Apart from getting the dogs and humans in shape, one of the next most important tasks in preparation for any race is planning and packing the checkpoint drop bags. These are the bags that go ahead of the mushers to the checkpoints with all their resupply stocks.
Preparation can take days, even weeks, as hundreds of pounds of meat must be cut, kibble bagged, dog and human clothing and equipment packed, human food cooked... Planning for the bags hinges on the musher's race plan; plus contingency for Plan B, C and D. This is also on top of what the musher carries with them in the sled.
The dog equipment we pack includes booties, jackets, fleece blankets, spare harnesses and leggings etc. Their food includes team meal sized bags of Eagle Pack Kibble; and meat such as poultry skins, beef, salmon and other tasty goodies they will eat as snacks or will get added to their meals. Packs of vet supplies (wraps, Algyval, foot salve) are also packed ready if needed (the musher will usually carry this then use what is at the checkpoint to resupply if needed).
Meghan bags poultry skins; some of the equipment that goes into the bags
In terms of human food, Aliy and Allen pack freeze-dried meals, home-made oatmeal/banana bars, bacon (pounds and pounds of bacon!), nuts, protein snacks and other bits and pieces. Their equipment and clothing includes dry gloves and socks, and chemical foot and hand warmers; runner plastics for the sled and tools in case of equipment failure.
Each bag must be labelled and weighed - they must be under 40lb each - and an itemised list created.
Huge thanks to Mykena, Madison and Tami Earle for bagging literally hundreds of bags of Eagle Pack kibble ready to go out on both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod trails!
Today we are working on the Yukon Quest drop bags and then we need to start on the Iditarod bags as they are due while the team is on the Quest trail. It's certainly "all hands on deck" and thanks to everyone involved!