Iditarod 23- Pete and the Team Out of Takotna

After a 24 hour layover to rest and refresh, Pete and the Team are bound for the Yukon via the namesake for the race, Iditarod!

“Out like a Freight Train!” said one of the spectators as Team Kaiser made their way to the trail. From here it is 102 miles to Iditarod and then on to Shageluk.

Weather seems to be real nice for mushing. Cooler temps should have hardened the trail as well as the fact that there are only a few Teams actually on the trail as most are inside of their 24’s as well. Leaving 32nd meant that virtually no time was added to the layover and some that he was traveling with will actually be a bit more behind than they were upon reaching Takotna.

Trail Description – Takotna to Ophir to Iditarod

This leg is probably closer to 32 miles than the posted 38. It follows the old mining road over to Ophir, built in the 1920s to connect Takotna and Ophir with Sterling Landing, a steamboat landing on the Kuskokwim River. It is now maintained by the state; the stretch from Takotna to Ophir isn’t plowed in the winter. Like other Bush roads, it doesn’t connect to the state highway system.

The first part is a 9-mile climb to the top of the divide between the Kuskokwim River drainage and that of the Innoko River, which flows into the Yukon. The rise is about 800 feet on easy grades. Then the road crosses the divide and runs downhill along Independence Creek for another 8 miles, then follows the south bank of the Innoko River for the last 15 miles into Ophir, with possibly a few overland shortcuts across bends.

his is one of the emptiest legs on the entire race, a full 90 miles of lonely country and endless trail. The trail crosses a mix of terrain and vegetation, ranging from taiga (black spruce) to barren upland tundra to thick river-bottom forests to brushy ravines and hillsides to swamps and lakes. This leg has no major problems, although are always patches of minor overflow, plenty of hills, and some potentially rough trail across the uplands. Its biggest feature is, as somebody once said of driving through Texas, miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.

You should plan for 12 to 18 hours, including a good several-hour rest somewhere along the way. Many drivers stop at Don’s Cabin, 36 miles out of Ophir. It’s a ramshackle plywood hut but it’s sheltered in the trees and has a stove. Another good camping spot is the tree line at the Windy Creek crossing, 10 miles past Don’s Cabin, or the Dishna River, a couple of miles past Windy Creek.

Leaving Ophir, the trail runs west down the Innoko River valley for five miles and then heads southwest toward Beaver Mountain Pass, slowly climbing through black spruce for ten miles. It breaks out above timberline briefly to cross the pass (actually a gentle, wide-open saddle) and then drops back into the tree line to cross a couple of creeks. Then it heads back up across Beaver Flats, a barren rolling upland flanking the Beaver Mountains, an isolated range of 4,000-foot mountains prominently visible five miles southeast of the trail.

After crossing the Beaver Flats, the trail re-enters the tree line and passes Don’s Cabin 36 miles after leaving Ophir. From the cabin, the trail continues southwest across lightly wooded uplands to Windy Creek and the Dishna River, the halfway point of the leg. From the Dishna, the trail climbs slowly back up through wooded country to another saddle and drops sharply down to First Chance Creek, which it then follows into the valley of the Iditarod River.

The trail leaves First Chance Creek a few miles before the river and runs south for 18 miles on the east side of the Iditarod River valley. It crosses several large creeks, swamps, and lakes, and runs up and down small hills. The old town of Iditarod is on a cut-off slough to the east of the Iditarod River. The checkpoint is across the slough from the few remaining buildings.

The weather can be a major factor on this leg, especially on the Beaver Flats, which are completely exposed. Whiteouts can happen quickly and winds can be severe. In fact, the materials for Don’s Cabin were flown in by a musher after he ran the southern route; he thought the trail desperately needed some kind of shelter in that area. Expect the trail across the Beaver Flats to have little snow; you’ll undoubtedly find yourself bouncing from one tundra tussock to another for many miles. The trail is generally well marked, with tripods augmenting the trail stakes across the uplands.


Iditarod 23- Time for a Day’s Rest

Pete and the Team are into Takotna at 22:11 for their 24 hour layover. A great time to take a break. 24 hours will hopefully let some of this warm weather pass by and then tomorrow evening, leaving at the coolest part of the evening puts Pete in fine position.

Bruce Lee, veteran Iditarod Musher and Analyst, told viewers that Team Kaiser was the strongest dog team he had seen tonight and in Rohn this morning as well. Those are fine words for a fine Team.

Now it’s time for a break as we get ready for the last two thirds of the Iditarod!!

Go Team Kaiser!!


Iditarod 23- Out of Nikolai – 24 Layover Next

Pete and the Team were out of Nikolai after a 4 hour break. Weather in the area looks beautiful to be sure!

Team Kaiser Fan Dietrich Nikolai got some great drone footage. (Pete’s Twin! Haha!)

Next on the agenda will be Takotna or Ophir for a 24 hour layover and the next section of the race. Teams are looking forward to a break at this point in the race and Pete is no exception. What everyone is hoping for is cooler temperatures.

In Pete’s 2019 Championship Iditarod, it took just under 10 hours total time from Nikolai to Takotna. That would put Team Kaiser into Takotna this evening around 10-11pm. Looking at trail times compared to that year, Pete is about an hour and 30 minutes later at this point in the race. In 2019, Pete and the Team left at 12:23pm, while this year Pete left at 13:48.

Presently the weather is vacation like with 29 degrees, calm winds, and super sunny skies. It’s going to be a warm bright one for Teams on the upper Kuskokwim River.

This is the only section of the race where Pete will travel the frozen water of the Kuskokwim. In the summer, Pete runs Kuskokwim Wilderness Adventures, a riverboat charter operation that runs the rivers on the lower section of the river. Fun to be able to travel on his “home court” so to speak.

Weather for the rest of the day:

Today– Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 30s. Light winds.
Tonight– Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of light freezing rain and snow after midnight. Lows in the lower to mid 20s. Light winds.



Iditarod 23- Team Kaiser into Nikolai

Good Morning again, Race Fans!

Pete and the Team are into Nikolai at 9:31am followed 2 minutes later by Eddie Burke Jr. and the Wildstyle Racing Team.

The dogs looked great and right now Pete is feeding the Team before taking a break himself. The dogs are eating well and everyone looks in fine shape.

I mentioned earlier that it must have been a better trail than expected, but after a short interview by the insider crew with Kelly Maxiner, it was not to be so. Kelly related that he had never mushed in mud before… and mud isn’t good for mushing!!! Apparently the trail was pretty rough and the South side of the hills had melted all of the snow away. Mud on the way up and ice on the North side on the way down. Also, the team had to deal with the jarring of the sled over the moguls. It was indeed a rough trail after all.

The insider live cam showed Richie Diehl taking a look at his sled. I’m wondering how the sleds fared after all of the rough trail as well.

Teams will be taking a 4 hour break here before returning to the trail and making their way to whatever place they decide to take their mandatory 24 hour layover.

Here’s hoping Pete and the Team fared well. They did look amazing!

Go Team Kaiser!!


Iditarod 23- Petit First into Nikolai

Good Morning Race fans!

It is looking like the warmer temperatures may have also tempered what were first described as tough trail into Nikolai.

Nicolas Petit arrived first this morning into Nikolai at just before 7am. Taking no breaks from Rohn, an impressive 8 hour 30 minute run over the trail. He has declared his 24 hour layover, but we will see if that happens or not. It is common to declare your 24 hour layover because the layover time starts when the musher declares the rest. With warm temps in store, who knows if that is his strategy. Many mushers will declare a layover, but Petit took a 24 parking spot. Let the games begin!!

Down the the trail, Pete is moving in a good speed in 8th position. After leaving Rohn last night at 9:30, Pete and the Team continued two more hours stopping at 11:42pm. After a 4 hour break they returned to the trail at 3:50 am on the trail to Nikolai. I wouldn’t expect any breaks between his present position and Nikolai. Presently (7am) they are 23 miles out of Nikolai which should put them into the checkpoint right about at the end of the 6 hour run.

Weather is not optimistic, unfortunately with warm temperatures rearing their head. Teams are going to be looking forward to Takotna and Ophir to wait out the warm weather and return to cooler temperatures later in the week.

The Team is still running with 14 dogs which is good news at this point. Several Teams have dropped dogs along the Alaska Range.

Here’s my first plug for the Insider. It really is worth it to see the GPS and the videos. At $4/day or so, it’s pretty worth it.