Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mile 101 - Sixth day - The mile 101 crew, the 19th musher, and amazing northern lights

Rob Cooke and his Siberians left around 2 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, howling and ready to go! And then we had a calm day in mile 101. Next musher arrived around 11am, and before that we all had a great opportunity to catch some sleep.
In morning Piia went with Bob and Georganne to drive along he Steese highway to see a huge caribou herd wandering around the mountains. This time we didn't see the herd, though the mountains were covered by their tracks. We also found wolf tracks there, so the caribous might have been in hurry.

Luckily we also captured a moment when Matthew Failor was coming down the Eagle summit. Here's the musher, alone in the wilderness with his dogs.

The checkpoint from the Steese highway

Our last post were mostly about us and our doings since it's the way we usually write this blog. We have been thinking about that and we think it is time to talk a bit about the other part of the team.

The checkpoint manager is Peter Kamper, he makes sure that everything goes smoothly and is part of the Yukon Quest video team. It's great to work with him since he gives us the opportunity to work the way we want as long as the job is done right. And nothing beats the German humor by the way!

Georganne and Kelly

Georganne in the kitchen
In the kitchen we had Kelly (Peter's wife) and Georganne taking care of us. Georganne took over after Kelly had to leave, but we gotta say these women are amazing!

Since we are up whenever mushers are up, the cooks have challenging task to keep all the people, mushers, volunteers and handlers fed. From what we saw we can say that the kitchen is the core of a checkpoint, mushers need their coffee and calorie, as do handlers and volunteers. That is pretty amazing to see how 20 eggs put on a table don't even last 2 minutes, the same with the bacon. The cook shack was always a busy place, and never once did these ladies lose their touch!
Lukas, Peter's son helps around with about everything. He is only 16 but he has been part of the mile 101 crew since he was born, so he knows what he is doing! He is usually the one who spots a clean area for the teams and parks them. Lukas makes also sure that mushers have hot water for the dogs and that the musher cabin is warm enough. Well, he can play cards as well, and make flips from the roofs of the cabins!

At the beginning we had also Travis helping us as well, with everything that needed to be done.

Kelly with Kevin and his girlfriend Ginny
Kevin was here at the beginning and Julien could'nt have done anything without him since he built all the internet network and especially the satellite antenna. He stayed the two first days in order to make sure that Julien was able to take over for him. It was very nice to have him helping. Kevin is the one who launches rockets to the sky, so you are in good hands with him!
Joe, Peter's friend from New York, was with us for a while as well, helping around with whatever checkpoint needed. And whenever you were cold, Joe had a nice warm story from Hawaii ready for you!

Two trail breakers, Dave and Kerry also spent the week with us, making sure the trails were open and properly marked for the teams. They also took us for a ride along the trail with their snow machines. Their work requires lots of skills but it provides the most beautiful workplace!

We had also a pleasure to meet many vets and race judges all around the world, who were all great people and we learned a lot from them.
Piia with Yukon Quest finisher and now YQ race judge Bob McAlpin
The vets checking Matthew's dogs
For sure the dogs were taken care of
And that is what it takes to make this checkpoint work, besides the Yukon Quest managing part of course. And our experience wouldn't have been anything like it was without these great people! Everything went amazingly well, thanks to great teamwork!

Today we had just one musher, Matthew Failor, who wasn't in hurry and was amazing with his dogs. We never saw a musher spending so much time massaging. He clearly enjoyed being here and being with his dogs. He was really open and talkative so we spent lot of time with him. Sadly he had to drop one of his leaders, we were all sad for him and tried to cheer him up. He left with positive attitude on Wednesday and we were very happy to witness him reaching the finnish line in Fairbanks earlier today. 


The weather was again incredible today: sunshine and blue skies. At night we got some incredible northern lights, colors changing from green to purple, dancing in the sky and covering it completely, just awesome! We had nice dinner with the crew, lighted some wishing lanterns and enjoyed the last night.




  1. I enjoyed meeting and working with you both so much. Thank you for being the awesome, sweet people you are!

    1. Right back at you! :) It was great to have you there, thanks for taking care of us! See you tonight!

  2. great blog, reminds me of my new Home Alaska. But soon I'm flying back to Fairbanks
    Sonia from Switzerland