Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018: Rachel in Fairbanks; Cal & Wilbur in Eagle

Rachel’s entry:  My breakfast arrived around 7:30 this morning which required me to get up earlier than I prefer.  The gal who brought the breakfast was able to stay so we could visit.  Her and her husband are a team of award winning ice sculptures. They go to international competitions too.  We had a great visit, and I saw photos of her incredible work. There work will be in an upcoming Toyota TV advertisement. 

Most shops in Fairbanks do not open until 10:00am and it is often 11:00.  That is the case of the antique shop I did not finish yesterday, so there is no rush for me to leave the house this morning.  After the antique shop I went to the Co-op in downtown.  On the first floor of this building there are several shops with Alaskan made items – one was mostly handicraft items, whereas the other one has artistic items.  Upstairs there is a Dog Sled Museum which is nice but could be updated.  The Co-op appears to be an old downtown department store building, that is now divided into smaller shops and restaurants on the first floor and a few offices on the 2nd and 3rd floor.  The building has been re-purposed.     

Following a lunch break at the Crepery in the Co-op building, I drove down the street to the Visitors Center and Morris Thompson Museum.  We had stopped at the Visitors Center several times last Friday & Saturday – this is where we warmed up and watched the movie on Dawson City, BUT we did not look at their museum.  Someone along the way, told me I should return and go through the museum.  So, I did today!  It was well worth the return trip.

After this I checked out the locations of the places I would be driving to tonight in the dark.  I wanted to be sure I knew where I was going.  I have very little time between meetings, and I do not want to be wandering around, making wrong turns. By now it is time I returned to the house for a nap, before needing to be at the West Mark Hotel in downtown at 5:30 for a Rotary meeting of the Fairbanks Golden Heart Club. 

I arrived at the West Mark at 5:20. Golden Heart club members did not arrive until 5:26!  They are having a Club Business meeting tonight instead of an outside program.  This Rotary Club is the smallest of the Fairbanks Clubs – 14 were in attendance.  They meet in a private room, and each person orders what he want to eat for the evening from the restaurant.  Only half of us had a meal.  The other half just had something to drink.   It is a very informal group.  Their Foreign Exchange student from Brazil was in attendance. 

As soon as the meeting was over, I was in the SUV, driving to a PEO meeting. The program tonight is by one of the Chapter members.  She has a Stain Glass Studio and we were in the studio, where she explained the process.

Cal’s Entry: Eagle and the Sled Dogs Arrival

The fire in the cabin stove was nearly out when I awoke around 5:30. I got up and stoked the fire, so it would not be so cold when we got up.  Around 6:30 I went to the house for an early cup of coffee. 
It is -25 F this morning!!
Sandy had a very nice breakfast for us, eggs, bacon and muffins.  After breakfast we put on our heavy- out-door gear and headed to the old school building/checkpoint to see what was happening.  The word is that the lead musher, Allen Moore, is still 15 miles outside of town, which at 7 miles per hour, comes to a little over 2 hours before he arrives.  The next musher is still 40 miles out.  Everything seems to be in order and ready for them to arrive.  There is a nice fire burning outside the school building for people to gather around to keep warm, and the school house is warm.  There is a combination of people at the school - volunteers, race organizers who flew in yesterday, race veterinarians, and a customs officer for those who fly in from Canada.  Eagle is less than 5 miles from Canada.
Around 10:00 am, I am planning on going to the checkpoint to get the latest update, and if the first team is getting close, I want to walk down the trail to meet them when they arrive.  That is if I can stay warm enough!  It is still -27 at 10:00 am!

Checking the Trail for Markers

Ready for the first Mushers

Checking Musher Location on the Computer

Inside the Old School

Musher Information Board

When I got to the checkpoint, the word was that Allen Moore was due in at 11:30. Wilbur and I stayed around the school house for a while, then we decided to walk down the trail to where Allen and his team will come off the Yukon River and start up the trail to the checkpoint.  We arrived at the river which was icy.  We were wondering how we can make sure we do not slip and fall on the ice, when I looked down the river, and there was Allen and his dogs coming up the river, heading toward us.  We saw him come toward us and then continue up the trail toward town.  Couldn’t have planned it better!
Musher #1 Allan Moore Heading down the Frozen River

Up the Trail

Vet Check

Allan Moore Ready to Prep the Dogs

Sleep After a long run

At 2:15 pm I walked back to the old grass air strip to watch Paige Drobney come up the trail through the woods and into town.  The sun was shining, and I have some very nice photos of her coming into Eagle.

Back at the checkpoint, I wanted to see what was happening.  It was extremely interesting to watch the mushers take care of their dogs.  They first take the booties off each dog and a wool insulator (fox tail) that was around their flanks on their tummies.  I could not figure out why the wool insulator was needed, so I asked.  It is only on the males, to make sure their penis did not freeze.  I had no idea, but it made sense in this extreme cold!  The next thing was to get straw for the dogs.  Each dog was given one section of a straw bale.  The musher just gives the dog the bale section and the dog would spread it out themselves, before they would lay down.  After the straw, Paige went from dog to dog and spent time with each one.  I was very impressed with how she handled her team.  Next came the Vets.  They worked in pairs checking the dogs completely.  I asked a former musher how they feel about the vets.  For some mushers, the vets are a problem, but for the musher I talked to, he said, “it was a cheap way to get good vet service”.  While the vets are checking the dogs, the musher is cooking the food for the dogs.  No one can help the musher take care of the dogs. The food mixture is different for each musher.  Paige had quite a concoction she made for her dogs.  She added several supplements to the food while it was being cooked.  When she fed the dogs, she added some additional supplements for each dog as they needed it.  One of her dogs was in the sled when she arrived.  Soon after arriving she pulled a bag out of the sled with the dog in it.  She took the dog out of the bag and hooked it onto the line with the other dogs.  After inquiring about this dog, we found out that the dog vomited on the trail.  Race dogs seem to have problems with stomach ulcers, and that is what they think was wrong with the dog.  The vets checked the dog, and all seemed to be fine at this time.  One of the vets gave the musher some medication to help with the ulcers, if there continued to be a problem.
Paige Drobney Coming In

Dogs Making their Nest

Massaging the Dog's Legs and Paws

Prepping the Dog Food

Feeding the Dogs

Discussing the Dog with the Vet

After the dogs ate they would curl up in the straw and sleep.  While the dogs were sleeping the musher would either get some sleep themselves or take care of their own personal things. They needed to dry any wet clothes, charge their light batteries and prepare whatever they would need until they reached the next check-point.  If the musher would like to sleep, they had a room in the old school set aside for them to sleep.  There was a chalk-board where they would write down which bed the musher was in and when they wanted a wake-up call. Of the first two mushers, Allen got some sleep and Paige did not sleep.  The school house had food for both the volunteers and the mushers.  Before the musher left for Dawson City they would cook food for the next stop.  The distance between Eagle and Dawson City was 150 miles, so the musher would have to stop two or three times on the trail to rest the dogs and feed them.  This would happen out on the trail with no check point around, it is just the musher and their dogs.  The word is that it will be -40 to-45 degrees F when they arrive at Dawson City.  Eagle has a mandatory 4-hour rest and Dawson City has a mandatory 36-hour rest.  Allan was in Eagle for around 6 1/2 hours and I am guessing Paige was there for around 5 ½ hours.  From years past Allen Moore has a history of starting out fast and not winning the race, so it will be interesting to see how things work out this year. He will have around a 2- hour lead going out of Eagle.
Vet Station in the Old School

Putting New Booties on the Dogs

Getting the Dogs up for the Next Run

Leaving the Check Point

Heading out of town

At 5:30 pm the town favorite, Matt Hall, who grew up in Eagle, arrived.  There were at least 12-15 towns people there to greet him when he came in. Matt’s parents still live in Eagle. Matt was last year’s winner of the YQ1000.
Matt Hall Coming in

We went to the new school for dinner again at 6:00.  After dinner Wilbur and I went back to the check point to see what was happening.  Paige was cooking her next meal for the dogs.  After it is cooked the musher puts the food in an ice chest, so it is ready for the next stop along the trail.  The next morning, I saw on the board that Paige left soon after 9:20 pm.  The fourth musher to arrive was Laura Neese.  Laura was working with her dogs, and the vets were already checking them, when we returned to the cabin.

The vets come from all over the world.  Cal talked with vets for North Dakota, Australia, Germany, Alaska, etc.  Vets have to be at each checkpoint 24 hours a day.  There were at least 6 vets at Eagle during the day.  The vets would fly ahead each day so there were vets on hand when the dog teams come in.  We think there are at least 24 vets committed to the YQ1000.

By 9:00pm, the fire was stoked, and we went to bed, calling it a great day!


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