I have carried a hand held video camera on the race for years now. Honestly, I don’t always think “Gez, this is gorgeous… I need to take a video!” But, I really did try to capture some amazing portions of the Iditarod Trail this year.
There are 13 videos in the ID: AliyCam 2016 Series.
This video is short but really, really neat. I could only start recording after the light of the day made it’s way to the camera lens. I wish I could have videoed in the dark because that was impressive.
We made our way through Ruby and down onto the Yukon River. We were the second team on the trail at this point until we passed Brent Sass – camped just outside the village. From here, to Galena, the trail hadn’t been traveled by another Iditarod dog team. We were the first. This is good (a winning team by definition is the first on the trail) and this is bad (the trail is not always an obvious route to follow).
The trail was not obvious and there were few signs of previous snowmachine travel. It was on a sheet of slippery Yukon River glare ice. The ice was covered with an inch of fresh snow. So, as we started down river, the dogs (and I) assumed that we would have traction. Nope!
The trail markers were either drilled into the ice or water had come up and frozen around their bases. As well, this section of river hadn’t frozen well and there were many open water holes. One had claimed the life of a man traveling by snowmachine earlier in the winter. So, following the marked trail was paramount.
We were on most of this section of trail in the dark. We weaved this way and that with the team actually showing some fearful energy as they slipped and I hollered directions. It was a bit unnerving.
So, I dropped my chains under my runners (my brake did little to slow the team) and we stopped. I told everyone to just relax. I decided to put Mismo in single lead. He was really shining right then and he didn’t seem too concerned about slipping and sliding on the ice. For the next hour, he obediently trotted down the trail, watching and listening as I scouted for the reflective trail markers with my headlight and then and “Geed” and “Hawed” him directions. He’s no dummy, so he started to pick up on the visual clues and would steer the team toward the reflectors before I would command him. I have to admit there were a few “Haws” that he was convinced should have been “Gees”. In the end, not only did we get safely down the trail but we laid down an excellent track for all the other 80 plus Iditarod teams to follow.
Mismo says “You’re welcome.”