The mushing trails throughout Alaska as well as the Yukon Territory are constantly changing. Mother Nature is a powerful force in both the summer and winter. Summer storms and flood will often wash out sections of trail and make them impassable the following winter. Winter freezing and thawing temperatures as well as overflow creates problems on many trails.
Mushing trails are like dirt roads through the backwoods – constantly changing and you never know what you are going to run across until you get there.
For that reason, most of the race routes are first looked at by trail breakers who drive snow machines along the entire trail. They can reroute sections, cut up downed trees and look over unsafe areas.
Ryne Olson, Tom Lesatz, Ketil Reitan and Aliy went east on the trail towards Angel Creek and the Yukon Quest ‘Two Rivers’ Checkpoint yesterday. The trail only needed one reroute and some brush cleaned out. The Chena River crossings are safe as well. The trail is now marked for the Two Rivers 200 passable for the Yukon Quest.
Later this weekend, more trail breakers will head north to Chatinika Lodge on the Steese Highway – the starting point for the Two Rivers 100/200 – and hopefully mark that route. The race trail section through the heart of Two Rivers will be looked at closer to Race Day.
In other parts of Alaska, the Iditarod Trail Committee has deployed a ground crew of six to work the trail between Skwentna and Rainy Pass Checkpoints. They will also cut and mark a new trail section around the west side of Round Mountain.
Later this month, another team of six trail breakers will set and re-mark the trail between McGrath and Shageluk. It’s been 5 years and a few forest fires since the race last ran that section of trail.
Lots of work going on as well as dog mushing!