Iditarod 2014 Ruby to Unanakleet (3/4)
After our rest in Ruby we dropped onto the mighty Yukon river just after sunrise on our way towards Galena. It felt like a milestone reaching the Yukon! The weather was yet again beautiful with blue skies and the sun shining. What a scenery to run dogs in! It got quite warm during the day, and the run was rather slow.
By the time we reached Galena my health had gotten worse, Bronchitis. I remember thinking – “oh no, come on, after all we’ve been through…” I was afraid I might have to scratch if I got worse. The doctor gave me antibiotics to prevent secondary infections as I wasn’t exactly able to stay inside and rest as one probably is supposed to do and left Galena in the evening just hoping things would work out. Yet again it was cold on the river, and running towards Nulato was probably the coldest lag in our race. We left in about 40 below and there were cold holes and sections when you just felt an instant freeze through the parka and boots. Not sure how cold those sections were. The run seemed very long, and I was glad when we finally reached Nulato in the middle of the night.
After Galena I had abandoned any idea of a run-rest schedule I had had. My main concern was not to get worse myself because I didn’t want to risk to have to scratch due to own illness and I decided that, this being our rookie run and we had wanted to give the dogs a good experience and rest well anyways, it did not really matter if I needed an hour or two or three more in every checkpoint as long as we’d actually make it to Nome. We left Nulato in daylight and went on to Kaltag.
Running to Kaltag was a windy run on the Yukon river. In Kaltag I built a wind barrier for the team as good as I could, fed and took care of them before I went to eat and sleep as usual. All 11 looked great. I got more cough tablets and we were studying weather reports to determine whether we should stay in Kaltag or leave for the coast. There was a storm at the coast, but the forecast was good and we decided to go on towards the Bering sea coast through the Kaltag portage.
We took a short break to rest and feed the dogs at Old Woman cabin as planned, Alex and Tommy joined me shortly after I arrived. We were told that this is the most beautiful place on Earth according to Susan Butcher, and it sure was a nice place. On our way we met a walker and a biker on their way to Nome (they have their own races to Nome). After a short rest at Old Woman’s cabin we went on towards Unalakleet, I could not wait to finally get to the coast. The snow and nice trails we had had from Nikolai quickly disappeared, and we were running on glare ice covered by an inch or two of powder. The dogs had a hard time to work on the slippery trail and where sliding a lot.
I could barely stand up, not to speak of being able to put in the snow hook. Eventually I found a place to stop the team and take of booties so they’d get a better grip. We slid our way onward to Unalakleet.
In Unalakleet I was met by two familiar faces, Espen and Roger. It is so good to see people you know along the trail. I asked Roger to send Kenneth a message telling him that I had gotten sick just to let him know so he would not have to wonder what was going on. I assumed he would know that something was wrong considering my rest times. All two-way communication devices such as phones are prohibited during Iditarod, so this was my first opportunity to pass on a message since I got sick about 400km earlier. I was happy and in a good mood since I actually had gotten better and was confident that we would make it all the way. The dogs looked great, but I still decided to stay on the safe side with my own rest. Espen and Roger had ordered Pizza for Tommy and I (and, as according to the rules, all teams coming in with us or after us). PIZZA! That Pizza sure tasted wonderful! We were now over 1000 km into the race with only about 4-500 more km to go and I had been looking a lot forward to running on the coast.
Videos on Youtube: The team approaches checkpoint Unalakleet