I had never seen jumble ice before and didn't quite understand what I might be in for. Jumble ice is the rough sections of the frozen river caused by an early freeze breaking up and refreezing. The broken up ice "jumbles" up and when refrozen forms a very rough surface. From talking with regulars of the trail, we had a relatively mild jumble ice year. But it was still rough going.
After 5 or 6 hours of running, our mild headwind, a usual expectation as you head up the Yukon, turned into a stiff headwind and we lost the trail as the wind exposed the glare ice. I had to tip the sled over and become lead dog for a while trying to find trail markers. One advantage to running on a river is that you have to be really out of it to really get lost. Even if you aren't on the established trail, you can keep following the river in the right direction and eventually you will find the trail again.
I ended up staying at Slaven's a little longer than intended so as to wait for the guys to get their full rest. We all travelled that night in fairly close proximity with Peter just ahead and Bart and me playing leap frog. The Northern Lights were spectacular. I turned my headlamp off to get a better look and ran into the back of Bart's sled. Apparently this story got told to one reporter and then made the papers all over.
One of the things about running a race like this that most people don't realize until they have been there is how comfortable we get with people we hardly know. I, like most of my fellow mushers, would regularly strip down to my long underwear in checkpoints while eating, sleeping, and drying things out. But the outhouse at Trout Creek takes the cake for smothering any facade of modesty. The said outhouse was actually not a house at all. It had 3 half walls barely hiding the hole and an open front facing exactly where Bart was repacking his sled. I realized this as I was walking over, toilet paper in hand. What could we do but laugh? Bart was kind enough to "give me a minute" and hightailed it over to talk with Peter. I wish I had taken the time to take a picture.
Eagle is the only remote checkpoint where we had drop bags for our resupply. It is not road accessible in the winter and so I did not see Brooke and Anita at this checkpoint. They had great food for us and beds to sleep in.