Martin Buser was the first out of Iditarod, but is moving slowly. Next out was Aliy Zirkle, 20 miles behind Buser. She might not beat him into Shageluk, but will surely gain a bunch on him. Keep a good eye on this segment, because a strong run to the Yukon will elevate any of the front runners into likely winner status.
John Baker has advanced a bit and will arrive in Iditarod in the early evening. He and his team must not like the 45 degree temperatures on the trail, but they have passed a number of teams today.
The trail from Iditarod to Shageluk brings to mind an earlier trip up the same trail I made in 1979. I was a rookie and moving slowly. I left Iditarod at -30 in the early morning. I went all day, up and down the hills, hoping the top of the next hill would reveal the familiar sight of the Innoko River. It didn't take forever to get there, but it sure felt like it. As I topped yet another hill standing by the trail was a man I knew from a previous hunting trip to Shageluk. The fellow was the official greeter for the village, and met every boat that stopped in the summer, without fail. He had some mental challenges, and had a difficult time communicating. I thought I must be very close to the village, because this guy was standing along the trail. He motioned that I should give him a ride. I declined, because I was barely moving with my current load. We had a short but animated visit, and he expressed as well as he could how happy he was to see me. I waved and moved off for what surely was going to be a short ride into the village at about midnight. About 1 am, I pulled into the checkpoint, moving at about 5 mph. I learned from people at the checkpoint that my buddy had eagerly awaited my arrival, and decided to walk along the trail until he found me, about five miles out, at -20.
He showed up later and I thanked him as best I could. He still loves the Iditarod, and attends the banquet each year in Anchorage, where he now lives. Recalling that stop on the trail still warms me up a bit, as it did that night.
Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checking http://www.myronangstman.com/