Yesterday the 2011 Yukon Quest kicked off in Whitehorse, I was down at the start line and it was SO MUCH FUN!
What is it? Every February, the Yukon Quest runs 1,000 miles between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska. They alternate directions each year (so last year the Start Line was in Fairbanks and the Finish Line was in Whitehorse). Teams set out with 14 dogs, one musher and the sled. Mushers can only re-supply at 10 checkpoints along the route. They’re out there for 10-16 days, in all sorts of crazy Yukon/Alaskan winter conditions. The trail they run on is the historic routes of indigenous people, trappers traders and early gold-seekers.
There were tons of people at the Start Line
…and lots of excitement in the air!
CKRW did a kick-ass broadcast which was listened to from here in the Yukon to all over the world, kudos to the awesome news team, Tim and Steve, and “Executive Producer” Kaptain Keith.
That green thing in my hand is my cowbell! They were giving them away (hence all the cowbell noise in the videos); totally made my day- you can never have enough cowbell!
The dogs were awesome- way smaller than I thought they would be!
They are bred for Northern winters, so thrive in below zero temperatures. The mushers were actually a little worried because the weather here this past week has almost been too warm, but it was nice and cold yesterday!
The dogs were crazy excited too…
…there were people who’s job it was to hold the sled down at the start line, because the dogs were literally jumping in the air from excitement! You could see the bond between the mushers and the dogs- totally a team/pack.
OK, more pictures:
I also dressed completely inappropriate for the weather (my fingers especially were almost ready to fall off because I opted for cheap little gloves instead of mittens, for better camera-operating dexterity), so I had to run inside after the first few mushers to warm up, and repeated that until #23 crossed over the start line…so next time, wearing my parka and proper mittens! Still, it was a lot of fun, and felt definitively “Yukon”!