As if the trail itself is not challenging enough, the weather-gods have decided to join the race. They apparently looked upon Hugh Neff with favor, and supported his effort by slapping the living crap out of everyone else. Hugh arrived in Eagle at 12:08 this morning and gave his team nearly 8 hours of rest before leaving at 7:45 this morning.
If it's nasty at Eagle, it's MUCH worse up on American Summit, and it appears it has been bad enough to stall our other front runners. Currently Hans Gatt appears to be camped just below tree-line on the approach to American Summit and he's been there for quite some time. According to the live tracker Hans will soon be joined by Brent Sass, Ken Anderson, Sebastian Schnuelle and Allen Moore (in that order). Writing on the official Yukon Quest web-site, race veteran Gwen Holden speculates that the group will form a convoy to attempt crossing the summit.
Once over the summit and into Eagle, the teams will have a mandatory 4 hour layover. Meanwhile, Hugh gave his team nearly eight hours of rest before setting off Slaven's Cabin and the checkpoint at Circle City. Even if the other leading teams were to leave Han's camp right now, he will easily have a 12 hour or more lead on the second place musher. At this point it is Hugh's race to loose, but let's remember that the weather on Eagle and Rosebud Summits is even more capricious that that of American summit. The gods may smile on him today, and then give him a spanking tomorrow.
There are reports that musher Wade Marrs has turned around at the Fortymile Hospitality Stop and is returning to Dawson City. At this point no one knows the reason for the reversal, but Wade left with only 9 dogs in his team. I'll be anxiously awaiting news of what led to his decision to go back to the half-way point.
Meanwhile, red-lantern contender Christine Roalofs disqualified herself by pressing the "Help" button on her SPOT satellite messenger unit. According to the Quest website, "Christine pressed the help button on her SPOT unit. She is still approximately 38 miles outside of Dawson City. Thursday afternoon, a crew went out with extra supplies to check in on the team. The dogs were good, Christine was in good spirits, but was low on food. She accepted the supplies and was disqualified for accepting outside assistance. Her plan was to feed and rest the team and head out at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning and she is making slow progress towards Dawson."