’s a real nice checkpoint and the breakfast there is World Famous! They will be cooking up mountains of pancakes and everything a musher might want in true Homeland Hospitality. I’m not sure if she’s there this year, but last year Ariel Twito cooked up so much bacon that she said the grease was in her pores for days! Thanks Unalakleet!!

Mushing Weather for today-

EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
INCLUDING...UNALAKLEET...STEBBINS...ST MICHAEL...ELIM...KOYUK...
SHAKTOOLIK
409 AM AKDT SUN MAR 13 2016

.TODAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. HIGHS 9 TO 20 ABOVE.
NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 4 BELOW TO 4 ABOVE. NORTHEAST
WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH.

Out of Kaltag – Night Portage Crossing

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Pete and the Team are now out of Kaltag on the 85 miles to Unalakleet over the Portage Trail. Team Kaiser was the 11th Team out of Kaltag this evening – Maybe that’s a good omen- Bib Eleven – Eleventh out of Kaltag.

This section of the trail in the past has varied wildly in condition. I just got off the phone with Steven Boney who just ran the Iron Dog a couple of weeks ago on the same trail. He reported that the trail was far better than last year and was good going. The trail is also an established transportation link between the Yukon and the Coast, so it should be pretty good going.

Iditarod Description of the Trail-

This leg follows the ancient Kaltag portage, a relatively straight valley angling southwest through the coastal mountains; the route has been used for millennia by Natives. It is normally a well-used snowmachine highway. It marks the major transition from the inland river environment to the Bering Sea coast. Conditions can be vastly different at opposite ends of the portage, and wind is a constant threat on the western half.

The distance to Unalakleet is actually about 82 miles. Plan on 10 to 15 hours for this trip, depending on whether you want to camp along the way, and for how long. There are two excellent resting spots on the trail, fifteen miles apart: the Tripod Flats cabin is 35 miles from Kaltag, and the Old Woman cabin is 15 miles farther on, about 35 miles from Unalakleet.

The trail climbs for 15 miles from Kaltag through mostly wooded country to the summit of the portage, about 800 feet above sea level. Then it descends slowly into the valley of the Unalakleet River, staying mostly in wooded or semi-wooded country with some excursions across taiga and open areas until Old Woman, then running across mostly open tundra on the south side of the river valley. The trail drops back down onto the Unalakleet River about 8 miles out of town, making a couple of short portages across river bends before crossing the frozen lagoon into Unalakleet.

 

Mushing Weather for this evening-

EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
INCLUDING...UNALAKLEET...STEBBINS...ST MICHAEL...ELIM...KOYUK...
SHAKTOOLIK
628 PM AKST SAT MAR 12 2016

.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOCAL AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. LOWS ZERO
TO 8 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
.SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. LOCAL AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW. HIGHS 8 TO
20 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.

Tough Trail Ahead to Nulato

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New Galena Trail -2016

After a quick 5 hour 27 minute run in from Ruby, Pete and the Team told Dana Diehl in Galena that he was going to rest “a few” before making the run over to Nulato. Due to dangerous open water, the trail is routed overland through a wood trail that is apparently pretty bumpy before it returns to the Koyukon River and then back to the Yukon. It is 14 miles longer due to this new routing.

A bit of a break for this trail will definitely be worthwhile. Brent Sass made the next leg in just under 8 hours, so the next stage in this race is definitely not just a cakewalk as I had initially figured. One notable musher that seems to be burning up the trail is Jeff King, but he still needs an 8 hour layover at some point. In real terms this puts him about 4 hours behind, but about even with Pete and the Team.

Richie Diehl had an epic run into Galena this evening as well. His times aren’t posted yet, but they have to be great. Richie is having a GREAT race. His times have been as fast or fastest on many legs. Go Richie!

While Pete and the Team rest a bit, here are the last of Kim Pravda’s nice Ruby photos. See Ya in the Morning! Go Team Kaiser!–

 

Afternoon on the Yukon

By KNOM in Ruby

By KNOM in Ruby looking West toward Galena

After reaching the Yukon Checkpoint of Ruby this morning, Pete took his 8 hour layover as many did today. Ruby was hectic as Team after Team took their breaks in the historic village checkpoint.

Richie Diehl, who had one of the fastest trail times in from Cripple last night made up quite a bit of time as well and completed his 8 hour as well in Ruby.

Layovers and breaktime complete, the race is now cleared to Unalakleet! This should be an exciting evening of racing as Teams make their way into the setting sun and downriver towards Kaltag, 169 miles away. The river times of Teams on the trail has varied on the run, but Mitch Seavey has the fastest so far at 5 hours and 35 minutes. Pete should have left Ruby at just before 4pm today, which could put him into Galena before 10pm this evening.

Our Iditarider Kim Pravda has now made her way to Ruby and was at the checkpoint when Pete’s group returned to the Trail. Here are her photos. Thanks Kim!

Looks like another great night of mushing weather:

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
321 PM AKST FRI MAR 11 2016

.TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 5 TO 15 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 5 TO
15 MPH.
.SATURDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER TEENS TO MID 20S.
NORTH WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH.