Thank you to all sponsors and fans for your support and encouragement. Without you, not only would Evening Star Kennel been absent from the 2010 Yukon Quest, but this incredible sport and these wonderful dogs would become a thing of distant memory. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope that you have enjoyed following this amazing event.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tales from the Trail: Part 5

Out of Dawson City, we had a short jaunt down the river and through the outskirts of town before we started heading up to the top of King Solomon Dome.  I was a little nervous that the dogs might balk with such a heavily loaded sled and such a long climb, but they were happy and fresh after their long rest.  They never looked back to question me and I never stopped running, pedaling, and poling.  I quickly started taking off layers and opening the vent zippers on my bibs.  So much for the showers in Dawson (yes, I took 2 just because I could).  I got to see the sun come up over some of the most beautiful and little traveled mountains I have had the privilege of climbing.
After 2.5 hours, I stopped to give the dogs a snack.  I thought it looked like we were almost there and I wanted to give them a little pick-me-up before we made the last ascent.  This was were Jennifer Rafaelli, who had left Dawson less than 10 minutes behind us, passed.  After our snack stop, we began to climb again.  And climb. And climb.  And climb.  Finally we crested the top and started the rolling descent.  Charlotte was having a hard time stretching out on the descent and so I loaded her into the sled.  Whenever we reached another longer ascent I would put her back in the team.

We continued like this for a while until we dropped into an old mining district where there were old tailing piles and big trucks along the trail.  I was looking for a good place to camp when I caught up to Bart and Peter camping alongside the trail with their (may I say, pathetic) attempt at a fire.  I stopped just passed them and got the dogs all set for a 6 hour rest.

After getting my team taken care of, I visited with the boys and helped them get the fire going a little better.  They were planning to take off 3 hours ahead of me.  We discussed how to get on track with our timing so we could hopefully travel together again.  When it was approaching their time to leave, about 2:30 pm, Bart declared it too warm.  It was warm and sunny where we were camped, which is good for resting; not so good for running.  They stayed for an extra hour and a half and departed just over an hour ahead of me.

On the way to the Scroggie Creek Dog Drop, we went through the black hills.  I had heard these were just lots of rolling hills that could be frustrating as it was difficult for the dogs to get into a rhythm with the constantly changing terrain.  However, I must have confused that trail description for something else.  This was another long climb and steeper than the one during the day over King Solomon Dome.  The dogs did great and we had a fun ride down the other side. 

We leap-frogged with Jennifer Rafaeli several times on this run, and I passed her a several miles outside of Scroggie Creek while on a river.  The Northern Lights were the most incredible I had ever seen.  There were all shades of green, highlighted with red.  The was a hugh rope of green from horizon to horizon, arching over us.  It seemed so close.  If I were just a little taller, I could have touched it.  It was quite difficult for me to pay attention to the trail as all I wanted to do was turn off my light and look up.  Absolutely beautiful

When we left our camp with Bart and Peter, I had decided that I would drop Charlotte in Scroggie.  I knew that the next section would be hilly and didn't want the rest of the team to have to carry her.  I didn't think her injury too severe, so I put her back in the team.  By the time we got to Scroggie, Charlotte was 100% again and somehow healed on the run.  She never had another problem and finished with flying colors.  These dogs are amazing.

Scroggie was a great stop with a recently built cabin.  When I arrived, Bart and Peter were just finishing getting their dogs down for a rest.  I had had a really good run and felt like my dog team was back and had made up another 20 minutes on the boys.  I thought maybe if they would take another longish rest, I could catch up.

I headed out of Scroggie in the morning and ran until it was too warm to push on.  I camped alone on the side of the trail.  One good thing about camping alone is that it is easier to get some rest.  After bedding down the dogs, I got in my sleeping bag with Shilo for a 2 hour nap.  We headed out in the dark to run to Pelly Crossing.  This was another smooth run except for losing a bolt on my handle bar.

After arriving in the wee hours, I bedded down the dogs and fixed my handlebar.  I went inside to hear that Hans Gatt had won the race and shattered all kinds of records.  I ate my dinner and went to sleep on the hard concrete floor.  My cold was getting a little better, but this was where the terrible cough started. 

In there morning, I watched Peter and Bart head out of the checkpoint as I packed my sled and prepared for the next leg.  I saw several stray dogs come into the dog area and steal from drop bags and sleds.  Amazing how bold they were!  We headed out late morning.  Only 250 miles to go.

1 comment:

  1. You got a few laughs out of me - teasing the guys about their fire and the mis-perception (wishful thinking) of distance on Solomon Dome. Pretty funny. It's really fun to see the race from your perspective - more pictures, more comments from the inside. I looked at all the photos during the race and poured over the terrain maps each step of the way, but see it from the ground - well, this is just good.