The handler crew of Aliy, Bridgett (Allen’s daughter), Mark and I have checked in to Dawson City. It’s still pretty cool out; last I looked at the gauge on the truck it said -28F.
It is beautiful though, clear blue sky, frosted trees and open, running water in the river. What… what??? The camp ground for the dogs is over the Yukon River from Dawson City, in West Dawson. The city builds an ice bridge over the river in the winter for vehicles to get across (they use vehicle ferry during the summer months). This year the ice bridge has had to be diverted around a large open lead so we have to drive much further upstream, almost to the Klondike River to get to the other side. Right is an “artists impression” (mine) of the bridge this year. The red line is where we would normally drive, the green is very roughly this year’s route.
I always find it pretty mind bending to drive over the river at the best of times but to spend 15 minutes on a frozen river is a little nerve wracking! It is safe though and there is great science and some art to creating an ice bridge.
After driving from Pelly and a sleep in the truck, we set up the camp for the dogs under an enormous tarp. There is plenty of fresh warm straw for them to curl up in and we also set up an ‘arctic oven’ tent for the human contingent – at least one of us will be over there with the dogs once they arrive.
We’ve laid out all their dry fleece coats and blankets, got their first meal prepared and thawed some yummy fish and beef snacks for the Dawson arrival chute. We’re ready! Now we hurry up and wait for the team to arrive later tonight.
Dawson City 36 hour layover is the only time handlers can be hands on with the dogs. We let Allen rest and recuperate while Aliy and Bridgett, with help from Mark and I, will pamper the dogs from nose to tail with as much cosy sleep as they want, full body and foot massages, lots great food and walks to stretch out – all to get them prepared for the 2nd Act of this story – the 500 miles from Dawson to Fairbanks.
We’ll let you know more about that later and show you around the camp.