After leaving the Chisto checkpoint the trail crosses Sinoma and Excelsior Creeks which are notoriously “soggy” but this year were dry. The teams go up and over “The Hump” that, in typical Alaskan fashion, is a major understatement to the true nature of the hill. It is the largest hill the teams climb and some years it can be a long slow slog. After battling the hill they go through the Gakona River again which was reportedly dry also. If you remember last year there was large patches of open water in this stretch so it would have been a treat to the veteran dogs and mushers to cross over and not get wet feet.
For about six miles the trail follows the Alyeska Pipeline which adds to the true Alaskan experience then they cross over the road to the Meiers Lake Roadhouse. The road crossing, although over the major Richardson Highway, is very well manned, with signage and flashing lights and as safe as can be for dogs, mushers and motorists.
After a very fast sleep the handler crew welcomed a fantastic looking Black Team into Meiers Lake checkpoint at 4.18am this morning. Kodiak and Scout were still leading and Scooter was still cheerleading. I’m not sure Scooter ever stops cheerleading. Allen was pleased with his run and couldn’t be happier with the way the team looks right now. They are running with enthusiasm, eating everything and generally looking great.
The Red Team followed not too long afterwards and although Aliy herself admitted to being a little tired her team didn’t look tired at all. She said her run was “fantastic” and her team was “excellent”. They came in just 35 minutes behind the Black Team. Junior and Waylon were still leading the way. It was fun to see Biscuit and his son Pepe snuggling together to in their comfy straw beds.
Black Team resting on left, Red Team on right
We saw the Black then Red teams out towards Sourdough and both teams shot out of the checkpoint like they were on a mission! Once the teams leave Meiers Lake they climb some hills and cross the Golkana River several times, over Island Lake then they join the Pipeline again for a few miles.
Drop Dog Update - Dutch from Aliy’s Red Team gets to do the rest of the race in the truck with us. He had a tight tricep and as this run is very hilly, Aliy didn’t want to risk an injury. He will be just fine after some rest – each time we drop him for some food, water or to relieve himself we will massage him with some Algyval. He always enjoys some extra attention so will certainly lap that up.
Spencer and the Red & Black team had a good few hours camping after crossing the Gakona River. Spencer would have been nice and cosy in his sleeping bag with the temperatures in the early 20s F. The team will have enjoyed some peaceful time to rejuvenate themselves.
We just saw the team in and honestly they look great! The yearlings were all smiles and looked quite pleased with themselves. They’ll rest here a few more hours to really build their energy levels back up.
The R&Bs arrive into Meiers Lake
A word of thanks to the team at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse. They provide great food, coffee, wifi and a cosy place to sit for mushers, handlers and supporters - all with a smile on their face. Thanks team!
Our next stop is Sourdough Campground and there is limited cell and no wifi there so it could be some time before you hear from me again. But I leave you in the capable hands of Macgellan and I’ll try to text updates when possible.