Once again I find myself abandoning a post I’ve been working on in spare moments over a couple of days to drop something in that is pertinent and to the moment.
It is currently 7am in Dawson and Chris, Louise and I have been getting up on an hourly basis since 3am to check the tracker to follow Rob’s very slow progress through some appalling conditions up on the top.
We went down to the camp yesterday to check the final preparations for bedding the team down once they get into Dawson. As most people reading this will know the mushers have a mandatory 36 hour rest in Dawson so there needs to be a special camping area for the dogs and the handler team has an important job looking after them while they are there. There were some reparations that needed to be done because the previous night’s snow had “crashed” the dog tent (the long blue tunnel in the pictures).
Having taken Gussie (the bravest bear dog in the Yukon) out onto the frozen river for his ablutions, we then set off back to the town to wait.
As we got back down into the town the snow started to come down hard, in the UK we would have called it a blizzard but here it was just a good shower. However as many pointed out to us, up on the top where seven teams were still making their way from Eagle checkpoint, it would be pretty tough. So it proved. Some of the teams slowed up and concertinaed together. We watched Yuka Honda come in before taking shelter inside. Mike Ellis and Dave Dalton followed.
In the early hours of the morning Laura Neese, who had been travelling close to Rob, and Cody Strath, Paige Drobny and Luc Tweedell all arrived. But still no Rob. He slowed up as he climbed to the top of the last peak before Dawson. Now he is camped on the peak and we hope that soon we will see him move off and start the long downhill run into Dawson.
Once again I am writing this blog while we sit and nervously await his arrival.
I know I’ve already gone on about it at length but it is never more apparent than at times like this that this is an expedition for most of the teams not a race. Getting to the finish is the key. You don’t necessarily see that back home watching a tracker. The sense of community all the way down the trail is very striking, between musher, between handlers and between both of those and the local communities running checkpoints and supporting teams. We will head down to the visitor centre shortly to join that community and await his arrival.
Come on Rob, we’re all with you. You’re doing a great job. Just another two hours and then rest.