Stage 6 – Grueling

The hard and fast trail that was promised was not to be found.  34 miles of the trail was soft, punchy and, at times, very deep and the worse Bruce has ever seen it.  The remainder was soft.  In the worst sections, dogs were falling up to their chests at points and then the trail was a huge rut from everyone riding their pads.  It was a trail where you had to be very careful not to injure dogs.  Reports from the trail came in and we were told that many dogs were being bagged.  As we watched the tired teams come in you could see that the times were very close and it appeared as if teams were coming in as if they never switched the positions they left.  Bruce’s team was strong for the first 30 and then they just got sick of the trudging and settled in and started hanging their heads.  We survived the mess without any dogs in the bag, but one very sore dog that won’t make tomorrow.  Everyone else looked good, but their feet are a mess because the snow was like sugar crystals.  The team was led by Max and Mary, Rocky and Mikka, Pepper and Quest, Anker, Billy and Sedona, Toppi and TJ.  Bruce was, once again, just amazed at Toppi.  When he got back he was barking his fool head off for food.  He seems unphased by running back to back and is on the list for tomorrow.  According to the results, Wendy Davis bagged a dog, but still managed to make up some good time to put her back into 2nd place overall.  Grant Beck bagged 2 dogs and fell way down in the overall standing.  Dave Decaro bagged a dog as did John Stewart.   Krista Halnes won the stage to everyone’s delight and Ken Josefson had a great run for 3rd place.  The overall standings are very close and it looks like we are going to battle with Wendy, Sam Perrino and Jerry Bath tomorrow.  There is only a 1/2 hour between 2nd-5th places right now and anything could happen.  This may be one of those years where we are actually racing on stage 8 instead of having fun.   So I guess tomorrow we have to throw everything we’ve got at them and just hope for the best.  We got the go ahead from the vets today on about 5 dogs I’ve been working on so that is a positive, but there is nothing more stressful than picking a dog to run that has had some soreness.  You just hope that it doesn’t turn out to be the wrong choice.  I am going to be a basket case tomorrow waiting for the team to come in.

All of the mushers are pretty whooped after today and there are several that are walking a little funny (Bruce being one of them).  The weather has been absolutely beautiful and the roads are perfect making this year a rather uneventful race given all the drama we’ve encountered in past years.  Several have e-mailed inquiring about King and his strategy and I wish I could comment, but he’s kept to himself and has even missed a few “mandatory” banquets.  Apparently, he is very sick with a head cold and Dave DeCaro has an ear ache.  As is typical of the race we have met some other real great folks and are having a great time getting to know them.  Sean and Brooke Hard are alot of fun and I’ve spent some time chatting with Brook while we do the waiting deal.  They are really enjoying the race and hope to come back again.  Sandy and Jerry Bath have been a blast and Sandy and I have had a great deal of fun as the two guys have gone head to head in a couple of stages.  John and Kathy Barron are also wonderful people full of great stories of their years of mushing.  This morning I had breakfast with Kathy, Brooke and Terry Adkins and I was enthralled at the stories they have to tell about their Iditarod adventures.  We look forward to these folks signing up again next year.    So they told us another hard fast trail tomorrow with possible snow…… should we believe them???? 

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