It’s a long haul up to Cripple and Ruby and takes a toll on the mental energy of the mushers. 75 miles into the wind. Cold and frigid. Takes a tough bunch to make it happen.
Mike Jr. just arrived into Cripple about half past 2pm. Times on his analytics show him making pretty good time. He made the trip in just about 11 hours which is about average so far.
Pete and Richie are still headed up the trail from Ophir. The new tracker is so bad that I really can’t put a mile marker on them except to say they are over half way there.
Weather at this hour has warmed a bit and the sun is out. Temperatures are 0 to 10 above with light winds from the North.
Good Morning Race Fans!
All of the Kusko Teams are now headed North to the Yukon!
As expected, Pete and Richie left Takotna in the early morning hours together and are presently through Ophir and headed North to Cripple. Mike Williams Jr. is running about 4 hours ahead of them on the same trail.
Pete dropped a couple of dogs in Ophir and Richie dropped one, so both Men are now running 13 in their Teams.
This year’s Iditarod has had the entire gambit of emotion, drama, and excitement, and it is all about to heat up shortly. Jeff King played a card that isn’t often played and pushed to Ruby to win the 5 course gourmet meal and $3500. This strategy adds to the excitement of the race as Martin Buser, who looks to be about 5 hours now ahead of the pack, will catch him as he takes his 24 hour layover. It is so much fun to watch all of this play out! Will Martin be able to hold off a King Team with a 24 hour rest? Will Jeff have enough speed after the 24 to catch Martin? WOW! Such Fun!
Of course there are many others just chomping at the bit for a slight mistake to allow them to play their card. Sonny Lindner might head for Galena. Aliye Zirkle is burning up the trail behind them with great speed. Nicolas Petit, Hugh Neff, and Aaron Burmeister aren’t out of it either.
Mushing Forecast for today is going to be chilly with a North Wind that will keep the Mushers just uncomfortable without being painful. Not alot of sun and light snow that will have Pete and the Team showing icicles from their beards as they head through Cripple and make for Ruby. This is a long stretch– The longest on the Iditarod and will have them into Ruby late tonight at the earliest. After the challenges of the Burn, this is a different challenge. A long brutal run into the North Wind.
LOWER KOYUKUK AND MIDDLE YUKON VALLEYS-
433 AM AKST THU MAR 6 2014
.TODAY...INCREASING CLOUDS. PATCHY FOG AND FLURRIES. HIGHS AROUND
8 ABOVE. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. LOCAL GUSTS 25 MPH.
.TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH FLURRIES. PATCHY FOG. LOWS 11 TO
18 BELOW. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH.
Thanks to Seth Fairbanks who traveled up to Takotna to grab some photos and video for us!
Team Kaiser at Rest in Takotna
Mike Williams Jr. has been on the trail for most of the day as he took his 24 hour layover early in Nikolai. Presently he is on the trail between Takotna and Ophir. He has a bit of a struggle with dogs and is now down to 9 in the Team.
Richie and Pete will return to the trail in the early morning hours tomorrow. Due to the Start differential, they will be leaving fairly close to each other. In fact, I am seeing Pete leaving just a few minutes before Richie. The differential should be 72 minutes. Pete arrived 1 hour and 9 minutes behind Richie and that would put him leaving 3 minutes ahead of Richie.
The trail for tonight will take the Teams to the Northwest and the checkpoint of Ophir 38 trail miles away. Then they will turn North and the 73 miles to Cripple.
Description of the Trail:
Takotna to Ophir – 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.
Ophir to Cripple – 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. There are no unusually tricky sections and most of the run can be a fairly fast trail if conditions are right and the fast-moving Iron Dog snowmachines haven’t bumped up the trail as they did in 1998.
Takotna Weather .
MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED FLURRIES. LOWS 4 TO 9 BELOW. NORTHEAST WINDS TO 10 MPH.
PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 6 TO 12 BELOW. EAST WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH.
.THURSDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS AROUND 10. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO