Stage 6 – Tragedy Strikes

I know it’s hard to believe, but the trail was blown over and deep, once again!  Dogs were literally up to their bellies breaking trail and at times saw 4 foot drifts.  They had promised us a groomed trail and when we arrived we were told they knew the groomer had done 2 miles and that’s all they knew.  Bruce’s team took off out of the chute like a bullet, but he immediately saw issues with Ivan.  He finally had to bag him because he was really struggling and ran 34 miles with him in the bag.  It was an exhausting day, but he still finished in 8th considering all the issues.  There were at least 3 or 4 teams that had bagged dogs today and mushers were drained and disgusted with having to run another bottomless trail.

We left Kemmerer to very bad roads and were cruising along when  the caravan stopped and we saw Anna Anderson get out of the truck and run into the highway.  Then we saw a dog.  Mary Gilbertson got out and was also trying to help catch the dog which avoided capture and took off over the fence and up into the mountain.  We were perplexed and thought a dog had jumped out of someones truck.  A car then stopped and told us a musher’s truck had rolled on the highway up ahead.  The caravan waited for a while to see if the dog would come back, but it did not.  We proceeded and came upon a horrible scene.  Mark Stamm’s truck and trailer had rolled and were laying on their sides in the ditch and their were ambulances and police cars everywhere.  Every single musher/handler/official/vet in the caravan got out to help.  We were pulling dogs out of the trailer and putting them in any available dog box we could find.  We were able to retrieve all 23 dogs from the trailer and all were healthy, but very scared.  We all dug through the snow to retrieve all their personal belongings and Mark’s wallet with all his money.   They apparently had hit a patch of ice and lost control.  All three passengers were thrown from the vehicle.  The driver is in the hospital with a broken jaw and femur and his son is in the hospital getting scanned for brain injuries.  Mark, who had been sleeping in the back, escaped unscathed, but very scared and upset.  A local musher, Clint Hallum, came through and took 21 of the dogs to his house and put Mark up until he could get things straightened out.  We have one of the dogs and the Swingley’s have 2 that are slightly injured and will be monitored by the vets for the next day.  It was a day full of drama, but it allowed us all to forget the petty crap from the previous days and everyone pulled together to help a fellow musher and it was very touching to experience.  At the musher’s meeting tonight we learned they got a foot of snow at the mountain this morning and weather was expected to be bad tomorrow.  Looks like another day of trudging and we will be lucky if we can get there becuase they have been shutting down the highways around here every couple of days………………we can’t wait 🙁

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