It was a beautiful day in Big Piney. The morning was very cold in single digits, but the sun came out and stayed just perfect. The Big Piney trail was just like it always is with NO base! It was a snowmobile track and a half wide and punchy. If you got off the trail, you went up to your waist. Trying to pump was futile at times because you would sink 8-10″ in the snow. They cut out a large climb in the end and the turn around was incredibly deep. Many teams had issues on the turn around due to the deep snow. Bruce’s team cut to the inside and he fell off the trail and then got drug. He couldn’t stand up because the snow was so deep and had to command his leaders to keep going so he could get drug back onto the trail and get his footing. John Stewart had a big tangle and was swimming through the snow trying to get things straightened out. There were plenty of teams that had issues on that turn. The deep snow also caused the first scratch of the race. Krista Halnes’ team got off the trail and followed a snowmobile track. She could not hook down her 12 dog string nor slow them. She got lost for quite some time and when she finally got back to the main trail she made the decision to scratch. She was devastated and felt she let her team down. I think she is a very brave gal and did the best she could in scary conditions.
Bruce had a clean run and moved up to 5th. He led with Billy and Cheyenne and they were machines. The rest of the team consisted of Slim, Mikka, Ivan, Epson, Perry, Umea, Utah, Sedona, Vail and Shiner. They came in looking great. They all have sore feet and we are unable to keep them healthy in this snow without bootying. It was kind of funny at the finish because Frank announced that the next team would be Lina and then Sam and Kate. So we were all watching and the guys with binoculars couldn’t make out the bib #. The musher was crunched down or hanging over the handle bars. Then everyone is guessing, “Oh, looks like Sam. No, Sam would be pumping.” All sorts of names were getting thrown out. When they said the musher was hanging over the handlebars it struck me it might be Bruce and sure enough it was! We all started laughing when we realized it was him. He claims he wasn’t hanging over the handlebars, but crouching down….hmmmmm!!
The vets mentioned that there were many teams that had dogs that looked spent after today’s run so it will be interesting to see how things pan out tomorrow. It’s been a tough three days. We saw things shake up just a bit today and expect they’ll shake up a bit more in the next couple runs. Buddy is building himself a very nice lead in first place, but 2nd -6th has less than 30 minutes seperation. There were a couple teams that had good runs and mixed things up a bit. In addition, during the driver’s meeting it was announced there would be a penalty/warning for one team that did not bag a dog, but had it riding on top of the sled bag. This could change the standings if there is a time penalty issued.
Alpine is expected to be the same trail as last year. There will be a base and we expect it to be a faster run.