2014 Quest Wrap Up.

My apologies for the tremendous delay in updating this site – I did keep the Facebook site updated, but neglected my duties at daltongangkennels.com.  Sorry Dalton Gang fans!

I had a great talk with Dave a few days after the race.  As we eased into conversation, Dave’s commitment to his team, above all else, was obvious in every word he spoke.  Several factors made this a difficult race for every team this year – first and foremost, the trail was hard and fast, as we dog mushers like to say.  Imagine running 1,000 miles on slippery pavement…soreness and injury is inevitable.  As the trail took it’s toll on the team, more dogs were left behind in the care of Jen and Ted.

In my experience with dogs in Alaska, a lot comes down to luck in whatever situation you and your team finds themselves in.  Regardless of the intensity of training, quality of conditioning, and positive energy amongst the dogs in your team, the cards don’t always fall into place.  This year, the Dalton Gang ran into a couple of obstacles that they couldn’t manage to bounce back from – mainly, getting soaked in overflow just outside of Circle.  Once saturated, Dave and the team didn’t ever bounce back to full strength.  Being the wise man and musher that he is, Dave slowed it down and gave the Gang the time, care, and rest that they needed.

Bashful died on the trail enroute to Pelly from an ulcer.  Dave successfully resuscitated Bashful, but she never made it to Pelly.  When Dave and the Gang arrived in Pelly, Bashful was transported to Whitehorse so a necropsy could be performed.  Losing a dog in any circumstance is ridiculously difficult, but after almost 800 miles Dave consulted with the vet team and determined that it was in the best interest of the Gang to complete their journey to Whitehorse by truck.

Bashful has been cremated and Dave plans to spread her ashes throughout her old training grounds near Healy.  Likewise, Bashful will complete her Quest next year – Dave and the Gang will carry her ashes from Whitehorse to Pelly.

Dave and the Gang express their tremendous gratitude for the well wishes, sympathy, and support before, during, and after the 2014 Yukon Quest.

Halfway to Pelly at mile 675.

Dave left Dawson on Saturday the 8th at 11:02…he’s currently tracking approximately halfway between Stepping Stone Hospitality stop and Pelly Crossing.  Curt Perano is already at Pelly, 18 miles away or so.  The closest person behind Dave is a good ways from Stepping Stone.  Doc was left behind last minute in Dawson because he was lighter than Dave felt comfortable going into some colder temperatures with. leaving dawson12 leaving dawson leaving dawson0 leaving dawson1

Pictures from Dawson!

We’re an hour from Dave’s earlier possible departure time from Dawson City – 11:02.  I’m stuck in an office watching the sun shine down on the capitol in Juneau.  Dave’s starting to get the team ready to roll after their 36 hour rest.  Bobber is going to travel to Whitehorse with Jen and Ted due to some respiratory issues.  Check out some photos from Jen!

photo 1

Handlers are allowed to construct open-ended shelters for the teams to take their 36 hour rest in.  Lots of straw insulates the dogs from the snow, blankets keep them warm, and they’re fed every six hours and walked to keep them loose.  photo 3

The veterinary team checks out Bobber.  Random drug testing – for the dogs – happens in Dawson, as well as a vet check of the whole team.
photo 2


photo 5Sandy and Healy in the foreground!


“Everyone that finishes now is a winner!”

“Everyone that finishes now is a winner.” responded Dave when asked by a reporter upon arrival in Dawson if he was OK with being in the middle of the pack.  Dave was in good spirits when he rolled into Dawson last night just after Curt Perano.  Dave and Curt had been traveling together prior to 40 mile and spent several hours trying to find a trail that had been blown over by strong winds.

Dave and Curt camped at 40 mile Wednesday night so that they could tackle the Yukon River en route to Dawson in the daylight.  Sounds like Spinner has been the shining start of the Dalton Gang this year and has been leading with the ladies for most of the race.  He’s been a ravenous eater and seems to be enjoying his first Quest!

This year’s trail has been hard and fast – Dave ran into some overflow 15 miles outside of Circle and had to stop in Trout Creek to dry out.  The hard-packed trail is hard on shoulders, wrists, and backs.  While three gang members had to call it quits, the remaining 11 on the team seem to be doing well, but will certainly benefit from 36 hours of rest in Dawson.

Dave’s attitude is positive!, and tonight, will have dinner with long-time Dawson friend Shirley.  Tonight, Jen and Ted will continue to feed the dogs and massage them down while Dave fixes his sled and preps for a late morning departure tomorrow.  Stay Tuned for Dawson City pictures!

Dave and the Dalton Gang arrive in Dawson City, YT!

I passed out before Dave arrived in Dawson just after 11:00 pm.  Dopey was left with the vets in Eagle due to a sore back and shoulder – he arrived via plane before his teammates and was picked up by Jen and Ted.  He joins Sheldon and Happy in the dog truck and will meet the rest of the team in Whitehorse.

Jen and Ted will feed the team every 6 -8 hours and provide massages, wrist wraps, plenty of straw, and blankets to help the Gang rest up before hitting the trail again as early as 11:02 am on the February 7th (tomorrow!).  More to come once I hear from Jen.  Way to Go Dave!


147 Miles to Dawson City, Dave and the Gang in 8th

Dave arrive in Eagle at 951 this morning, one minute after Ken Anderson.  Dave has to stay at Eagle, the most remote checkpoint on the Quest, until 151 (4 hours minimum rest), after which he can take off on the 147 mile run to Dawson City.   In Dawson, Jen and Arthur will have constructed a shelter for the Gang across the Yukon River from Dawson City in the campground.  Jen and Arthur will take care of the team for 36 hours while Dave catches a long rest, works on his sled, and prepares for the second leg of this awesome race.    While we wait for updates from the handlers, pictured below are Grumpy and Dopey – brothers from the Seven Dwarves litter.  In their 4 years, they have both finished 3 Quests in team.  These guys are favorites on the glacier with their almost identical appearance, except for their eyes.

DopeyGrumpy (2)

More From Circle, 243 miles into the race

Sounds like Dave rolled into Circle around 4:45 AM.  He was pretty interested in who won the Super Bowl.  Temperatures having been hovering around 0 F but the forecast is predicting close to -20 temperatures in Eagle.

Circle is a great little checkpoint in the town’s firehall.  After bedding the team down, getting wrist wraps on those, and covering up with dog blankets, Dave’s going to catch up rest before heading on the Slaven’s.  After Circle, Dave will cover approximately 300 miles to Dawson City stopping at the most remote checkpoint – Eagle – on his way.

This 300 mile stretch from Circle-Eagle-Dawson is a doozy and it looks like Dave has dropped the two dogs that might have difficulty making the 150 mile trip to Eagle.  Because dogs can only be dropped at checkpoints, tired or injured dogs have to be carried in a musher’s sled.  A 70-pound Sheldon riding shotgun would certainly slow things down!

Dave is planning on taking off at 9:30 with a fresh pair of boots on his feet.  Keep ya’ll posted

Bobber and Yukon Lead into Circle

Jennifer’s been doing a great job keeping me posted.  I think I’m back on track.  Anyhow, I heard that Bobber and Yukon lead into the Circle Checkpoint on an icy trail with little overflow.  Happy hitched a ride in Dave’s sled for portions of the 74 mile run into Circle and Dave decided to drop her as well due to a sore shoulder.

Bobber Yukon


Dave dropped Sheldon before leaving Central.  Not too sure why; but it sounds like he’s cozied up in the dog truck with Jen and Arthur.  Dave picked up a couple bags.

Denali and Healy, pictured below, are Dave’s main leaders this season.  These two 7-year old litter-mates have 8 Quest finishes between them!