With Iditarod right around the corner, Ryne decided that we should go out and have some fun last weekend. Of course, our version of fun, and most other people’s version of fun differ slightly in that we were all pumped up to head out to the Denali Highway to do a 170 mile training run with the finalists for the Iditarod 2016 short list. On Friday evening, we packed up the truck, loaded the dogs and headed down the road. We decided to stay the night in the truck so that we could see the beautiful 63 mile run into Alpine Creek Lodge in the daylight which turned out to absolutely be the right choice. It was beautiful and sunny (though a bit warm) for our run into Alpine, and when we got in we were greeted by the Bondys who fed us a delicious meal and gave us a warm bed to rest in for a couple hours before we continued down the road for the run to McClaren Lodge and back.
I have to make a small side note here just to talk a little about Alpine Creek Lodge. The Bondys, who own and operate Alpine Creek, have a soft spot for mushers, and they are always so welcoming and accommodating when we arrive, whether or not its 4 in the afternoon or 4 in the morning. Even when they’re up to their eyeballs in snowmachiners and other vacationers, they always have time to catch up and whip us up a good home cooked meal. So if you’re ever out at mile 68 of the Denali Highway, stop in and say hi to Claude, Jennifer and their son Bob.
After a another quick rest back at Alpine Creek Lodge, and a half gallon of coffee for me, it was time to head back out onto the trail. We started out at 12:45 pm, the heat of the day, and heat there was! All day the sun was out and it was above freezing. The dogs were panting, and we were kicking and ski poling without parkas on and all our vent zippers down to try and keep as cool as possible. But despite the heat, it was amazingly scenic. Two thirds of the way into the run, a few clouds began to gather, and we were treated to a sunset full of stunning colors and dramatic clouds.
And of course, we can’t forget the dogs! These guys did a great job. We ran a single string of 19 dogs with a front sled and a tag sled, both were packed to the gills to feed and bed down everybody for a 175 mile trip, and it was HOT! This was some tough pulling for these guys, and they took to it like…well, like sled dogs to harness.
I’m not sure who Ryne’s final 16 are just yet, but this run didn’t necessarily make it that much easier to narrow it down. Keep checking in for more updates as the countdown to Iditarod 2016 continues!