Monday, 6 August 2001

August 6, 2001 Koyuk to Elim

Koyuk, in my books, rates as the friendliest checkpoint on the trail. For the first time, not only was I the last team on the trail, but also the rest of the teams had already left the checkpoint when I got there.

Despite that, a good crowd was there to greet me. My, now rising, spirits were further lifted by the terrific welcome I received. Kids came by asking for autographs and I handed out a bunch of little Canada flag pins that I was carrying in my sled. One of the locals brought by the most wonderful pots of homemade soup. YUM! I shared a big bag of beef jerky with them in return. As it turns out beef is a fairly 'exotic' meat along the coast of the Bering Sea - it was fun to see how much they enjoyed it.

The dogs were looking terrific. Mannie had been a little off, but the vets helped me find a small split on his foot that was probably causing him some discomfort. Now that I had found it, I was able to actively treat him and keep him bootied, which would bring him back around immediately! Everyone ate very well and seemed very happy and content with a full meal in their belly! They all got extra scratches and rubdowns. I can't tell you how nice it was to be sitting in Koyuk with 15 healthy, happy dogs.

While getting ready to leave, I made a bone head, 'Karen' mistake (that it looks like I will always carry a scar for) - I went to cut a piece of electrical tape joining a set of lithium batteries and took off the tip of my left thumb in the process. I was more angry with myself then anything, but the bleeding just didn't want to stop. One of the vets did a fine job of pressure wrapping my thumb to try to stop the blood flow. Before I left, less then ½ hour later, blood had soaked right through the bandages and I had to get it rewrapped. I had to cut and modify my liner gloves to accommodate my bandaged appendage. The checker also had to do up my parka as it was too awkward to do up a zipper. I did manage to figure out a system for putting on booties but was especially thankful for my team's tough feet, as it certainly took some time.

The trail to Elim was much different then I expected. For the first while it ran along the edge of the sea ice, then turned up into some hills. I was dozing on my sled when we made that swing and 'snapped' around thinking I was off the trail. Luckily, I trusted my leaders, mainly Grover, enough that I pressed on forward instead of doing anything rash, like turning around.

As morning rolled around we got into quite the windstorm. Some snowmachiners were holed up in a shelter cabin along the way. I felt no need to wait it out. I snapped some pictures of the dogs with all their tails blown over to the side from the force of the wind. I was very pleased with my 'kids'. They marched along without any hesitation into the weather.

We passed through the abandon 'Old Elim' - a product of a mass move of the village years ago. Slim and his trail sweeps passed by. I had the pleasure of running into an old friend out there! In 2000 I spend several hours at the Tripod Flats cabin with another musher and a friendly couple snowmachiners that were following the Race, one of them, Bob was on his way back down the trail after going to Nome this year. He took some pictures, passed on some encouraging words, and chatted for a few minutes.

The last little bit of trail into Elim follows a road that pops up seemingly out of nowhere. It seemed really strange to peer over a guardrail at the coast below! What a spectacular day!

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