I ended up spending a good long rest in Cripple. I was toying with the idea of dropping Camilla. Gus was a little sore on a shoulder too. Lynda Plettner recommended that if I had any doubts about them, I should drop them. She was right and I sent both dogs home. I had been told that the trail into Ruby was mostly uphill and that clearing out extra baggage in my sled bag would be a good idea. I sent home a whole whack of stuff, including my gun – I had been told that if you don’t see a moose by McGrath, you are pretty much out of the woods.
We left during the daylight, it was still warm, but I knew it would quickly cool off. I was planning to stop four or so hours in for a little break as well. The dogs had a lot of trouble leaving the checkpoint. They shuffled along without much enthusiasm for the first little bit, but as the miles passed by they picked up and by the time they came to where I had intended to stop they were roaring down the trail. I didn’t want to interrupt them while they were moving so well, so I decided to forego the rest. Thinking back, that might have been a bad move, but who can know for sure.
Along this stretch of trail I saw more moose signs then anywhere else on the Race. I was wishing I had my gun when it occurred to me that not only had I MAILED my gun back to Willow through the US Postal System, but also, it was LOADED. My stomach lurched at my stupidity! I was going to have to advise Race Officials of my mistake when I got to Ruby.
I had lots of company on the Trail. I traveled with Vickie Talbot and Kevin Kortuem for a bit and Edward De La Billaire and I were together for the last bit into the checkpoint. The school kids of Ruby have the greatest treat for mushers as they come into town – beginning 10 miles or so prior to Ruby, the kids line the Trail with signs of encouragement for the mushers. The good luck wishes and cheerful drawings can help even the sleepiest mushers along the Trail.
The last bit into Ruby is a plowed, icy road. I was stomping on my brake for everything I was worth to keep the dogs under control, but to no avail. They missed the corner into the checkpoint and ended up coming in via a back way. My brake was bent all to heck, and my nerves frazzled from the out of control ride, but we had made it to the Yukon!