Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mile 101 - Third day - The first team arrived

The night was exciting and full of action. We had trail breakers coming in the middle of the night, some handlers were seeking for places to stay and Julien's night involved more musher watching than sleeping. But we were prepared for that so no problem. 

The first two teams were at the legendary Eagle summit at 7 am and then the waiting began. We had lots of people going around the checkpoint: race officials and vets, media people, handlers, family members and other interested people. We had people watching the trackers, but since you can't completely count on them we had people watching the trail from the checkpoint as well. Finally we saw the first leaders heading towards the sign in area, marked by straw bales and many people. 

Hugh Neff was the first musher to check in at the Mile 101, it was exciting for Piia to do the checker job. Amazing thing to remember! After Hugh Allen Moore was the next one to come in, and after a while they were both gone. So it was fast first action! Julien is the communication manager, which means managing the network and updating news from the checkpoint to the world, so it was a busy start for him as well, and we can only assume it will continue to be that way the whole race. Being communication manager is a very exciting job for him, and much liked!

After the first two teams were gone, we waited for the next set to come in. The sun came up and it was very warm, very much like spring time. Must be hard for the dogs though. Around noon we had first Brent Sass and then Jake Berkowitz checking in, and they had a Eagle summit story to tell. Jake's team was doing fine until the steepest point where they got a bit overwhelmed with many trails and deep snow, so Jake decided to bring the team up himself. And while he was dragging the gear up Brent Sass came from behind and helped the fellow musher in trouble. The interview was great to listen to. Mushing is definitely a team sport. It's about dogs being a team, mushers teaming with their dogs, and sometimes, specially when the things get rough, like they usually do at Eagle summit, mushers team up with each other as well. It's great to hear the mushers talk about the dogs and the other mushers with so much respect. 

In the afternoon Piia went out to the trail with the trail breakers and witnessed the hard work of these men. The good side of the job is that you are driving through some amazing landscapes, that you don't access too easily. Of course you also have to check the trail for safety issues. This time we found a metal piece sticking out from the ice trail, a piece that could have hurt some dogs teams. Luckily we saw and were able to remove, so he trail is safe to mush again.

Since we have hustle going on here the whole day and sometimes nights, we don't have a regular dining schedule. We have two amazing cooks in the kitchen, Kelly and Georganne, who keep us full and happy all day long. And I can tell you, it makes the difference, and their work is highly appreciated!

At 11 pm we had our fifth musher, Scott Smith, arriving. And after him we should have a decent night before next one comes over here. But with the changing conditions there, you never know.

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