Monday, March 7, 2016

ID: Monday Afternoon Update and Black Team Identification Tips


We have just received notification that it was Mac that Aliy left in Finger Lake. At this stage we don't know the specific reason but we do know she was carrying him through Yentna. He has landed back in Anchorage and Linda, our returned dog coordinator, is about to pick him up. We'll give you more info as we get it.

Aliy and the Red Team are on the move again and have passed through Rainy Pass after camping for around five hours, eight miles before the checkpoint. It seems this was a good idea as evidently the beautiful weather brought lots of small planes with visitors and supporters to the checkpoint, and there were lots of teams still bunched together at the early part of the race. Her team would have had a restful, quiet break that allowed them to pass right through the checkpoint, stopping only to pick up some supplies for the next leg to Rohn, and for the vet team to look over the dogs.

The Insider featured a video of the team camping and she was using "old school" firewood to heat her water. She said she stopped them at seven hours, wanted to wait for the sun to go down a little bit and confirmed that she wanted to avoid the crush at Rainy Pass. The pictures showed the dogs enjoying a peaceful, warm nap in the sun.

Check out this post from 2013 Iditarod where Aliy shows us part of the trail towards Rohn on "Aliy Cam".

The run from Rainy Pass to Rohn includes the infamous Dalzell Gorge. An overview of the trail from the Iditarod website tells us: "It has some very tough trail, including the notorious Dalzell Gorge. Given a choice, most mushers prefer to do this during the day, although a nighttime run is entirely feasible, and with a bright moon can be ethereally beautiful. If possible, leave Rainy Pass Lodge so as to be at the summit of Rainy Pass about dawn (about a two or three hour run). If you do it in the afternoon, plan to be at the summit with at least two hours of daylight remaining.

The trail runs in the open on the tundra of Ptarmigan Pass from Rainy Pass Lodge to the mouth of Pass Creek, which it then follows northwest up to the summit of Rainy Pass itself. Then there are several miles of sometimes steep downhills and often tight, twisting trail through scrub willow southwest along Pass Fork to Dalzell Creek. The trail then drops into the infamous Dalzell Gorge for a few miles and finally onto the Tatina River for the last five miles to Rohn."

For detailed information about each leg click go to the Race Map then click on each checkpoint and you can find descriptions by Donald Bowers Jnr. The trail will be slightly different every race, depending on trail and ice conditions but this will give you a great overview and describes the landmarks of each leg.

The Red Team is on their way to Rohn, the Black Team is resting in Rainy Pass


The Iditarod Insider Live is a new feature this year where they are bringing live streamed pictures from some of the checkpoints! I missed the Red Team's live arrival (but was able to rewind later) but I managed to time it right this morning to see Allen bring the Black Team in. They looked great; full of beans in fact. Chica was barking up a storm, as was Lydia, and Spark was bouncing around. It's a great feature to couple with the GPS tracker so if you time it right you can catch the teams coming in.

As I write the Black Team is resting in Rainy Pass. Their run time from Finger Lake to Rainy Pass is up there with the "top teams" and what we can expect to happen, especially at the early stages of the race is that Allen will rest the team more frequently and/or for longer than those racing for a win.

Sebastian caught some great pics of them as they came into the checkpoint. There is one with Allen and he is wearing a neck gator. I may be clutching at straws here but I would like to think that if it were CRAZY hot he wouldn't be wearing it so maybe it is a little cooler out there?

Sebastian Schnuelle captured the Black Team coming into Rainy Pass

I thought it would be a good idea to give you some pro-tips for distinguishing the five lookalike blue-eyed tri-coloured sisters on the Black Team. It's still tricky to pick it on a photograph or video and sometimes even we who see them every day have some difficulty - but here's what to look for! These pictures below last season's portraits so you can see faces clearly. Also check out our Dogs Page for full body pictures of them all. Hope it helps!

Amber has pointy ears and her left leg is white; Violet has floppy ears and a white sock on her right leg; Junior has huge, pointy ears and has an almost "roman"-type nose compared to her younger sisters - she also has a white left leg which will complicate things with Amber so look for the nose. Junior will usually be nearer the front than the others but we expect Allen to move the team around to keep it interesting

These two girls are slightly easier to distinguish...

Chena has a mostly white and grey face with rounded upright ears; Lydia has a mostly brown face with a white stripe - and is TINY!


Steve Parker said...

Lovin' the updates, pics and videos. What a great competition for the dogs and mushers. We are with you Aliy and Allen from Montana. Go SPK.

J elliott said...

Absolutely breathtaking and heart thumping... What a terrific vid of the gorge passing... Ggaaaaaah.

Thanks all... From NM

Nessmuk said...

I can pick out Lydia and Junior...but I need some serious practice with the rest of the blue eyed beauties! Thanks for the tips...I will employ them as the race progresses!

Aliy must have been bummed to leave Mac behind....she really bonded with him on his Rookie Iditarod and he has been a trooper in many, many races since! Please keep us updated as you get the whole story....Im sure it was nothing serious but you know us fans...we worry till we know all the facts! Thanks Linda for looking after him!

Safe travels down the Dalzell!! Go SPK Teams!

Kathy said...

Thanks for the info. The three sister are truly blue eyed beautys!
Worried about Mac tho--must be so hard for Aliy to leave him behind.
Allen looks so relaxed. Go SPK Teams and Thanks to the SP Crew!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips on the blue eyed darlings, when you see their picture, you can see the shuttle differences. I'm sure if you all the others that are waiting at home it would be even more confusing for those of us who don't see them in person. How is Olivia doing with being left home?

Moira have you temporarily moved out of Moira's Mansion for larger digs that has more room for dog spoilage?

Anonymous said...

Adorable post on the blue-eyed ladies of the SP Kennel's Black Team!!!

Thanks so much for all you do,



Cheryl Moore, Cabot, AR said...

Totally bummed that Mac had to be dropped. Had to have been hard for Aliy. Thanks for the updates!

Anonymous said...

Big bummer for Aliy, Mac will have a great time with Linda! Thanks for our look alike girls, it is so hard in pics and team. Maybe this will help. Good report on Allen's crew as well. Awesome reports and video. Ahooowwll doggies back at the kennel with Moira and Aliy's Mom and Dad
Padee Fairbanks (visiting Santa Rosa, Ca)

A-town's Becky said...

It's nice to see on the tracker that Aliy is through the Dalzell gorge.
Thank you for the awesome ID tips and the great pics, and the little reminder video.
Cool off and take it easy Mac, enjoy some biscuits. They are going to miss you screaming up Little McKinley and Cape Nome, but it's better you rest.

Lisa B said...

Love love love Junior's fabulous ears! And I say that as the mama of two coonhounds who have long silky ears that can never be stroked enough in their opinion. Thanks for all the great updates and the super pics. The teams are both doing very well. I'm cheering for them and glued to the tracker and ID site every spare chance I get. Go Red! Go Black! Go Dogs!

Anonymous said...

Go SP Kennels!!! We love you and are cheering both teams on.

Donna Wiant said...

GO Aliy and Allen! Thanks for all the info and love Aliy's video on the trail!! Be safe.

Donna Wiant said...

Go Aliy and Allen.