The team and I got home safe and Sam and I are practicing our social distancing while looking back on this years race. This years race we saw an epic amount of weather changes. The race started out with just below freezing temps and blizzard conditions making the first leg of the race an extremely slow slog. After Skwetna the trail improved and the dogs were excited to be able to pick up the speed as we traveled to Finger lake and then to rainy pass. Leaving Rainy pass we saw extreme wind and when we got to the top of the pass we were in a ground blizzard. As I struggled to make out my lead dogs due to the blizzard I was amazed to look up and see a clear ski and full moon. The trip down through the notorious gorge was uneventful for my team ( this is a good thing, last year I had a major sled wipe out on the ice at the bottom of the gorge) The run down the pass typically takes us about 3 hours and we were in good company with Linwood and Jeff Deeter not too far ahead. In Rohn we enjoyed a nice rest before heading out towards Nikolai. This section of trail contains the Farwell Burn and is usually the worst section of trail due to large sections of snowless trail, stumps and rocks. This year the team also handled this section of trail like pros and do to our recent snowfall we actually saw a lot of snow in the burn. In Nikolai the team came down with diarrhea and I became more conservative with our run/rest schedule so the team could feel better. Although they had diarrhea the dogs had great attitudes and continue to try and play with each other at each checkpoint when they were supposed to be napping.
I again choose to 24 along the Kuskokwim river in McGrath. As I was leaving Nikolai I noticed the temperature was cooling down and I put all the dogs insulated coats on and all our male dogs had their foxtail (penis protectors) put on to protect them from the cold. When I arrived in Mcgratht he temperature was around -35 degree fahrenheit with reports it had been closer to -45 on the kuskokwim river. I love Mcgrath and since I had 24'd here last year my checkpoint routine was very efficient. The 24 hour rest goes by extremely fast.
During our 24 hours rest the first thing I do is get the dogs comfortable make each dog the best straw bed I can and get a nice warm calorie dense meal in the team. After the team is cared for I begin organizing my sled. After repacking the sled I head inside for a bite to eat and a nap, waking up every 4 hours to offer the team food, walk each dog around so they don't get stiff and make sure they stay limber and comfortable during their break.