Friday, March 11, 2011

River Runnin'

From ancient times through today the rivers have been the 'highways' of the boreal forests.  Natives used them, fur traders used them, gold stampeders used them and even today those traveling by snowmachine and even large trucks use them.  While river running presents its own set of dangers, running into trees aren't among them, which is a river's greatest virtue.  Rivers start somewhere, and go somewhere else and whether you are in a bark canoe, an aluminum boat, a birchwood toboggan or a high speed snowmachine, a river will take you from here to there.

Tonight the frontrunners in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race are out on the river, running 140 miles upstream from Anvik to Kaltag.  It's turning into quite an exciting dog race simply because there are so many excellent teams and mushers all in good position to cross the finish line in Nome first. 

The current leaderboard shows that Hugh Neff, John Baker, Lance Mackey and Ray Redington Jr all left Grayling within an hour.  Although not yet posted on the leaderboard, the IonEarth Live Race Tracking system indicates that Martin Buser and Sonny Lindner are in hot pursuit.  Sebastian Schnuelle, Hans Gatt, Robert Buntzen and Dallas Seavey have been resting in Grayling for some time, probably completing their mandatory 8 hour layover.  They'll be back on the trail very shortly.  Jessie Royer and Sven Haltman are both within a mile of the checkpoint, so should be arriving within the next few minutes.

The weather continues to be beautiful, with predominately clear skies.  We've continued to have brilliant displays of the Northern Lights, and Greg Lacey, working the night shift near the Dalton highway bridge over the Yukon River captured an image of the lights last night that provides a representation of what the racers may be seeing as they make their way upstream.

River Lights by Greg Lacey
Any of the 14 teams that are on the Yukon tonight can be considered contenders for an Iditarod championship. 

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