Around the Bend to Galena

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Richie and Pete on the Iditarod Trail – From ADN.com

Pete and Richie are just around the bend upriver from the next Checkpoint of Galena. Their speeds along this stretch of the trail have been outstanding due to the excellent conditions on the Yukon River trail. Their times should be excellent and some of the faster of the Teams in the Race.

Mike and his Team were into Galena at 22:11 about an hour ahead of Richie and Pete who have seemed to gain some time on the trail. We were seeing speeds in excess of 9mph on the 37 mile trail.

The checkpoints in this section of the race are spaced just far enough apart so they don’t allow for a real constant run rest cycle, so although a musher would rather push and do a 6 hour run/4 hour rest, the trail makes them do a 5/4 cycle instead. This isn’t the most efficient, but it does allow the teams to build up some rest. A musher will tend to rest in the checkpoint with water and a warm place, rather than on the trail. Another factor is that Teams are conserving energy for the latter parts of the race when they may push farther knowing the end is near. At this point in the race, Teams are in maintenance mode to try to get the teams in a rythem. The saying is that you want your Team to go the fastest “Slow” it can go. In other words, not full on speed, but the fastest, best speed, that is slow enough to keep other teams behind.

The next Checkpoint, Nulato, is 37 miles down the trail, followed by Kaltag, another 47 miles further.

Tomorrow proves to be another exciting day as we begin to transition into the coastal villages and the land of the Inupiaq. Fun Time Ahead!!

Mushing Weather for this evening: The moon has started to glow and with clear skies it will be real nice for the Men as they see the moonlit snow on the river trail southbound. Winds will be at their backs and I can just imagine all three of them dozing at the “wheel” so to speak as the Teams move them through the night. It’s nights like these that dreams are made of.

Temperatures will be just below zero with light winds and clear skies.

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Joe Redington Sr. Camped Out in Iditarod Race in Nulato

Trail Description:

This leg is all on the Yukon River and normally presents no real problems. It is a major snowmachine highway maintained by the locals and is well used all winter. Plan on four to six hours for this run. It can be cold, as can all river runs, and all the usual river hazards can be present, including overflow, rough ice, and open water. When the wind blows, the trail can become obscured very quickly, but it should be well marked. The trail can swing back and forth across the river several times on this leg to cut across bends.

Leaving Galena the river runs generally west. Fifteen miles from Galena the trail passes the fishing camp at Bishop Rock, a prominent landmark on the north bank of the river. Ten miles later it passes the mouth of the Koyukuk River, a major tributary, flowing in from the north, with the village of Koyukuk on the northwest bank. Five miles past Koyukuk the river swings south and the right bank becomes a low range of mountains rising to a thousand feet above the river. Nulato is eleven miles past the big bend to the south, on the right (west) bank.

Trio Report – Into the Setting Sun, Onto the Yukon River

galena

Pete and the Team are just now leaving the Checkpoint of Ruby and headed downstream! Pete and his buddy Richie just completed their 8 hour mandatory layover and now face a great fast trail and regular checkpoints to water their dogs and grab a warm snack. Pete dropped a dog in Ruby and is now running 14, while Richie still has the 13 he has had for while. Their out times were 17:57 and 17:58 respectively.

Mike Jr. is running about 2 hours ahead of Pete and Richie, having left just after 4pm. Mike is doing a fine job of keeping the Williams Family Team together and he still has 9 in harness. This has to be a bit of extra work, but also has something to do with these dogs being some of the toughest around.

Weather in the area is just wonderful. Clear skies, great temperatures, and light winds will make this a fun trip down the Yukon. The trail will follow the river 137 miles down to Kaltag through Galena and Nulato. This will take all of tonight to accomplish, but tomorrow, unbelievably, we will be beginning to talk about the Coast! The 2014 Iditarod is going to go down with talk of the challenges of the “Burn,” but it may also go down as one of the fastest. At this point we are 12 hours ahead of John Bakers historic record run. 12 HOURS!!

John Baker holds the Iditarod Record at 8d 18h 46m 39s. He left Willow on the 6th of March and arrived into Kaltag almost exactly 6 days later. To be exact he arrived into Kaltag at 13:19 on the 12th. (Day 6) He arrived into Nome at 9:46am on the 15th. What does this mean?

It means watch that clock! Martin left Willow on the 2nd and he has to be in Kaltag by tomorrow morning to be on record pace. If he gets there tonight, start counting back from 9am and do that to John’s time in Nome. It’s going to be close!

Now the one variable on the chart is the trail up the coast and especially between White Mountain and Nome. There is NO Snow and it looks, in some places, looks like the moon!

Here are photos from Team19 on their Iron Dog Trip.

Mushing weather for tonight is traditional Alaska Interior weather. Cold and still in the evenings and warm bright days with warmer temperatures.

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
217 PM AKST FRI MAR 7 2014

.TONIGHT...CLEAR. LOWS 5 TO 20 BELOW. NORTHEAST WINDS 5 TO 15
MPH.
.SATURDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS 6 TO 14 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 5 TO
15 MPH.

Rolling to the River! Good Times!

Pete and Richie and their Teams had GREAT times from Cripple into Ruby! We are very excited to see times under 9 hours and some of the fastest times over the stretch by these two Teams. Way to GO!

Pete and Team Kaiser – 15 Dogs – Arrived 9:57am – Travel Time 8h 51m  – 7.91MPH – 70 Miles.

Richie and Team Diehl – 13 Dogs – Arrived 9:58am – Travel Time 8h 55m – 7.85MPH – 70 Miles.

Here are some fun facts about Ruby, one of the Gold Rush towns from the Early Days:

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 World War I 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 World War II 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.
Local residents nicknamed the town “The Gem of the Yukon”, because it is located along the Yukon River and also the name resembles that of a ruby gemstone.
The largest gold nugget ever found in Alaska (294.10 Troy Ounces) was found near Ruby in 1998.
Notable people
Barry Clay – Discovered Alaska’s largest gold nugget, 294 oz (9.15 kg), in 1998 in the Ruby mining district.
Donald Honea, Sr. – Traditional chief of the Athabascan people
Emmitt Peters – Last rookie to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

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The Yukon Awaits! Pete and Richie into Ruby!

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Pete and the Team followed Richie and his Team into Ruby just about 10am this morning. Internet in Ruby is sketchy, so the Standings Board has been a bit behind track today for that checkpoint. Their time was pretty darn good at just over 9 hours! Go Teams!

They won’t get the 5 course gourmet meal that Jeff King enjoyed for reaching the Yukon First, but they will get a good break and warm breakfast. After a long night on the trail, it goes down just as good.

Expect a 4-5 hour break in this checkpoint after the long run in which they didn’t break on the trail.

 

Who’s On First??? Mike Jr. Into Ruby!

Dallas Seavey pulls out onto the Yukon River on leaving the Ruby, Alaska checkpoint on Friday, March 12, 2012, during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Anchorage Daily News / Bob Hallinen

Dallas Seavey pulls out onto the Yukon River on leaving the Ruby, Alaska checkpoint on Friday, March 12, 2012, during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Anchorage Daily News / Bob Hallinen

After a cold night on the trail, Mike Jr. is just now arriving into the Yukon River checkpoint of Ruby, Alaska. He left Cripple last night at 9:23 with 9 dogs and his time will be pretty close to the time of John Baker, who left about 20 minutes earlier. This is a really good sign for his team of 9 that has been with him since the Kuskokwim. Go Mike Jr!!

Pete and the Team left Cripple after a bit over 5 hour rest in the wilderness checkpoint. Pete and Richie are still traveling together with pretty evenly matched Teams at this point. The Teams left early this morning just after 1am and are presently situated about 20 miles south of Ruby with about 2 hours and 30 minutes or so left before they will take another break.

The story at the front of the pack is still a bit convoluted and unclear, but the Teams to beat are seemingly Martin Buser and Robert Sorlie. Both have taken their 24 hour and 8 hour layovers and have no more mandatory layovers until the mandatory Hold Layover in White Mountain (8 Hours)

Aliy Zirke didn’t take her break in Ruby and mushed on last night to Galena. Though she shows first on the leaderboard, that 8 hour break is still hanging over her and we will see how that plays out. At this point in the race, the checkpoints are spaced evenly and mushers will tend to rest in checkpoints instead of on the trail because the distances about one run apart or so. What that means is that if a Team is going to take a 5 hour break anyway, they will stay the couple hours longer to check off that layover.

BUT– There are MANY miles to go and a good long break before the coastal run will also surely be welcome and that might be her strategy to take it in Unalakleet later down the trail.

Sonny Lindner is back on the trail and any time Jeff King will also be back in business, so today’s action proves be exciting! Stay Tuned!

Mushing Forecast for Today is warm for today, but cold tonight. Teams will have the wind at their back. It should be a barn burner!

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
330 AM AKST FRI MAR 7 2014

.TODAY...SUNNY. HIGHS 5 TO 20 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH.
.TONIGHT...CLEAR. LOWS 5 TO 20 BELOW. NORTH WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH.

Cold One Tonight

SMID104A

Poorman, Alaska

It’s a cold one in Cripple tonight. Tempertures well below zero are expected tonight with a brisk wind and virtually no moon. I’d bet the boys will rest up a bit before heading back out on the trail. A bit of warm food and a short nap is going to be just what the doctor ordered before the long trail up to Ruby.

From Iditarod.com – The trail from Cripple to Ruby is all on well-defined trails (mostly old mining roads) and there are no surprises other than some inevitable overflow and glaciering. You should expect to spend 8 to 12 hours on the trail depending on whether you camp inroute. For reference, this leg is a bit less than the run from Rohn to Nikolai, which is about 74 miles. As on the previous run, you must be careful not to run too far without stopping on this leg—it’s just long enough to cause problems. You can easily lose track of your progress and keep pushing until your dogs tell you that yoursquo;ve gone too far—after which it’s a long walk to Ruby.

From the runway, the trail will head up through the old Poorman town site and will begin to follow old mining roads. Shortly it will drop down the valley of Fourth of July Creek to the Sulatna River on a long downgrade. It’s about 15 miles from the airstrip to the river, depending on the exact routing. After crossing the old steel bridge over the Sulatna River, the trail runs up an old mining road like the one from Takotna to Ophir for 50 miles to Ruby.

The terrain is generally wooded rolling hills for the entire route, with black-spruce taiga (Russian for “land of little sticks”) interspersed with heavier forests on better-drained slopes and in river bottoms, as well as the inevitable open swamp and muskeg areas. The road from Sulatna Crossing to Ruby has some moderate hills with long but relatively easy grades, with a few excursions to timberline. Scattered overflow is common all along the leg, as are short glaciered and drifted sections, especially on the road to Ruby.

LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
INCLUDING...GALENA...NULATO...HUSLIA...KALTAG...RUBY...KOYUKUK
245 PM AKST THU MAR 6 2014

.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED FLURRIES IN THE EVENING...
THEN PARTLY CLOUDY AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS 9 TO 16 BELOW. NORTHEAST
WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH.
.FRIDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS 9 TO 12 ABOVE. NORTH WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.
.FRIDAY NIGHT...CLEAR. LOWS 9 TO 19 BELOW. NORTH WINDS 5 TO
15 MPH.

Trio Meet Up in Cripple

2014 Iditarod Cripple 14

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/slideshow/photos-banged-iditarod-leaders-plot-next-steps-cripple

2014-03-06-iditarod-cripple-40-1216px

http://www.knom.org/wp/blog/2014/03/06/in-photos-cripple/

Pete and the Team are still traveling with Richie and his Team as they make their way into the Cripple Checkpoint. They are likely to see Mike Jr. making preparations to leave on his way to Ruby. This will be the first time the Kusko Trio have been in a checkpoint together since the Start.

It has been a long day for the mushers and their 13 hour run is in two groups of strategies that are playing out on this part of the trail. Pete and Richie are still playing it conservative, I’m sure to maintain their Teams for the last stretch on the coast when they will surely need a strong group of dogs. Looking at the Standings Board, you see some Teams making the trip in about 10 hours, while others are about the same as our guys, at 13 hours or so.

I expect a short break here as they have taken about a 5 hour run since the last break on the trail.

Martin Buser just made it into Ruby and now the pundits and strategists can go wild. Martin arrived into Ruby almost exactly 12 hours after Jeff King. King is on his 24 hour break which really is over 25 hours due to the differential. Martin’s real worry however is Robert Sorlie and Aliye Zirkle, who are burning up the trail behind him. Tonight the race will shake out and by tomorrow we will see how big a lead Martin actually has.

Going to be a great one!