Midday Wednesday, John Baker was in the mix of a pack of mushers heading on the longest stretch of the 2015 Iditarod trail, the 119 mile stretch from Tanana to Ruby. Baker says the longer stretches of trail, new country, and cold temperatures are taking their toll. “I’m tired, more tired than I should be.”
But he’s happy with his team, and see them holding up well, despite a little downturn in energy. “The dogs hit highs and lows during the race, and right now they’re going through a little bit of a low, so tomorrow they’ll be feeling a lot better than today.” Baker comments the trail is slow-going due to high snowmachine traffic churning up what would otherwise be harder packed snow. Planning his mandatory 8-hour rest in Ruby, he was aiming to get to Huslia for his 24-hour layover, but has Galena as a back up due to the slow trail conditions.
At 60 miles after Tanana, Bethel’s Pete Kaiser thinks the soft trail could be due to the fact that the trail was put in, not a regularly-traveled village trail. With more traffic, the trail softens up.
When it comes to strategy, Pete says there are so many different ways to choose to move. He thinks the faster teams at the end are those that go a bit slower at the beginning. Hoping to maintain a steady speed, Kaiser admits that the race has only just begun. “We just started the race. There’ s a long way to go, and there’s a lot of different ways to do this.” Pete plans to see how the trail pans out before he chooses where to stop for his mandatory 24-hour layover.