In just over a month we will be back on the Trail for the 10th annual Iditarod Trail Invitational. I have been in contact with some of our checkpoints this morning. Folks from Nikolai have been working hard to get the trail put back in near Farewell lake where the fire this summer destroyed it. The fire was so hot it burned all the organics out of the soil and left a tangled mess of roots where the trail used to be. Suspended seat posts might not be a bad idea for the 26 miles of what has always been a historically rough section of trail. Word from Puntilla is low snow and a lot of brush on the trail. Iron Dog teams have made it as far as Hells Gate after having problems earlier with ice on the Happy River. Carl at Winter Lake Lodge said he had 35 inches of snow and the trails are good. Up until this last little bit of snow Michael Schoder said the trail up the Yentna to Skwentna was hard as concrete.
Skwentna Roadhouse has changed hands. We will miss having Bonnie's smiling face to greet us but the new owners sound excited to host our race. In the past Bonnie didn't charge racers for sleeping only for meals but that has changed. The price for a bed will be $28.00, breakfast $10.50 - $12.50, and dinner will be $15.00.
The lodges and homes that serve as our checkpoints are critical to the race. Smiles, thanks and tips go a long ways to ensuring they will continue to host us. No bikes, skis or sleds are allowed in checkpoints. For all of you with screws or studs in your shoes don't forget to remove them at the door of all checkpoints to avoid scratching up the floors. Dave at Luce's Lodge which is 9 miles before our Yentna Station checkpoint said he will be open until 9pm for racers needing to grab a bite to eat. Racers can also make advance reservations for a room if they like.
Drop bags are due by Saturday Feb. 19th. They can be dropped off or mailed to Alaska European B&B or to us in Chickaloon. Drops are for expendables only and should be packed in stuff sacks or contractor grade plastic sacks which are easier to pack in the small plane used to fly them in. Drops for Iditarod are due at the same time since the are shipped to McGrath then flown out to the trail from there. For new Nome racers don't forget folks have had to bivy for as long as 5 days waiting for the trail to be put in on the Southern route so don't leave McGrath too light on food and fuel.
Rob Kehrer (our Rohn checker) and I will head out on the 24th to put in the trail over the Pass and the Dalzell Gorge. I will miss all of you
Iditarod Trail Invitational
trail manager/wilderness guide