Dawson City Feb 18, 12:08 YST -
Warren Palfrey and Martin Buser came into Dawson City within minutes of each other this morning, checking in at 9:44 and 9:55 respectively. Both mushers are rookies in the Yukon Quest but veterans of the Iditarod and were reported to be camping together on the way from Scroggie Creek to Dawson City. The teams looked strong heading onto Front Street. Both Warren and Martin were focused on bringing their teams to the campground across the river.
The 2009 Yukon Quest has special meaning this year for Warren who hails from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The 2 time Iditarod finisher is planning to race both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod this year. What makes this special is not only running the two races back to back but the symbolism that running the Quest in 2009 has for this musher. Warren is paying a special tribute to his family members who participated in the famed Klondike Gold Rush.
Over one hundred years ago in l897, Warren's Great Uncle Tom Hourie and Great Grandfather Sam Hourie traveled north along with hundreds of other hopeful men to seek their fortune. Both men worked the Chilkoot trail for months freighting goods to earn a grubstake so they could enter the Yukon. In l898 they arrived at Lake Bennett and eventually made their way down river. Sometime around l905 they found gold. Sam departed to travel the world but Tom chose to stay behind in the Yukon and ultimately passed away in Dawson City, Dec 3, l908.
So respected and well-known was Tom that the Legislative Association, on hearing of his death held a special meeting and voted to attend his funeral en masse. Prior to living in the Yukon, Tom had worked as a Métis Scout during the Riel Rebellion and was renowned for his heroic deeds. He was one of three scouts to whom Riel had surrendered and was heralded across Canada as the man who braved the icy Saskatchewan River in March, swimming across to carry an urgent dispatch.
To honor and commemorate both his great uncle who is buried in the Yukon and his great grandfather, Warren is carrying the Métis Flag and two sashes as he travels by traditional dog team across the country where his family lived and worked over one hundred years ago. The memory of their strength, stamina, and determination will act as inspiration to Warren as he faces off with his dogs for the challenge of the 2009 Yukon Quest.