With dogs that “know where we are” and look “so strong,” Jeff King hit the Norton Sound coast Saturday night. He arrived into Unalakleet at 7:29pm with 12 dogs.
Talking with KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen inside the Unalakleet checkpoint, the musher was relieved to be taking a layover amongst Iditarod 42′s front of the pack. “I’m glad I caught up with the leaders,” he said. “I haven’t seen them since… ever.”
With Laureli, King took a few minutes from his dinner to talk about his rest strategy and the trail coming into the checkpoint. Even though the snow cover on the trail has become thin, again, with patches of very slippery ice leading into Unalakleet, King said the trail heading into the Norton Sound coast wasn’t too bad – and certainly nothing like the treacherous conditions early in the race.
“Coming off of the (Farewell) Burn and the (Dalzell) Gorge this year,” King said, the trail on Saturday was “nothing.” Not a big deal. There’s “often,” he said, “not a lot of snow here.”
As for rests, King seems to have brought a fairly well-rested team onto the coast, with confidence for his resting decisions earlier in the race. “I’m very glad I took my 24 in Ruby,” he said. “If I had any doubt (then), I don’t now.”
Hear Jeff King in Unalakleet:
Jeff King arrived into Shaktoolik in 2nd position at 4:46am (Daylight Saving Time), having made the run from Unalakleet in 5 hours 49 minutes: 14 minutes faster than Aliy Zirkle. At the time of writing, King is still in Shaktoolik on a layover.