Monday, March 3, 2008

More from McGrath

I spoke with Mike late last night. He was hoping to be back on the trail this morning. I just got a single point from him, at McGrath, so I would guess that means he is on his way, or about to be. (EDIT: He is indeed moving, currently 10 miles out of McGrath at 11:20am AK time).

His tent pole shattered and he was able to fix it with a spoke for a time. But then that failed, and other poles have begun to crack (in a spiral manner). He was able to steal poles from an old tent at Peter's house in McGrath and cut them to the right size.

I didn't get a chance to ask what happened to his stove, but he didn't seem very concerned about it. He said after he hung up with me he was going to go fix it. I don't have any other details than that, sorry. Peter's house is full of folks wanting to communicate back home, so we didn't want to tie up the phone for too long.

He sounded really good, very upbeat and anxious to get back out there. The word is that there is no trail after Ophir (not far from McGrath), so he wasn't too worried about the time lost. He mentioned that Bill Merchant was joking about loading up extra food in hopes of making some money when he inevitably catches up with other racers waiting for trail to be broken in. Ha!

Other than the tent/stove, things have been working out beautifully. There are only minor tweaks he would make to the current bike/gear carrying setup. Eric's super pogies are "awesome"; he mentioned several times how comfortable his hands have been. He said that while he can lift the bike off the ground, he has to put it right back down. But he has only been forced to jettison his cargo (all panniers and sleeping bag) about four times -- mostly to cross creeks. He said it's set up such that it only takes 3-4 minutes to unload, cross and reload everything. Pretty impressive.

He broke a pedal at Knik Lake (!!) but has been using it gingerly and it is still holding. He has two spares, but doesn't want to pull them out until he has to. On the dietary side, he estimates that he's been eating about 3000 calories a day. He hasn't been finishing most of the allocated meals, so 3000 is less than the target consumption. Yet still he feels "just as fat" as when he left Knik. ! Same goes for fuel consumption -- he has 8 oz allocated but as only been using 5 oz per day. He mentioned that the first thing he does in camp is use some fuel to melt all the ice on his face. Sounds fun.

GPS is working well--he seems to be collecting a good track. He was happy to hear the SPOT is working as well, though he reiterated the caution about going outside the coverage area near the coast. We'll see how that goes.

That's the update for now. I still don't see a point outside McGrath, but I'll check back in during the afternoon.


  1. great to hear that he's heading back out. another few days and maybe he'll catch up with jay and pete :)
    mike had mentioned something to me about clumsily spilling a bunch of water on his stove his second night out near shell lake and that the stove didn't work again that night. perhaps that's still causing some of his stove trouble and maybe some time inside at mcgrath has dried it out. 3,000 calories a day seems quite low. hopefully that doesn't catch up with him too much in the coming days. and hopefully he let peter and tracey fill him up good and fat in mcgrath.

  2. WOW! Great to hear he's back at it. I know he can't hear us, but keep rockin Mike.

  3. If he's using the newer style of fuel pump on the xgk, then the tiny fuel filter can cause problems. At real sub zero temps (-20 and lower) trace ammounts of water in the fuel can form microscopic ice crystals in the fuel bottle, clogging the filter.. hard to imagine but true. You can just remove the filter though...

    that totally sucks about the tent poles. crazy.

    Split water on the stove wouldent do anything, worst case is that you might just have to let it cool and reprime it to get things going again.