Friday, 17 March 2000

Takotna to Ophir

They tell me that they used to give an award each year for the best Iditarod checkpoint, but word is Takotna used to win every single year – so they eventually just did away with the award. I can sure see why they would be perennial winners – the entire town bends over backwards for the mushers. The hospitality is terrific and the food second to none. I can see why so many mushers take their 24-hour break here. After some food, I settled down in the library to try and catch a quick nap, but I was having trouble falling asleep. I looked at my watch to see if Mark would be in McGrath by now.  The thought was no sooner out of my mind when the door to the building opened and in walked Mark and Jamie’s handler, Lori. WOW – what a terrific surprise. I was so happy to see them. I don’t think I realized just how much I missed my husband until I saw him. I asked if Spud and Smiley were safely home. He said they were and that neither was showing any signs of lameness anymore. We chatted away about the dogs, the trail, and lots more until we just couldn’t stretch the visit anymore. Mark and Lori’s pilot had to get going and I had a race to get back to. 

After they left, I was hanging around the checkpoint for a few more minutes, digesting the wonderful feed of Alaskan King Crab legs that was offered to the mushers when someone mentioned that there was shower facilities available here. I was humming and hawing over that idea when musher Bob Hempstead piped up and said I should shower. He said he had and he felt great. That was all the push I needed. An hour later, showered, dried, stuffed with good food, and in high spirits we rolled out of Takotna.
The dogs left strong. Like I had hoped, the short run from McGrath and a rest here picked up their spirits too. 

The trail into Ophir is basically an old mining road – easy sledding, except every now and then, on the inside of tight turns it would drop dangerously over the bank.  One second I was whistling along the trail, the next I was tumbling down an embankment. The sled took about 3 rolls before stopping. I quickly shook myself off and tried to walk up the hill, but it was too steep and the snow kept collapsing under my foot. It took some major determination and work to eventually get the sled and myself back on the trail – thank goodness for my long snub line and my team that knows ‘stand/stay’ very well! 

It turns out that I had messed up my leg on the tumble. It’s throbbing kept me awake for the rest of the journey into Ophir.

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