5 miles to the Yukon

5 miles to go and take a break! Pete is on a equal Run/Rest strategy so I anticipate he will take his 8 hours in Ruby like everyone else has and head towards Galena in the morning.

Pete has been on mining roads for the last 40 or so miles. This is really the last road he’ll see until he gets quite a bit closer to Nome.

Ruby is 497 trail miles from Nome and the finish.

How ’bout a bit of Ruby trivia: (Wikipedia)

History

Riverboats on the Yukon River at Ruby, Alaska during the town’s heyday

The town of Ruby was established in 1911 as the result of a gold rush. Gold was first discovered at the current townsite in 1906 on Ruby Creek. That discovery brought more prospectors to the area. In 1910 word leaked out about a gold strike on Long Creek, 30 miles south of Ruby, and a stampede was on. Discoveries on other nearby creeks followed and Ruby became the supply point for the mines.

At its peak the population was near 3000. By 1918 The town was in decline. Many of the men had left to fight in WWI and several of the towns business people and their families were lost in the sinking of the ship Sophia.

A fire in 1929 destroyed much of the business district and a flood in 1931 took out what was left of buildings on the river front.

After WWII the population of the community had left. Natives from the village of Kokrines moved in to take advantage of the abandoned homes. There are currently less than 200 people living in Ruby.

Noted people

The largest gold nugget ever found in Alaska(294.10 Troy Ounces)was found near Ruby, Alaska in 1998.

20 miles from Ruby

Pete is on the move again towards Ruby.

Weather Conditions at Ruby:

-4 °F
Clear
Windchill:     -4 °F
Humidity:     57%
Dew Point:     -15 °F
Wind:     3 mph from the NE
Wind Gust:     5.0 mph
Pressure:      in (Rising)
Visibility:     10.0 miles

Ruby Alaska

On the Trail to Ruby

I talked with Pete’s Mom, Janet, this morning and asked about the In and Out of Cripple and she said that Pete has a definite plan for the race. He may have gone through Cripple and THEN rested along the trail. GPS Tracker shows him stopped 10 miles or so up the trail from Cripple. Most musher have been taking long breaks in Cripple, so if he breaks on the trail instead of Cripple, we should expect him into Ruby fairly late this evening. Stay Tuned!

Weather Updated: 1:19 PM AKST on March 12, 2010
Clear
-6 °F
Clear
Windchill: -6 °F
Humidity: 55%
Dew Point: -18 °F
Wind: Calm

Wind Gust: 4.0 mph
Pressure: in (Rising)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 2 out of 16
Clouds:
Clear -
(Above Ground Level)

In and Out of Cripple

Pete is in and out of Cripple.

IN- 6:40am OUT- 7:00am DOGS- 13

This stretch follows mining roads most of the way into Ruby.

Once Pete reaches Ruby, he’ll also reach the first checkpoint on the Yukon. If you were to split the race into quarters, the first part is from Willow to McGrath- Mountains and such, Then McGrath to Ruby- Tundra Trails, then Ruby to Kaltag- Yukon River, Kaltag/Unalakleet to Nome- The coast. Each section is a bit different. Pete and his dogs will be used to the river trail and the wind that is sure to accompany it.

Day 6- Morning Update- Cripple

GPS Tracker shows Pete in and stopped in Cripple. The Standings Page from 6:30 hasn’t shown this yet, but the Tracker appears to be working (When it has failed it has showed him farther back, not forward).

After such a long run, I am expecting him to rest in Cripple for a bit. Other mushers have been resting at this checkpoint for 5-6 hours before headed out for Ruby. Ruby is 65 miles up the trail from the checkpoint.

The speeds listed on the Standings Page from Iditarod cannot be accurate. I believe they are using the old mileages. On the Mileages listing, they show this:

Ophir to Cripple- 59
Cripple to Rubby- 112

But on the Checkpoint descriptions they say that the Cripple checkpoint was moved:

-From Iditarod–Important Note The Cripple checkpoint was moved for the 2000 race. It will be located approximately 45 miles farther toward Ruby, at the Poorman airstrip. This is the same location used by the Iron Dog snowmachine race for its checkpoint. This significantly changes the nature of this portion of the race. The distance from Ophir to Cripple is now about 105 miles instead of the previous 60, and the distance from the Cripple/Poorman checkpoint to Ruby will be about 65 miles, instead of the previous 112. The Trail Notes have been revised to reflect this change.

Yet if you look at Jeff King’s time, he made the run from Cripple to Ruby in 9.47 hrs at a speed of 11.45mph. Simple Math shows 112 miles. I am confused.

From the times I am seeing, I think that the Note above is correct, but the speeds are wrong. We’ll ask Pete when we see him:)

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
322 AM AKST FRI MAR 12 2010
.TODAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING.
HIGHS ZERO TO 10 BELOW. LIGHT WINDS.

Current Ruby Weather
Light Snow
-19 °F
Light Snow
Windchill: -19 °F
Humidity: 74%
Dew Point: -25 °F
Wind: 1 mph from the SW

Wind Gust: 5.0 mph
Pressure: in (Rising)
Visibility: 9.0 miles

Melanie Gould of Talkeetna pulls into the halfway checkpoint at Cripple IDITAROD 2002

Tough Night Ahead

This night will be brutal for both dog and man. Either Pete is stopped, or the darn GPS tracker is offline on his sled (Again). Leading teams have been averaging about 10 hours for this leg. The gal that left Ophir right after Pete, Judy Currier, is about 15 miles from Cripple, so I would expect Pete to be close to her. The next leg this evening, after a break at the Cripple Checkpoint is 65 miles into Ruby. Cripple marks the Halfway point in the race.

From the Iditarod Trail Description:

This is now the longest leg of the entire race on either the northern or southern routes. The new distance is approximately 105 miles for the 2000 race. It will probably not run less than the posted mileage and will seem to take forever. It will now be necessary for most teams to camp for several hours along this leg. The trail generally runs along the Innoko River, crossing it three times. It then runs northeast away from the river, crosses the North Fork of the Innoko, and then runs along ridges on the east side of Poorman Creek. The terrain is mostly wooded with some open stretches in the river valleys. Expect 12 to 18 hours for this run. The trail has some rolling hills in the section between the North Fork of the Innoko and the Poorman airstrip.

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS
INCLUDING…GALENA…NULATO…HUSLIA…KALTAG…RUBY…KOYUKUK
843 PM AKST THU MAR 11 2010
.TONIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. PATCHY FOG. LOWS 15 TO 30 BELOW. LIGHT
WINDS.
.FRIDAY…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS ZERO TO 10 BELOW. LIGHT WINDS.

Cub Reporter from the Trail- Andy visits Pete in Takotna

Pete is probably on the trail by now, but Iditarod just hasn’t updated the website. He could have left after noon.

Just got off the phone with Grant Fairbanks who sent me a whole slew of photos. Apparently he missed Pete, so Andy Angstman rented a snowmachine and headed over to Takotna to visit with Pete. (I am trying to track Andy down to talk to him)

I just posted the Photos on the photo page, but here’s one for you. Pete is doing very well. In fact he said that Pete, Mike Williams Jr. and Quinn Iten looked like the just got in from Kwethluk, where the rest looked pretty Trail Weary!!

Pete in Takotna

Day 5- The Day Ahead

Once Pete completes his 24 hours layover (24 hours and 10 minutes with the differential) he will return to the trail that will take him north bound for the halfway point of Cripple and the Yukon River. Dallas Seavey and John Baker battled it out for the half-way prize early this morning with Seavy winning the $3000 in gold. GPS Shows them back on the trail to Ruby. The front runners are headed for Ruby, but haven’t taken their 24 hour yet.

We’ll see how this strategy pays out. Many mushers are taking layovers just before the half-way point, but others are moving past the half-way point. We have seen this before, but I don’t remember this many. It is still to early to see who is really leading the race, but my bet is that the group leaving with King, Neff, Seavy (Mitch), and Schnuelle is the group to watch.

Pete will be able to return to the trail just after noon today. (The mushers that left early in the starting order actually get a couple hours extra rest in addition to being first out of the starting gate as the differential is added to the layover)

Weather for Today:

UPPER KUSKOKWIM VALLEY-
INCLUDING...MCGRATH...NIKOLAI...TAKOTNA...FAREWELL LAKE
353 AM AKST THU MAR 11 2010
.TODAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH FLURRIES. HIGHS ZERO TO 10 BELOW.
NORTHWEST WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH.
.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FLURRIES IN THE EVENING. LOWS AROUND
25 BELOW. LIGHT WINDS.

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
353 AM AKST THU MAR 11 2010
.TODAY...CLOUDY. PATCHY FOG AND FLURRIES IN THE MORNING. HIGHS
AROUND ZERO. LIGHT WINDS.
.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FLURRIES IN THE EVENING. LOWS 15 BELOW
TO 25 BELOW ZERO. LIGHT WINDS.
.FRIDAY...CLOUDY WITH FLURRIES. HIGHS ZERO TO 5 ABOVE ZERO. LIGHT
WINDS.

Why Takotna??

– From Newsminer Iditarod 2009

Jan Newton sits at the table as volunteers cook for mushers in the kitchen in the community center at the Takotna, Alaska, checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, March, 12, 2009. The 72-year-old Newton has been serving up meals and catering to mushers’ needs for decades.

Tiny village of Takotna is the spa of the Iditarod trail

Mary Pemberton/The Associated Press

Published Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Associated Press

TAKOTNA, Alaska – The homemade pies are cooling in the corner, the stereo is playing country music and the griddle is frying up a breakfast of steak and eggs, or just about anything else trail-weary mushers would want.

For mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the Takotna checkpoint is the Iditarod Spa. It’s where 72-year-old Jan Newton for decades has been barking at mushers like a mother dog whose pups are acting up.

“What the hell are YOU doing here,” Jan says as another exhausted musher with a windburned face enters the community center and sits down at the long mushers’ table adorned with a plastic red and white checkered tablecloth. “Just eat and shut up.”

No one actually thinks Jan Newton is in a bad mood. Everyone knows she has a heart of gold. She and her husband, Dick, have been providing a home-away-from-home for mushers since 1972.

Jan begins making her Iditarod pies – apple, cherry, pumpkin, blueberry, pecan, banana, lemon, coconut, chocolate, pecan and butterscotch – in mid-January. Then she has to find a place to hide the more than 100 pies from her husband and his friends.

“Reliving their youth,” she says of her 77-year-old husband’s plan to hop on snowmobiles on Friday with two buddies and travel to Nome and the Iditarod finish line about 700 miles away.

“He ain’t giving up,” she said, when asked about the wisdom of an old man setting off by snowmobile on the Iditarod trail, “not as long as I can keep going.”

Dick, known for his trapping skills (he just sent off 35 marten pelts), came to Takotna from Clayton, Idaho, in 1970, where he and Jan ran a cafe, hotel and bar that catered to miners. Jan followed two years later.

A friend, Dorothy Anderson, also called “Puddens,” got the Iditarod Spa going by suggesting the two make a few meals for the mushers. At that time, Takotna wasn’t even an Iditarod checkpoint.

“The mushers would stop to eat moose meat stew and chili. That is why we have those up all the time,” Jan said, pointing to a counter running along one wall of the community center with three large stock pots.

Anderson pretty much left Jan to her own devices four years later and “you can see how that went,” Jan says. “Things just grew.”

“If you come in and ask for something and we didn’t have it, we had it the next year,” she said.

Musher Sven Haltmann, competing in his second Iditarod, enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, a sausage patty and potatoes on Thursday.

“It recharges the batteries,” he said. “You can just come in here and say I’m hungry and within 10 minutes they have food on your table. … It has always been great.”

Haltmann said mushers sleep in the church where there is a heater for drying out wet clothing. Many of them sleep under the pews.

Most of the mushers this year chose Takotna to satisfy one of the race requirements, taking a 24-hour break. Mushers can take the 24 anywhere along the 1,100-mile trail but Takotna is hard to pass up, even in a good trail year.

This year, the trail up ahead is said to be tough-going. Snowmobiles recently cleared it of yet more snow but it had not “set” yet, meaning it likely would be a slow slog on a soft trail.

Ryan Redington, the 26-year-old grandson of Iditarod founder Joe Redington Sr., in his sixth race, described his slice of banana creme pie as “very good.”

Redington put in another order as he prepared to hook up his dog team and leave – two double cheeseburgers for the road.

“It is unbelievable what they do for us,” said musher Bill Cotter as he sat down to a breakfast of medium-rare steak, eggs over easy and wheat toast.

Cotter, who is running in his 20th Iditarod, said what he likes most is the way the checkpoint takes care of his dogs. The operation is efficient, he said. That means mushers don’t have to waste valuable time toting water and bales of straw – time when their dogs could be resting.

It’s all right there for them when they pull in.

In other checkpoints, that can take two hours. In Takotna, it takes a cool 35 minutes.

“It is really what you have is a little oasis in the wilderness,” he said.