Good morning. I'm enjoying the first cup of coffee of the morning, and checking out the action on the Yukon Quest trail. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of action to check out, though.
Hugh Neff arrived at the Central checkpoint at 10:27 last night, followed nearly an hour later by second place musher Allen Moore. In third place, Jake Berkowitz checked in one minute before 2:00 a.m. Brent Sass appears to be stopped, perhaps camping, at the head of Medicine Lake, which is maybe 20 miles out of the checkpoint. There is no way of knowing what's going on with that. He may be preparing to blow through the check point in hopes of gaining ground on the leaders, he may have run into some sort of problem, or maybe he and his dogs just got tired and decided to take a little nap. Based on the history function of the live-tracking system, he's been there for a couple of hours now.
In fifth place, Scott Smith left the Circle checkpoint half an hour before midnight, and is just getting a good start on the Birch Creek section of the trail. According to the Quest leader board, Markus Ingebretsen is still at
Slaven's, but communications with that outpost can be spotty. His SPOT
tracker shows him on the trail heading toward Circle ahead of Abbie West
and Normand Casavant.
The quote of the day is from Jake Berkowitz. “If I finish in third place, that’s great,”
said Berkowitz. “If Brent catches me, then fourth place is great. To be
honest, I don’t think Brent is looking for me. He’s looking for Hugh.” Knowing Brent, I think Jake is probably correct.
Misha Pedersen is the fifth musher to scratch from this year's Quest. Misha signed the scratch form after returning to the checkpoint. Apparently she determined that her team was unable to complete the race.
There is a very nice article about the front-runners as they approach Eagle Summit in today's Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Hugh talks about his concerns about the summit, admitting that it weighs heavily on his mind. No surprise to me, Brent admits that that is where he plans to make his move, saying “You have to have respect for that mountain, but I’m not afraid of it." Brent's teams have always performed fabulously while crossing that obstruction.
Based on the weather here at work, I'd say some respect is well warranted. It's very windy here in the high country, so there is no doubt high wind and blowing snow on Eagle Summit. We should know by the end of the day whether or not it will be a game changer for our front-runners.