This stage was 100% the opposite of last year. We pulled into the parking lot and it was all gravel as were the sides of the mountains and the starting line was a thin white strip of snow with gravel on both sides heading into the mountains (Check out photos). The trail was very hard crisp ice/snow. Our intention was to go with 12; however, safety was a concern and we chose to go with 10 like the majority of the mushers. The team was Max and Mary in lead, Rocky and Cracker, Ivan and Sedona, Blizzard and Utah and Toppi and TJ. 5 miles out the punchy trail from the previous day’s stage in Pinedale started to rear it’s ugly head when Cracker started to struggle. Bruce tried to manage her, but it just got worse and he had to bag her. Then the heat came; 40 degrees with blaring sun. This turned the hard trail into mash potatoes up in the mountains. This became a trail where he should have had 12 to compete, but instead had 9 with even more weight. Needless to say the leaders went flat since the struggled with Cracker for so long and the team labored in. Everyone had issues with the heat and trail today except Mel who had a blazing fast run. Everyone commented on how awesome the team looked when they just flew by in those conditions. Bruce said watching her power up the mountains was a sight to witness. There were others that had to bag dogs and were effected by the heat. The teams started to show the wear and tear from Pinedale and there were lots of folks working on dogs. I spent a good portion of the evening massaging and working on everydog that ran. We now have our work cut out for us and need to pull it together for the rest of this race.
Handlers are starting to get a little stir crazy as we spent the afternoon entertaining ourselves with Doug Swingley’s mushing suit a.k.a. Reggie! Yes, Doug’s suit has it’s own personality and everyone has met him! You will see in the photos that Reggie and Kathy Barron are having a fling. I think for the remainder of the trip I should throw in photos of Reggie, kind of like a do you see Waldo type thing. Watch as sometimes Doug will be carrying him around on his back because Reggie is LAZY!!