Here comes the sun
The days are getting notably longer and the light comes back at such force that we need to dig for our sunglasses, clean off the dust and, ah, enjoy the first signs of the glorious spring time that is right around the corner.
That means that soon the Iron Dogs and then the husky dogs are coming towards Nome.
Next weekend the Iron Dog racers leave Big Lake and can be expected in Nome on Tuesday before they are racing to their finish in Fairbanks. See page 16 for a glimpse into the dedication it takes for top notch racers to get ready for the ride.
The Iditarod Trails Sled Dog Race is next. On March 4, 74 mushers will ready their dog teams on 4th Avenue for the ceremonial start of the 2017 Iditarod. Due to a lack of snow in the Alaska Range, the Iditarod Trail Committee deemed the trail unsafe and decided to move the restart to Fairbanks.
Those decisions, I believe, are not made lightly but are made with the safety for dog team and musher in mind. Sure, it is heart breaking for the communities along the way that will miss out on the annual Iditarod excitement and a bit of economic benefit. But it is equally maddening to see on social media that lodge owners along the way whine about the loss of income and even call the alternative route “Fake Iditarod”. I wonder if those complainers, who have probably never put a harness on a sled dog, would enjoy being strapped to a 16-dog team, screaming down the Dalzell Gorge out of control and bouncing off rocks and ice.
The route follows a different course, but the mushers need to overcome adversity and other challenges all the same. They may be spared running miles over bare ground, but they do face the run along the infamous Bering Sea coast. Anybody who has been outside in the last couple of days here in Nome or the region knows that 50 mph winds can send the toughest guy whimpering inside for safety.
Mushing across Alaska and finishing in Nome is an amazing feat that we are privileged to witness every year. Let’s give the Iron Dog snowmachine racers and the mushers a warm and dignified welcome when they get here. –D.H.—