Official half way point in Iditarod. Is it really half way? With my camera bag strapped right over my speedometer, I have no idea how many miles we have gone since Willow. But talking to one of the trailbreakers, who is pulling a big groomer, he said it is 397 Trail miles up, but that he has 730 on his machines, with all the getting off the trail, turning around and putting in parking spots for the teams. Right when we pulled into Cripple, the 6 of the 8 trail breakers had left the checkpoint en route to Ruby. The remaining 2 machines will go with the groomer, as soon as teams get into Cripple. For them the Dorothy G. Page Halfway award is looming. A good poke of Gold. The run is between Jim Lanier und Trent Herbst, who both have not done their 24 hr layover yet.
In Ophir we passed Rohn and Martin Buser, who must have decided to take their 24 hr there. Since 1 a.m. a whole bunch of teams are on their way. While Trent and Jim are often only traveling at 6 mph, the guys coming fresh of their 24 hr layover are going with often more than 8 miles an hour. Dallas SeaveyÕs team really seems to be on fire, with at times averaging over 9. For him order to keep that, he needs to run shorter and most likely will stop on the way to Cripple. Mushers will now soon make decisions on how to run, either start, what we call Ò marching Ò, being long runs with short rests, where the teams trott effortlessly for many hours on end. Others still will try to play the speed came, with shorter runs and more frequent stops.
Meanwhile Cripple is getting ready and feels like the calm before the storm. Last finishing touches are done to the Checkpoint. Many ex Iditarod Mushers are out here to help. Jim Gallea with his dad. Noah Burmeister, brother to Aaron Burmeister who is currently running strong in the Top 10. Top female contender of all the past IditarodÕs Jessie Royer is here busy building camp. Parking spots have to be put in. The communications tent is buzzing with activity. Planes are landing and carpenters are hammering away in the new mushers tent. Some fancy tent that is, with materials donated by SBS Builders Supply. While the temperatures dipped to pretty frigid levels last nights, its gone up to the 5 Degree range again which makes for perfect dog and checkpoint weather.
I apologize for the small pictures size, but this one here is once again a satellite upload, so I keep the bandwidth down. Once in Ruby we should have better internet again. Snow is still so deep here, that passing with the snowmachines is a real challenge, so we will stay ahead of the teams till Ruby. Once on the river, we can drop further back in the field and pass mushers along the way along the Yukon River, without being in their way.