Okay!... As you know from my last iPhone post, the Black Team arrived here in Paxson at 3:47. While Bridgett strawed, unbootied and snacked the dogs, Allen made a hot meal for them. After only 45 minutes, the entire checkpoint process was complete -- very efficient with two mushers -- and the dogs were down for a rest. The mushers then took 15 minutes to eat the food you saw in the photo.
They are now stretched out and resting on the floor... for a whole 20 minutes! After that, they will be up and out to do the "leaving process" -- booties, snacks, etc. Their planned two hour "rest" will then be complete and they will hit the trail back to MacLaren.
So far, everything is going according to their race plan. I repeat, they have NO "dropped" dogs. Their plan was always to "leave" two in Alpine and two more in MacLaren. These dogs will add fresh power for the return legs, and should provide a real "enthusiasm" boost to their team mates.
I know that's good news for all of you, and I have some more: I've just downloaded a ton of fantastic video from the camera Bridgett has been using on the trail. I regret that the internet here isn't good enough to upload any of it -- I don't think I'd have time even if it was -- but you have some really great stuff to look forward to.
Meanwhile, here is a still photo to give you a sense of it:
At this moment, we think the Red Team will arrive either just before or just after the Black Team leaves. I will spend time with them, then drive back to Fairbanks. You now know that the Teams have completed their 8-hour mandatory rests, so I won't have that time in my favor. Plus, after 2 hours of rest here, the Black Team will only rest 4.5 hours total on the return. In other words, by the time I leave here after visiting with the Red Team, I will have to really hustle to stay ahead of the Black Team.
Hang on and stay tuned!