One never knows what to expect along the Iditarod Trail and this year was no exception. The Pittsburgh folks started out strong, but the wet and warm trail conditions took there toll. Chuck had to scratch at mile 130, due to what he thought were blisters. Just dropping out of this race can be a nightmare. First he had to arrange a ride with a bush pilot from the Winterlake Lodge back to Anchorage. At the airport, all flights were booked solid for four more days, due to spring break in Anchorage. Chuck was able to find a compassionate airline worker who helped find a single seat on a plane to Seattle. Once in Seattle he got a flight back to Pittsburgh, via Chicago. All this on very sore feet. The doctor said frostbite was the reason for his pain, and that if he would have continued, he would have lost some toes. Go figure, the weather was almost balmy this year, but wet feet lower ones tolerance. That, and apparently he must have had a mild case of frostbite last year, and the tolerance got even lower. He is back home recovering after a disappointing run.
The others are still moving along the trail. Just before Chuck scratched, Tim went ahead of Loreen and Rick to try and catch up to Tom and Eric. Tim managed to catch Tom and Eric in Rohn, but then turned around and went back to make sure Loreen got over Rainy Pass and down through the Dalzell Gorge safely. There are spotty reports out of Rohn, so we will not know the whole story until after they finish the race. Rohn is nothing more than an airstrip and a log cabin in the Alaska Mtn. Range. It is only inhabited during the two weeks of the Iditarod. Tom and Eric finished in McGrath on Saturday morning, they had a very fast race. Tim, Loreen and Rick are now somewhere out on the Farewell Burn, we will not hear about them until they reach the village of Nicolai, probably sometime today. Word is that Tim has twisted an ankle, but we don't know how severe it is. The Farewell burn got its name after a large forest fire swept through the Farewell Lakes area years ago. It is 90 miles of open territory with numbing cold and strong winds. In years past, there was a bison camp where you could stop, rest and refuel. They were just a couple of walled tents, with a wood stove, but they were like a five-star hotel to us. This year, the tents are gone, so finding a safe, sheltered place to rest is very difficult. Once in Nicolai, they will be on the home stretch with just the 50 miles along the river to the finish in McGrath. Loreen is assured of being the first woman on foot to finish in McGrath, as the other woman dropped out of the race back at Finger Lake. Loreen will have to hurry if she wants to beat the course record she set back in 2008. Hopefully we will get a favorable report later today.