2017 Iditarod Race begins in my backyard

My most favorite moment can be seen below as 4 time winner and reigning champ Dallas Seavey spent his two minutes right before his starting bell by taking a moment with each of his dogs.

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For only the third time in the 45 years since the inception of the Iditarod race, there is too little snow in Anchorage to start the race.  So lucky for me, this year they started in Fairbanks, and I got to see the action up close.  You can visit my channel to see video footage of some of the mushers at the start and right before they get to the start. Here is real video of mushers at the start in 2017.  One of my favorite bits was seeing the dogs as their excitement builds right before they hit the starting line.  My most favorite moment can be seen below as 4 time winner and reigning champ Dallas Seavey spent his two minutes right before his starting bell by taking a moment with each of his dogs. He got back on his sled with just 5 seconds to spare.  I didn’t watch all the mushers in their final pre-moments, but this one was pretty great. IMG_6789

It was really fun to see how differently the mushers choose to arrange their sleds and prepare.

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Lots of people come out to cheer on the mushers, not just here at the start but out on the rivers and at towns all along the route.  IMG_6774

My first vantage point was at this picture above.  I was right at their first downhill turn where they can start to pick up speed.  Mushers need to be careful controlling their sleds so they don’t tip or run into the crowds of people.

After watching the first mushers head out, I walked closer to the official start point, where mushers hug their loved ones before heading out on a long and dangerous adventure.  IMG_6790IMG_6785

The dogs are so excited to get running IMG_6772

and we all LOve Alaska!IMG_6756

It’s fun to see everyone come out and support the efforts of these mushers who love their dogs and carry on the spirit of the first great race, where lives were saved.  IMG_6814IMG_6797

170206 CC ski to a remote cabin in AK

I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls.

This past weekend we skied 5.7 miles to a remote DNR cabin we’d reserved out by the Chena Hot Springs in Alaska.

The last time I did something like this was in 2007, my first winter in Alaska. That time it did not end so well.  I arrived to a tiny cabin full of skies and people I didn’t know and quickly realized my “winter gear” of a wool vest and wool skirt were not pro gear for the 11 mile (one way) ski up and down steep terrain.  They had special names for the “type” of cc ski we would need for this adventure.  I had gotten mine a month before at the Play It Again Sports shop in town for about 30 bucks (poles and all)…needless to say someone winded up coming back on a snow machine for me long after everyone else had glided smoothly to the cabin and were busy warming up.

So this time we took it easy.  We got a slow easy start to the morning and ran a few last minute errands.  We ended up hitting the trail around 3 pm and were super happy to discover it was groomed. I tried to phone for trail conditions, but the line is down on the weekends…oops.  As it was the temps were mild hovering around 0 degrees. ( I know this sounds cold if you don’t live here, but remember it’s a dry cold in the interior, so that offsets things.)  The outset looked like this

The granite tors were behind us and sloping hills in from each side.  It was beautiful and didn’t take long to get beyond the sound of cars from the road.  We saw one other skier heading in with a sled towed behind heading for Lower Creek Cabin.  He must have made good time because we never saw him again.  The only other people we saw were about 1.5 miles in and headed back to the parking area on two snow machines each towing a load of kids on sleds having a blast!

We got into a bit thicker trees covered in some fun, fluffy snow formations and a few small portions where it felt like being in a winter wonderland cathedral with the slim trees arching over the pathway.  Rabbit tracks could be seen now and again crossing over the path.

After passing Lower Angel Creek Cabin at about 3 miles in the sun was getting low behind the hills and the conditions for skiing were a bit colder, but also smoother.  There were less straight shot passes and a bit more small hills to keep things interesting.  At this point I got into a bit of a rhythm, and started cruising for the cabin, trying to arrive before dark.  But then I lost track of Taylor so I was torn between trying to get there fast and not being worried that he had been plowed over by a mama moose.  He caught up to me and we arrived to the cabin after 6pm, thankful to find it was still a bit warm from the people who had stayed the night before.  Temps around 50 degrees F inside as we set to stoking and stocking the wood in the sweet little wood stove.  Fortunately people had left fire starter logs and extra wood behind so we didn’t have to start scrounging for dead wood to saw down after the long ski.  We just used a small bit of fire start and saved the majority for people in need arriving to an entirely cold cabin.  I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls (I’m so sad this company is no longer manufacturing, they were the best!).

For dinner the plan was wild rice soup with dried ground turkey…but we tried to use turkey dried this summer for a trip to the boundary waters, and it had gone stale… so yuck! I will eat almost everything, but this did not make the cut.  So instead we stuck to cookies, rum cream and fireball with summer sausage and cheese to keep us a float.  The morning was better with power waffles (no wheat and some cottage cheese. I will have to have Taylor share the recipe as they are real good and filling.) We made them before the trip and froze some to just reheat on the stove and eat with homemade yogurt and some maple syrup. Luckily one of the far windows was a bit leaky and that ledge acted as fridge for a few of our sensitive food items (like the quiche we ate on the way in and out and some tuna we mixed up for seaweed rolls)

Above you can see us packing up again out bags on the sleeping platforms, (yes we did use sleeping pads for comform) and we were on the trail by check out time noon, and headed toward a relaxing soak at the Chena Hot Springs as our follow up.  I was a little slower the second half of the way out but it took us about 3 hrs each way and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.  No wind and mild temps.  Glad we didn’t book for this weekend though, as temps dip back down to -30 today!  Here’s a few pics from the ski out.

170126 Photography-Fairbanks, Alaska

I need some outside eyes to tell me which, if any, of these are captivating.

I would love feedback on these.  It’s hard for me to be objective, because somehow I see right through the photos to the moment as it had been when I took the photo.  I need some outside eyes to tell me which, if any, of these are captivating.  Through repeated feedback from others I hope to gain a more critical eye.  These were taken on Thursday 1/26/17 a little after 4 p.m.  So fun to finally be feeling the lengthening of the sun light again.  Inklings of spring begin. img_6425img_6429img_6426img_6427img_6424