Wow! What a gorgeous day in Willow for the restart yesterday! We hope that many of you were able to watch the start as it was broadcast live!
Some of our crew arrived home last night and have gotten settled and unpacked, and a few more are still in Anchorage and will head back today. While we have chores that must be done on a daily basis, during these 10 days or so we tend to put a few things on the back burner and focus on the race. Not only are we wondering where Jeff is, but that darn tracker is addicting! We find ourselves leaving our laptops on, checking as we walk by or glancing over our shoulders to see where Jeff is, looking for any and all information that we can glean to find out as much as we can about what is going on in the race. We put all that information together into something that we can share with you. For this race, look for updates here on our Blog (we’ll be sharing these to Facebook), and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter as we will also be sharing some stuff there.
So… let’s get down to it, shall we?
Sunday 3/4– Jeff left the start line at 15:16 with his team of 16 all-stars! It was determined on Friday morning before the team left our Homestead that Carl would not be making the trip this year, so he stayed home and gets to follow the race with us.
From Willow Jeff and the team cruised on up to Yentna Station at a speedy 10.37 mph. He stayed a bit there, perhaps making some adjustments and fine-tuning his sled. From Yentna he and the team were on up to the next checkpoint of Skwentna where he stayed five hours before departing early this morning at 05:03 to make his way to Finger Lake. Jeff was in and out of Finger Lake in just five minutes, but that was long enough to leave behind one dog. We know you’re wondering who… and we anticipate it to be his Warrior Princess that didn’t continue on, and Zig may be heading back to join us here at home. We don’t foresee it being anything serious, but will keep you posted. (Perhaps she caught an attitude! lol)
After departing Finger Lake, the trail has some stretches of difficult trail, and those include the “dreaded Happy River steps”. Here is some information on a section of trail outside of Finger Lake:
“About nine miles from Finger Lake, it’s time to slow down and get things under control. The trail will start dropping down the benches toward the Happy River gorge. Watch for some abrupt downhills with sharp turns in this descending section. The trail will be narrow and very twisting through some big timber. You may see a couple of the Iditarod’s now-famous yellow diamond highway warning signs that say either “Dangerous Trail Conditions Ahead” or “Watch your Ass!” When you see one of these signs, your first move should be to stomp on the brake and see what you’re about to get into, and then move forward very cautiously.
After a mile or so of dropping down toward the valley and zigzagging through the forest, you’ll plunge down a short but very steep hill; directly in front of you will be one of the warning signs and the trail will vanish over the edge of what looks like a cliff. It is a cliff. This is the entrance to the Happy River Steps. Stop the dogs at the top, say your prayers, revise your will, and then see how gently you can get the dogs to creep down the hill. Of course, you will be standing on your brake for all you’re worth.
The first “step” is a narrow ramp turning sharply to the left as you go over the lip and plunging diagonally down the face of a very steep slope. Unless you’re in the very front of the pack, there will be a rut worn in the middle of the ramp into which your sled will settle; keep it there even if it means laying your sled almost over on its side. At the bottom of the first ramp (maybe 50 yards), the trail will double back to the right on a small level area. There is a 50-foot cliff dropping off your left side in the turn; don’t look.” – Don Bowers, Jr.
Think that sounds like fun?!? There’s more to that section of trail before arriving at Rainy Pass – check it out here.
As we take a look at the tracker Jeff and team have made it down the steps (woo hoo!) and are enroute to Rainy Pass… looks like they are about 10 miles out. We anticipate Jeff staying in Rainy Pass for a while before he and the team move on to the next section of trail that includes the Dalzell Gorge…. stay tuned race fans! We’ve got a LONG way to go!