It was a long day for handlers and members of the media at the Pelly Crossing checkpoint. Throughout the day, dodgy internet connectivity played havoc with those giving and getting information. When Dave pulled into Pelly Crossing at 2:26pm, only some of the laptops in the Community Center were able to relay the information to eager race fans.
During an interview with Fairbanks radio station KUAC, Dave called the trail conditions “ideal”. “Cold, but not too cold and the trail is hard-packed snow.” At the moment, Dave is running in the middle of the pack, chasing Hugh Neff along with everyone else. Though there is no mandatory rest for mushers at this checkpoint, many take advantage of the facilities for a hot meal and a little shut-eye. In a 1,000-mile race, there are several strategies, depending on the weather conditions and terrain, that drivers will adopt. Neff has started at a blistering pace leaving many to wonder if he can maintain it. As a 20+ year veteran, Dave knows exactly what he wants to do and that is to hit the summits (there are four, altogether) with a rested and health team.
Pelly Crossing is home to the Selkirk First Nation of Northern Tutchone people and many are volunteers helping Quest followers. It is a testament to the Quest logistics team that they can pull so many people from disparate walks of life. Inside their Community Center at the “Questaraunt”, they serve up Alaskan delicacies like Moose Stew and salmon. As with all stops along the trail, mushers eat for free.
After a five hour layover, the Dalton Gang rejoined the race and are now on their way to Dawson. This is the longest distance between checkpoints, 201 miles. The only viewing possible is from the air. As his handlers, we’ll be heading out in the morning. It should take Dave nearly 24 hours of mushing to get there. We’ll do it in four.
In the meantime, here’s a video of several mushers leaving Carmacks and heading to Pelly Crossing…