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.

Aliy surveys the campspot; Moira shovels (that’ll get you warm!); Mark puts the frame together

Et voilà

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.

12 Responses

  • I love this part of the race!! It definitely sets it apart from "that other" big race…..handlers get to help while the Musher gets some well deserved rest. How wonderful is that!! Bet you all can't wait to get your hands on the Team for 36 hours of TLC!! Glad to see the race went back to 36 hours instead of 24.

    We are glued to the Tracker…..the Black Team is doing GREAT!!

    Awesome job with the camp spot SPK Crew….the dogs will no doubt appreciate your efforts!

  • Hey – I'd be a little nervous about this re-route as well. I was interested that they think there is enough ice to run the dogs on the river, though.

    That must mean there is plenty of solid ice at the edges?

  • The doggy spa looks awesome! The Dawson Dog Camp is one of my favorite things on this blog. At -28 degrees I might volunteer to shovel snow. At the moment Allen is at mile 394 and I know you all will be glad to have him arrive, Hope you all get to recoup some during the 36 hour layover. As always, thanks for keeping us up to date. Watching from central Oklahoma where we were 74 degrees today, Boo!

  • All this wonderful race excitement is made possible by fantastic race volunteers and even more fantastic dedicated handlers and ground crew. Thank you so much everyone.

  • Beautiful!
    The team is so lucky to have all of you there working so hard to make them comfortable.


  • Moira, I can't believe you find time to post these blogs with all of your other handler responsibilities. You give such great detail and really draw us in to all aspects of the race. Had the tracker up all day on my 2nd monitor at work. The ol' refresh finger is going strong, even at this point in the race. Hope Allen and the pups have a good rest and get their 2nd wind for the 2nd half. Go SPK! All the best from here in Erie!

  • Great job you all! The camp looks so comfortable and safe!!! The athletes, both human and canine, will get a great, well deserved rest!

  • Those pups sure deserve the pampering, but I wonder…does Allen get foot rubs and the like as well? I mean food and shower are good and all, but a massage…mmmm
    Rest team Rest!

  • It is amazing how you can transform space into comfortable space for the team. Do you change off who stays in article tent? I would be Leary of ice bridge also Moira. Allen and team should arrive soon, and then the fun begins.

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