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.
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.