If Chicago is the windy city, then Wyoming is the windy state. The wind is so fierce here it can make a sane person crazy. Good thing I’m crazy already. It was in the teens this morning and the roads to South Pass were a sheet of ice. It was fairly calm when we arrived and after the teams left, the winds kicked up something fierce. It was definitely a sit in your truck kind of day. I tried to straw the dogs and that was only semi-successful. I think I strawed a few other trucks inadvertently as the wind carried half of each flake into the wild blue yonder. Did you know a chunk of straw is called a flake? Me neither. I learned that this year from my Wyoming friends. Anyway, it was so windy I watched a shovel and poop bag go sailing by. It reminded me of the Wizard of Oz when all the stuff goes sailing by in the tornado except instead of witches we have poop bags.
The trail was hard and fast and the mushers were fortunate enough to not have to deal with the wind the entire run. They ran through patches of wind and then it would be gone. Bruce left with Spike, Targhee, Cora, Sparrow, Drift, Durbin, Perry, Piney, Prince and Breeze. Everyone was in good shape and they ran a really nice first half. The second half they quit climbing the steeper hills, but were still handling the flats and rollers with speed. Bruce was certain he lost time today on the two big climbs. He felt he had a good run, but not a great run. Gee, yesterday we were thrilled with the climbing; sure wish we’d make up our minds! Many of the teams had good solid runs and everyone was in relatively good spirits. When Will Kornmuller came in he was beside himself with happiness. He loved the trail and thought it was just like home and the dogs just rocked it with a great run. I didn’t want to burst his bubble, but I told him to enjoy the memory of the trail while it lasted. Little did I know of what was in store for tomorrow.
Unfortunately, we lost another competitor today when Stacy Teasley scratched. The Moosher God had it out for her today and she decided enough was enough. She had a dog show an injury within the first 10 miles and she had to make the tough decision to bag the dog for the remainder of the run or turn around. She had just bagged a dog for a great deal of an earlier stage and she was concerned about stressing her young dogs unnecessarily. She stopped think over her situation and then decided to turn them around. While doing so the injured dog got into a fight with her leader and was biting her in the rear end. This resulted in a huge tangle. As the mess was being sorted out the two leaders got unhooked and took off. Fortunately, there was a snowmobile there and Stacey hopped on and chased down her leaders while they watched her team. She then had to transport them back to the team on the snowmobile hoping they would get along through the trip. By the time she got things all sorted out she was done. We will miss her bright, cheery face everyday
Our team checked out ok, but we need to rest a couple dogs. It was another 2 hours in the car back to Big Piney and the wind was rocking. The place we normally feed was too soon and so we carried on thinking we’d find another place. We pulled over and when I got out I told Bruce that we couldn’t feed in this wind, but he was determined. I thought I had walked into the vortex of a tornado. I stepped into the trailer and the wind was blowing so hard it sounded like someone was beating on the trailer. There were whistling noises everywhere. We hauled all the pails out and then all our bags and containers of magic potions and powders. When we opened the first container; powder went swirling everywhere. Half the scoop wound up in the wind. We got some into the pail and then it was like watching a little mini-tornado in the bucket as the powder swirled about. We had to put the lid on it to keep it in the bucket. I had powder up my nose and all over my clothes. The dog pans were blowing all over. I entered crazy and told Bruce we couldn’t feed here. The dogs were as quiet as church mice. They had no interest in coming outside; even for food. So we carried on until we got to the motel and the winds were calmer.
Right now this is the closest Stage Stop we can recall. Aaron Peck has held the yellow bib for three days and is within 5 minutes of Buddy Streeper. This is turning out to be quite a race. The mushers were informed that due to the high winds there was currently no trail in Big Piney. It has a base, but everything they had done to the trail thus far was blown to smithereens. They told the guys to expect potential 2 foot drifts and patches of hard fast trail. They expect it to be a long day and a slug fest. Even better they said that Kemmerer will be worse. Gosh, this is starting to feel like the year of the epic storm. Looking forward to tomorrow; not!
We spent a few hours after the banquet working on dogs and assessing who was in good shape to go tomorrow. At this race every time you drop dogs you’re in for a surprise. The dog that looked great when he came in suddenly is limping. The other dog that looked good has a swollen foot. What is behind door number two? Will it be a healthy dog or a gimpy dog? Will the dog bounce out of the box or will he roll over on his back and give you the look? It gives a whole new meaning of dropping dogs when you have to hold your breath every time you open a door. The trail conditions throw a new twist into the plans and we expect that it is really going to wear on the dogs. We’ve seen this trail be a complete nightmare where you had to have a leader that would break trail because there was none. We’ve seen where the snowmobile couldn’t stay ahead of the teams due to the drifts. It should be a very interesting day tomorrow. Stay tuned.