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Iditarod 2019 Trail

Iditarod 2019 MapIt’s the southern route that includes the namesake ghost-town of Iditarod as the midpoint. The Stepping Stones, the Burn, Rainy Pass, the Glacier, all of the hazards of the first half are still part of the race, as well as the long open stretch between Ophir and the Yukon. The route that is normally taken in odd years.

The day will be about 10 and a half hours at Anchorage and the moon is waning with a new moon on March 6th. The temperature is in the 20s in Anchorage, which is a welcome change from recent years.

Things start off next Saturday, Susan Butcher Day, with the ‘parade’ from Anchorage to the airport. The actual racing starts on Sunday at Willow.

Checkpoint From Start From End Next Chkpnt
Anchorage 0 998 11
Campbell Airstrip 11 987 0
Willow 11 987 42
Yentna 53 945 30
Skwentna 83 915 40
Finger Lake 123 875 30
Rainy Pass 153 845 35
Rohn 188 810 75
Nikolai 263 735 48
McGrath 311 687 18
Takotna 329 669 23
Ophir 352 646 80
Iditarod 432 566 55
Shageluk 487 511 25
Anvik 512 486 18
Grayling 530 468 62
Eagle Island 592 406 60
Kaltag 652 346 85
Unalakleet 737 261 40
Shaktoolik 777 221 50
Koyuk 827 171 48
Elim 875 123 46
White Mountain 921 77 55
Safety 976 22 22
Nome 998 0 0

At the beginning of the race, especially if there is deep snow, the moose will use the trail. To a moose a sled dog team is a wolf pack, and they will attack. An adult moose can easily kill, or severely injure, multiple dogs on a team. You don’t want to run into a moose.

Between Finger Lake and Rainy Pass you discover the Happy Valley Steps. The Steps are jarring enough with snow on them, but without the snow they’re slabs of rock, quite capable of busting up a sled.

After Rainy Pass, you face the descent into the Dalzell Gorge. Without snow to help with steering and braking, it will be even more of a nightmare than the E+ ticket it has always been.

The run from Rohn to Nikolai as two fun features. The Glacier is actually minor; it is a spring that pours water down a hill. If it is cold enough, it will be glare ice, otherwise it will be a cold mud patch.

The bigger problem is the Farewell Burn. This was the result of a forest fire, and the area is second growth, stumps, logs, and the hummocks of grass that can act like the bumpers in a pinball machine. The ideal condition for the Burn is deep snow to cushion the sled and keep above the hummocks and stumps.

After Nikolai things calm down a lot, but people really start thinking about taking their 24-hour stop.


1 JuanitaM { 02.28.19 at 11:48 am }

Hey Bryan, sad news today in the dog world. Apparently, Walter died in Hugh Neff’s arms yesterday. He was 16, and according to a post from someone on Facebook, he had been ailing for a few weeks.

This is the hardest part of having animals.

2 Bryan { 02.28.19 at 7:30 pm }

Hugh is having a major rough patch. He is on a suspension from sled dog racing after one of his dogs died on last year’s Quest. The vets felt he should have noticed that Boppy, the dog who died, was in bad shape. The proximate cause of death was aspiration, but the dog was suffering from gastric ulcers and had lost a lost of weight during the race. The judgment was a lack of proper dog care.

Now he has to deal with the loss of one of his main dogs for many years. Sad.

3 JuanitaM { 03.01.19 at 7:48 pm }

You know, I heard a bit about that and hardly know what to think. Hugh had always impressed me as someone that really loved his dogs and cared for them well.

I did read an article somewhere that an outside veterinarian did a necropsy and had a differing opinion than the Quest veterinarian, but they would not allow an outside vet to give an opinion at the hearing or whatever they called it. There may be more to the story, or there may not.

It just seems odd that if the dog was in that bad shape, one of the vets didn’t notice it before the dog died. He didn’t get that way overnight. Assuming that they are correct and Neff is negligent, the dog was halfway through the race. Didn’t one of the vets see that the dog was in distress?

Yeah, it’s really sad.

4 Bryan { 03.01.19 at 8:35 pm }

I wondered about the Quest’s system. The dogs have to be vet checked before the race, and several times within the race. Hugh and the vets all missed the problem until the dog died. If it was obvious at all, Hugh has a kennel and would have selected another dog if Boppy wasn’t up to speed. It’s like the Dallas Seavey drug accusation, it doesn’t make sense when you step back to look at it.

You might want to read Blair Braverman And Her ‘Ugly Dogs’ Prepare For Her First Iditarod.

5 JuanitaM { 03.02.19 at 11:47 am }

Another great link, Bryan! Thanks. What a good story, and now I will be watching Pepe & Flame leading the Braverman team. lol.

6 Bryan { 03.02.19 at 7:23 pm }

Glad I could share. 😉