From a Musher’s perspective:
It is a long, challenging run across Golovin Bay no matter what. The flat terrain (because it is the frozen ocean) has very few reference points to judge distance or depth. There are often no distractions for the dogs or Mushers. At this point in the race, distractions are nice.
Finally, the route comes off the ocean, overland and onto the Fish River. The teams generally gain enthusiasm from the terrain change, the windy river and veteran dogs know that just around the next corner… is White Mountain!
The final 1/4 mile into the Checkpoint, both dogs and Mushers can see dozens of village houses along the bluff above the river. Day or night, this is an exciting moment. Village dogs bark and spectators will yell and whistle.
Teams are parked on the frozen river. The village of White Mountain is spread out above them.
Boats are parked where the Iditarod Dog Teams usually park.
White Mountain is one of the best towns in the world for sledding downhill and the kids use sled, plastic, cardboard or their fannies to enjoy themselves. Villagers - youth and adults - come down to the parking area to see the teams come in and leave. The attitude of the Mushers is much different here than anywhere else on the route. A mandatory 8 hour rest stop means that no one has to make any strategic decision and no one can ‘sneak out’ before they are supposed to leave. Both Aliy and Allen enjoy White Mountain tremendously.
Aliy was in White Mountain all day Wednesday, August 30th.