It was an action-packed day at the Dawson City checkpoint, as the leaders of the 2014 Yukon Quest finished their 36-hour mandatory layover, while the middle of the pack arrived at the halfway point to enjoy some down time – and perhaps a cold beer or two.
As the first musher to arrive in Dawson, Brent Sass was also the first one able to leave. At 11:02 am, Sass team hit the trail bound for Pelly Crossing with a two-hour and a half hour lead on second place musher Allen Moore. Hugh Neff was almost an hour and a half behind Moore, leaving at 2:55 pm.
“There’s a lot riding on this one, guys,” Brent told his lead dogs just before departure.
His dad Mark gave him a big hug and told him to be careful. His response? “Being careful isn't the problem dad, it's being fast!”
As of 11 pm Thursday, Brent was still moving just seven miles out of the Scroggie Creek, while Moore was camped 30 miles from the dog drop. Neff was trying to make up time on Moore, 38 miles from Scroggie and closing.
Thursday’s first arrival was John Schandelmeier, who pulled up at 2:11 am. John spoke about the fact he’s running a rookie team. He said they’re learning and he's learning even more than them out there. John will be eligible to leave Dawson at 2:11 pm Friday, in sixth place.
Ken Anderson is also running a young team this year. As they made their way into Dawson at 1:53 pm, Ken was all smiles, saying it was a very relaxing run. He said it's weird not being in "race mode", aka the top five, but he made a goal to use this year's Yukon Quest as a training run for his team.
Rookie Torsten Kohnert followed Ken in just over an hour later, ready for his 36-hour layover.
“I’m probably good with some food, a shower…and probably a beer.”
Mushers Work Together to Travel the Trail
Curt Perano and Dave Dalton were the last two mushers to arrive in Dawson Thursday, and after a tough 50 miles of trail, both had stories to tell. Perano, a rookie, and Dalton, a veteran, worked together after losing their way on the trail.
“The trail was blown over and we actually lost the trail for a couple of miles,” said Perano. “We ended up snowshoeing across the river to find our way back.”
Dalton worked with several other mushers to get through the challenging spots between Eagle and Dawson, such as going around overflow and breaking trail.
“You have to work together to get through the rough spots,” he stated.
Four other mushers were on their way from Eagle to Dawson. Brian Wilmshurst, Jerry Joinson and Mandy Nauman were still travelling together down the trail, about 44 miles out.
Hank DeBruin was resting at 40-Mile, while current Red Lantern musher Tony Angelo continues to relax in Eagle.
Cody Strathe and Matt Hall, the fourth and fifth teams to arrive in Dawson, enjoyed their 36-hour layover. Strathe is set to leave at 7:55 am Friday and Hall can leave at 12:01 pm.