Friday, March 5, 2010

Night on Rainy

Photo: Nearing Rainy Pass, February 2008

It looks like Mike stopped for the night at a point just below Rainy Pass. It appears he moved fairly steadily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and covered about 20-30 miles of ground (This is just a rough guess. Scott is probably better at interpreting distance based on the map.) Either way, that's a brutal grind of a pace, probably a fair amount of pushing if not entirely pushing over soft and wind-drifted trail. The SPOT dot shows him about a mile from the pass, at 3,200 feet the highest elevation on the Iditarod Trail. And it's not the most hospitable place to camp. Arctic winds from the Interior funnel up the narrow canyon and blast the open tundra. It's more than 1,000 feet above timberline, so there's nowhere to hide from the wind or cold. If the weather turns or temperatures suddenly plummet, it can feel as violently exposed as a high ridge on Denali.

On Friday, Mike will head down the Dalzell Gorge toward the Kuskokwim River Valley. Reports of trail conditions on the Dalzell indicated there is a lot of open water in Pass Creek and snow bridges on the verge of collapse. Of course, 20-30 ITI racers have gone through there already, so the stomped-out trail is probably fairly stable. It may even be rideable.

This long, gradual roll over a geographical weakness in the Alaska Range is definitely one of the most spectacular and scenic sections of the Iditarod Trail. Even if you're pushing a 145-pound bike, there are few better places to do it.


  1. Thanks for the update.

    Is there any way you could identify who is commenting (Scott vs Jill) in some way. I can usually figure it out, but it helps the reader understand the perspective.

    Maybe this is already here and I am missing it?

  2. Good point. I'll sign my posts from now on.

    We don't have access to change the layout/look of MC's blog, and you are right that the name of the poster is missing (though it is in the system).

    Thanks Eric.