So, I just got off the phone with Jeff from Takotna. He was drinking a three-shot latte from the new coffee shop there. He was told that he should talk on the phone only in a public area so he chose the coffee shop. Great choice except for the noise of the steamer that sounded like a jet plane landing next door! He had just had a 3-4 hour nap and sounded great. He reported that the dogs are looking good; very smooth and committed. They were all perfectly gaited arriving into Takotna this morning. They are eating well and “fat for a King Iditarod team”. Jeff said, “Their weight is outstanding!” After their rest in Takotna, Jeff noticed that Call’s front feet looked sore. He will have plenty of time to get them ship-shape before leaving in the morning. The rest of the team have perfect feet and stools.

Guinness was shipped home from Rohn. He believes that she must have tripped in a large hole on the trail and affected both shoulders. She should be in Anchorage this morning and headed home to Jon Little’s in Kasilof within the next day or two.

The trail has been soft and slow, specifically to Takotna. Jeff reported that the depth of the snow is “staggering”. The berms along the trail from McGrath were giant. Rumors abound concerning the trail ahead from feet deep with new snow to broken out and fine. Everyone has their eyes on the weather. He hasn’t shivered once and has not been hot or cold anywhere along the trail yet. If there has been a wind, it has been at his back. The villages along the Yukon have reported warm temperatures and even rain. That could put a fast surface on the trail. The wind is reported to be howling on the coast. But, Jeff said, there has been nothing “miserable” yet.

On the trail to McGrath, he laid back on the sled and was watching the stars and half-dozing for a while. When he stood up, he realized that he was missing his $450 Petzl ULTRA headlamp. Knowing that it had dropped of his head during his recline and that no one was likely to return it, he decided to turn the team around and look for it. He found it about a mile back, turned the team once again and headed back in the direction of McGrath. He had giant tangles at each change of direction and lost a bit of time over the whole scenario.

He absolutely LOVES his sled. He said it is like having an extra dog or two. He is able to easily steer around holes in the trail that he sees others have gone through. The weight distribution of the trailer has been a significant advantage and has “performed spectacularly”. He was tempted to set up his tent/cab last night. The snow coming down bothers him and if he puts his ruff up too tight, his glasses fog. He may put up the tent in Takotna for some of the dogs to rest in.

He was quite sleepy last night and has to make a concerted effort to manage his energy…. a three-shot latte may not necessarily be prescribed to achieve that. : )

He took some video footage with the camera attached to his sled during his ride along the Happy River Steps. It was daylight so it provided a good opportunity. He gave the footage to Greg Hiester and the Insider crew so we may see it posted soon.

He is very impressed with Dallas Seavey and also reported that Teva (from our shoes litter) is running in Aaron Burmeister’s team. Cool!

My impressions from the conversation are that he sounded great, in good spirits and that the team sounds very solid for this point in the race.

More later….