Things are getting interesting on the Iditarod Trail. Check in with the race news for the latest scoop. There's so much snow that they haven't been able to establish a trail over Rainy Pass. The race pretty much stalled out, though finally there is word that some have made it to Rohn (over the pass). It's been an extremely slow year, to say the least.
Mike seems to be having his own issues as well. According to his SPOT unit he spent about four hours in the vicinity of Shell Lake Lodge. Then I got an email from Kathi Hirzinger (race director of the Iditarod Trail Invitational):
I just talked to Mike Curiak at Shell Lake Lodge, that is between Skwentna and Fingerlake.
He was drying out his gear, leaving some food and getting ready to head up the trail.
He said the conditions were wet out there, and punchy slow trails.
He is trying to lighten up his bike and heading up the trail.
I'm not sure exactly what this means. I do know that he had a very tight margin for the amount of food he carried to get him to Nome. So if it's true that he was leaving food at Shell Lake, he might be shortening his trip. It's hard to say, and we'd be speculating as to why. But that's what I'm here for, right? Speculation! I do know that the Serum Run stopped this year due to deep snow on the Yukon River. Kathi wondered if anyone in the ITI would go on to Nome this year. This might be working into Mike's thinking.
Things have slowed down today for sure. Here's his speed plot for the trip so far.
(X axis is miles. Keep in mind that these speeds are underestimates since SPOT points are not very frequent. His real speeds are likely 1-2mph faster).
It doesn't seem too heinous to me yet, though. (Easy for me to say, sitting in a warm room with no 100lb bike to drag through the snow!). He definitely experienced slower conditions (for many days) on last year's trip. But getting over the Alaska Range (through Rainy Pass) with a 100lb bike is no small feat, and it may just not be possible this year. I think he felt lucky and amazed that he made it last year.
We'll know more as he rolls down the trail. I will eventually quiz Kathi a bit more about her conversation with Mike. I don't want to bother her since she has her hands full at the moment.
PS - Google maps is loading very slow for me (if at all). I'm having trouble getting either the SPOT or TopoFusion trackers to show much. Hopefully it'll resolve itself soonly.