While the final stages of the Quest were playing out, the Iditarod food drop bags were due. Although the race was nearly three weeks away at that time, it is a huge logistical exercise to get them all to the desired checkpoint via the Iditarod Airforce and an army of volunteers.
It is very often said that “it takes a village” to run all aspects of this kennel. Iditarod drop bags takes that to the extreme!
Here’s a few of the tasks:
- Cutting 40-50lb blocks of poultry skins and beef, and whole salmon into snack size portions.
- Bagging said snacks into ziplocks in batches of 16
- Packing booties for down the trail – at this early stage we do not know the make up of the teams so we pack to cover a whole range of sizes for dogs that might make the team
- Bagging two different types of kibble into meal size packs
- Rolling and packing fat balls – this is pure fat that the dogs LOVE if it is cold
- Assembling vet packs to distribute down the trail. These include vet wrap, massage oil, foot ointment and athletic tape among other things. Our mushers will use these packs to replenish the supplies they carry with them
- Cooking and bagging human snacks and meals. Allen takes bacon, banana oatmeal bars and nuts as snacks plus vacuum sealed meals of chicken pesto (right), moose and sweet potato lasagne and meatballs with tomato or alfredo sauce. We also include a few unexpected treats to surprise him along the trail. Aliy takes various energy bars (thanks Clair), chicken pesto meals and other snacks. We pack freeze dried packet meals for camping stops where a microwave or oven are not available.
- Assembling hand and foot warmer packs that include hand wipes and tissues
- Counting dog coats and blankets to send to checkpoints. Aliy and Allen will also be carrying coats with them and can use these ones to replace the ones that have that might get damp or if they need heavier fleece coats or lighter wind jackets.
- Throw in spare harnesses, equipment, gloves, socks, hats and neck gators and there you have it!
Mushers must send a minimum of 50lb of food and equipment out to each checkpoint. This year Aliy shipped 1471lb and Allen 1467lb. Allen is expected to take longer to complete the race with youngsters and therefore will need more dog food while Aliy included more options for her mandatory 24 and 8 hour lay-overs hence the shipments were almost exactly the same weight.
A special thanks to everyone who contributed: Wendy, Chris, Ruth, Padee, Tami, Mykenna, Madi, Brian, Clair, Sheila, Andy, Clara, Lynne, Tom and Cindy. Also thanks to all the Red Team and Black Team members – we use some of the proceeds of our Join The Team program to fund our drop bags.
Thank you to all the Iditarod volunteers for their hard work once we gave them our near 3000lb of food and equipment.