Obviously, my improved state of mind rubbed off on the dogs. They had a mere moment of hesitation going out of Nulato and back onto the river, but after that, the trip was smooth and quick!
I was in a great mood at Kaltag, my problems of the previous day seemed well behind me. Trish Kolegar, Melanie Gould and myself had decided to ‘run together’ to Unalakleet. We decided on breaking the 90-mile leg into three sections, stopping at the Tripod Flats cabin, 30 miles or so out of Kaltag, and again at the famous Old Woman Cabin, a further 30 miles down the trail. This nice easy run/rest schedule should really pick up the dog’s moods!Leaving Kaltag was tough sledding. The trail was one mogul after another. The constant pounding was agony on my tired back and I’m sure no picnic for the dogs either! The moguls ended and a long stretch of side hills took their place. About the time our frustration levels peaked, the trail broke into the rolling Caribou Hills. Some year’s mushers are lucky enough to encounter caribou along this stretch of trail. There were none this year, but I did see a really neat antler shed under one of the trail marking tripods. I loved this section, it was pretty and interesting country. The hills were big enough to keep up our interest in what was over the next one, but not too big!
The dogs seemed to enjoy themselves too and rolled along at a good steady pace! Just before Tripod Flats I passed Melanie. When we pulled into the cabin it was occupied by two snowmachiners that had passed us earlier in the day. They said that Trish had decided not to take a break at there and had continued on to Old Woman. Melanie and I opted to stick with our game plan and fed the dogs and took a 4-hour break there. A warm cabin and nice company made the time pass quickly! The snowmachiners told us that Old Woman wasn’t the 30 miles away that we thought it was, it was actually closer then that. Melanie and I discussed not stopping there and going straight into Unalakleet, but when we arrived at the cabin early in the morning and found a bunch of teams parked there and a equal number of snoring mushers inside the toasty cabin, the temptation was too great! A few solid hours sleep felt great! The dogs obviously thought so too, even though they had had plenty of rest in the last 24 hours, they didn’t want to leave. Lynda Plettner gave me a hand getting them straightened out and back on the trail. True to form, once they got going, they traveled well.
A few miles outside of Unalakleet, a snowmachine with two people drove by. The passenger yelled out that she was my friend, Barbara ‘Dog Drop’ Schaffer, and wanted to welcome me to Unalakleet!
What a nice welcome! The dogs came in strong and happy. The vets and many race volunteers commented on how good they were looking. I was delighted! They did look good and we were to the Coast – Nome was just a hop, skip, and a jump away!!