96.1 FM | 780 AM | “Yours for Western Alaska”

Iditarod Mushers in Koyukuk Lament a Slow, Grueling Trail from Huslia

Wade Marrs and his sled dogs depart the Koyukuk checkpoint

Poor trail conditions on a lengthy stretch of the Iditarod route may be giving a boost to mushers at the top of the pack.

Mushers arriving in Koyukuk Saturday afternoon into the evening reported a slow, grueling trail down the 86-mile stretch from Huslia.

“It’s just like egg shells,” Jessie Royer said. “Like, if you break through, it’s very, very punchy.”

Royer made the trip with a straight run over 12 hours — in part, because she wanted to get ahead of other mushers before they tore up the trail any more.

“Any time I passed a team, it got better. So, I’m glad I’m further up, ‘cause I think it’s just gonna keep getting worse for all those teams behind.”

Royer was sixth into the checkpoint. Throughout the evening, mushers lamented to one another about the slog getting in. Explanations ranged from the trail not having a solid base layer to inconsiderate snowmachiners. However, race veteran Aliy Zirkle pointed that some mushers may have gotten a little “spoiled” after pristine conditions for much of the early legs of this year’s trail.

Dallas Seavey and his sled dogs depart Koyukuk.

Dallas Seavey leaving Koyukuk after taking his 8-hour rest. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media.

Musher Nicolas Petit feeds his sled dogs in Koyukuk

Nicolas Petit in Koyukuk feeds his dogs during a rest. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media.