Day 4: Trails Come Alive Between Pelly and Dawson

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The usually desolate stretch of frozen territory between Pelly Crossing and Dawson City teemed with life today as dogs and mushers traveled through it striving to reach the rest and comforts afforded them at the Quest’s halfway point.

Matt Hall joined a resting Hugh Neff at Scroggie Creek just after 1:00am, with Allen Moore making it a trio when he arrived a half-hour later. Hall and Moore would each rest for four hours. Katherine Keith arrived at Scroggie at a quarter after 3:00am where she parked for a solid six hours of rest.

Neff departed around 3:30am to catch leader Brent Sass who was camped 22 miles up-trail, but couldn’t ever close the gap on Sass, who ran non-stop from the moment he hit the trail at 5:00am until he reached Dawson.

Hall rejoined the race at 5:30am courtesy of an Ed Hopkins wake-up call when the latter blew through Scroggie a little after 5:00am. Moore started his run over the Dome around 6:30am, and both overtook Hopkins when he stopped to camp about 7:30am. In what appears to have been some wily gamesmanship, Moore passed a stopped Hall around 1:00pm, slowed to a snail’s pace but never stopped, then when Hall passed him two hours later Moore shadowed him all the way into Dawson.
Paige Drobny was Katherine Keith’s alarm clock when she slingshotted through Scroggie at quarter to 9:00am, Keith giving chase fifteen minutes later. Keith retook fifth place when Drobny stopped to rest at noon, after which Ed Hopkins took it from Keith when she stopped to rest at 4:00pm. Keith resumed her rush to Dawson around 8:00pm.

For the fourth consecutive year Brent Sass was first into Dawson, reaching the checkpoint at 4:23pm with his team of 13 dogs. Sass said he’s asked a lot of his team but they’ve been delivering, in particular his veteran dogs, who Sass said sped up once they realized Dawson was close.

Four hours later, at 6:20pm, Hugh Neff crossed the line, giving kudos for Brent for making it first, and praise for his dog Calypso, a 5-year-old in her first Quest. Neff said his first order of business would be tending to his 13 dogs.

Matt Hall (10:08pm) and Allen Moore (10:18pm) were third and fourth into Dawson, only ten minutes separating them. Hall stated it was a long trip in, but remarked that he has been finding the cold weather “awesome.” Asked his favourite part about Dawson, Hall replied that it is knowing his team of 14 gets some well-deserved rest. Moore stated this year’s trail and conditions were the best he can recall, and said he loves the Quest because it is the closest one can get to “living like they did 100 years ago.”

Ed Hopkins pulled into town at 11:43pm, where he and his fourteen dogs were greeted by wife Michelle Phillips, herself fresh off her YQ300 win.

At day’s end the tracker shows Katherine Keith having crested the Dome; Paige Drobny beginning her Dome ascent 38 miles out from Dawson; Torsten Kohnert resting 50 miles out; Olsen, Honda, and Wilmshurst dotting the Dome approach; a “Mush Hour” scenario at Scroggie Creek, with Cooke, Dalton, Pierrard, Royer, Good, and Dos Santos Borges all resting; and Hank DeBruin recharging at Stepping Stone.

Day four also saw three competitors scratch in Pelly Crossing. After significant deliberation, Jason Campeau, Laura Neese and Ed Stielstra all ended their 2017 Quest attempts. Campeau and Neese both cited consideration for the well-being of their teams, and Stielstra stated that his decision was in support of Neese’s future racing plans and goals.

Standings as of 11:59PM:

1. Brent Sass
2. Hugh Neff
3. Matt Hall
4. Allen Moore
5. Ed Hopkins
6. Katherine Keith
7. Paige Drobny
8. Torsten Kohnert
9. Yuka Honda
10. Ryne Olson
11. Brian Wilmshurst
12. Gaetan Pierrard
13. Rob Cooke
14. Dave Dalton
15. Ben Good
16. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges
17. Jessie Royer
18. Hank DeBruin