Good morning. I've just come on duty for the day, and am enjoying that wonderful first cup of coffee while I catch up on the news, especially news from the Yukon Quest race trails. Today is "hump day" for me. I've completed my first of two weeks of duty, so I'm over the hump, and I'm half-way toward my next R&R.
Meanwhile, the mushers in the Yukon Quest 300 are nearing completion of their race. Gerry Willowmitzer crossed the finish line in first place last night at 9:23 pm, Yukon time. Ed Hopkins came in second at 11:18, not quite two hours later, with a dog in the sled bag. Mathias Beck took third place, arriving pack in Pelly Crossing at 5:10 this morning. I'll try to keep abreast of things as the remaining Quest-300 mushers come in.
Frontrunners in the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest are well into a portion of the trail known as a big communications black hole. They are in a forested and mountainous region where GPS satellite contact is spotty at best, and where other methods of communication just don't exist. So, this morning we get a caveat with our coffee - the caveat being that I am writing based on the best available information, but my impressions may not be entirely accurate.
The big question for the morning is "Where the heck is Hugh?" Live Tracking data from Hugh Neff's SPOT satellite messenger stopped more than 7 hours ago. At that time it indicated he was at the Scroggie Creek dog drop. Given the incredibly fast pace that he's been maintaining thus far in the race I would suggest he probably stopped to give his dogs a well-deserved break, but for how long, and where he might be at the moment, is subject to pure conjecture. The leaderboard doesn't provide any additional information. It appears that even though some mushers have passed the Scroggie Creek dog drop, the leaderboard hasn't been updated to show either their arrival or their departure times.
Live Tracking currently shows Hans Gatt in first place, which is possibly accurate. Last night Hans was running an hour to maybe an hour and 1/2 behind Hugh. If Hugh stopped to rest Hans would have easily overtaken and passed him. At the moment it appears that Hans in heading into the Black Hills, with a six or 7 mile lead over the next racer. Live Tracking indicates that Ken Anderson, Brent Sass and Sebastian Schnuelle are running close together in pursuit of Hans. It appears there is a pretty large group of mushers, too closely spaced to determine indiviual names, all parked at Scroggie Creek. I'm betting that our missing Mr. Neff is among them, along with Allen Moore, Michelle Phillips Wade Marrs, Dallas Seavey and perhaps Dan Kaduce. It appears that Josh Cadzow is abreast Grizzly Dome approaching the dog drop.
I'll try to keep an eye on the race this morning and keep up the blog as things progress.