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 is the last video of the series.

Welcome to the Western Coast of Alaska!
It is often very obvious, that we have arrived on the coast. That’s due to: ice and wind.
The ice. The trail transverses many, many miles of ice: ice on the ocean, ice on lagoons, as well as the occasional icy lake or icy river. Sometimes it’s rough, sometimes it’s smooth… but always ice. Sometimes, I can’t tell one icy water body from another. Especially when the it is semi-covered in snow and the dark of night limits my visibility. But, since I’ve run this route for years, I can usually guess where we are.
The wind. It’s unpredictable. You never know when it’s going to pick up and blow like the Dickens. Thankfully, the trail markers in this area are drilled into the trail, so that they will hopefully withstand most of the brutal coastal storms.

The trail into Shaktoolik is like no other section on the race. For 15 mies south of village, the trail is on a frozen lagoon that runs parallel to the Bering Sea. There is a very thin strip of land that is a barrier between the lagoon and the ocean. There are occasionally trees and bushes on the thin land mass.

This year, we traveled on the lagoon for just under 2 hours. There were many sections of complete glare ice and the team couldn’t keep their traction. It was the ultimate challenge when a 20 mph wind gust would hit us from the side, blow us across the ice, to the southwest, towards the sea. But, we would inevitably plow into the tiny strip of land protecting us from the sea. Thank you very much! How hard we hit the and mass would depend on the strength of the wind gust. We would gain control when we regained traction on the land. Then we could continue in the general direction of Shaktoolik, slowly making our way back to the marked trail.
Just another day on the Western Coast of Alaska.

I took this video on a section of the lagoon that was snow covered. YAY! So you will see no crashes. You can see the thin piece of land to the left of us. And you can feel the power of the wind gusts every so often. I do remember noticing the wind picking up in force as we neared the village. I also knew that my plan was to not stay in Shaktoolik but to head out onto the frozen ocean directly into that increasing wind.

18 Responses

  • Thanks so very much for this last video in the set "ID: AliyCAM2016" and for the excellent descriptions of how the weather affects things. This post was wonderful, as have been the others – each in its own way!!!

    Congratulation to the Red Team members (4 legs) who pulled you through to the finish in remarkable style – not to mention speed and grace.

    Again, can't thank you enough for sharing these moments with fans of SP Kennel…you guys are the greatest.

  • Aliy thank you for these fantastic videos.

    Nice one to wrap up with…the dogs are all working and focused. Your description of the area and the video really give one the feel of where you are, minus the 7 days sleep deprivation.
    What an eerie feeling traveling over the ice. The dogs are obviously draw to the white snow, and how can anyone blame them, better grip, and a much safer feel.

    Wonderful wrap of the Red team's 2016 Iditarod. If anyone asks about your 2016 Trail Notes, I would say they are right here, in living moving color, 13 awesome videos worth.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Awesome video series! Thank you so much! Loved being a part of the trail with you. Can't even imagine nada but ice. Ugh. I've also learned, I'll need to learn what Decaf looks like from behind so I can watch him in future videos!

  • Have watched them all Aliy & am truley awed 🙂 it's great fun running out 3 siberians on dry land but I'd really love to get some more miles on snow. Haven't had the sled out this year as it was raining too much over the winter. Maybe a boat would have been better but watching your video's has been a real treat 🙂

  • well that was kind of scary. thanks so much for sharing all these views of the trail that we armchair mushers would otherwise never see. it was amazing to experience a little bit of what it's like. wishing all at sp kennel a glorious summer and looking forward to following the racing season again next year. you all are amazing and aliy proved once again this year why she's so special!

  • It is so great that you took the time to get these videos. It feels like, in a small way, that we have been on the ID trail. It's such a treat to see all of this from your perspective on the sled and behind the beautiful dogs we all love. Glare ice looks ominous and it's impressive that you can navigate on it with wind blowing you sideways. It's definitely not for sissy's. Thanks again for taking your fans along on the 2016 Iditarod!

  • Aily – Thank you so much for recording these videos and sharing them with your fans. It really helps us understand the ups and downs of the Iditarod and appreciate your tremendous effort and preparation. Have fun in the off season and I look forward to seeing some summer antics.


  • Its amazing Teams can do this…yet another thing Mother Nature throws at you…wind….strong enough to blow a team around on the ice! Thank goodness for the spit of land to stop you all! And here I thought hauling an ice fishing sled on a frozen surface was hard! My goodness….awesome job getting through these trecherous areas! Glad you all stayed safe!

  • Can't wait for the red team and black team wrap ups… especially Allen's insights on the "yahoo's" who are now veterans!

  • Forgot to mention…Magnificent edit job, too – so time consuming!!! You treat your supporters so very well – WOOF, WOOF, WOOF!!!

    Thank you yet again for all the thrills and chills and moments of drama – SP KENNEL IS THE BEST!!!

    Best always!!!

  • A very big THANK YOU for taking (while operating on little/no sleep) and posting these videos. This last one gives us a real sense about what being on the ice means…….I was curious about what it was like. A huge WOOF WOOF to the superstars at SP Kennel – hope the summer brings some fun, adventures, and rest….Thanks a bunch!!!

  • And just to be sure…it seems the Red Team musher was holding the camera with one hand and navigating the twists and turns of Dalzell Gorge et. al. driving one-handed???

  • I enjoy the videos with music, but in this series was special to have Aliy's voice, and get a better feel for her experience.

  • Yikes, Made me feel a little nervous when you looked at the ice, glad the trail team can check for thickness and wind did not push any teams towards thin ice on the edge. I would be gritting my teeth!! All in knowing what you are doing!!

  • This series has ended too soon – is there a road along the narrow spit for summer travel or do villagers go by boat along the Sound between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik? Or maybe there is a summer trail on the east side of the Lagoon?

  • Thanks for showing us what it looks like to be on glare ice. Aliy you are amazing.

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