I've been on the tractor most of the day trying to keep both the main driveway and the one to the handler's cabin. In the meantime I've been trying to make the heater in the cabin work - and that hasn't gone very well at all.
Things seem to be going much better for my friend Aliy Zirkle, out on the Iditarod trail. The I'rod GPS tracking shows Aliy just now pulling out of McGrath, in first place. She's held that 1st position since Rohn, though last year's champion John Baker has been dogging her pretty closely the entire time. According to the GPS tracking, John is still a couple of miles out of McGrath. The leaderboard doesn't reflect Aliy's presence, so I'm not sure which to believe at the moment. According to the tracking, John is being followed by Mitch Seavey, Jeff King, Dallas Seavey, Hugh Neff, Ray Redington Jr., Paul Gebhardt, Lance Mackey and Aaron Burmeister.
If my favorite weather website is to be believed, the racers are running in weather very similar to what we have here at home. As much as I enjoy breaking trail with my team, it is not ideal for a racer. All that powdery new snow drags against the runners, increasing the energy expenditure of the team and truly slowing everyone down. Aliy's dogs are pretty small compared to some of her competitors, but she left Nickolai with all 16 on the line, while Baker was down to 15.
The trail breaking crew is well out in front of the leaders, currently 2 checkpoints ahead, and with snow falling so steadily I doubt that snowmachine track is offering a particularly good trail. I'm very curious as to where Aliy will take her mandatory 24 hour lay-over. She must take it before reaching the Yukon river, so the choices are Takotna, Ophir or Cripple.
I REALLY want to run my own dogs pretty darned soon, but from the looks of things that isn't going to be on tomorrow's agenda, either. The snow continues to fall, so will probably need to be moved and the heater in the cabin still isn't working right, so it needs to be repaired. For me, tomorrow looks like it will probably be a repeat of today. For those out on the trail the conditions and the scenery changes with each passing hour.