Mushers face a historically perilous trail
The trail out of Dawson is the worst itʼs been in the history of the Quest.
DAWSON CITY – The trail out of Dawson is the worst itʼs been in the history of the Quest.
So says John Mitchell, a veteran Canadian Ranger and trail co-ordinator for the Canadian side of the race.
“Youʼre through the easy part,” Mitchell told the mushers during a meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Dawson checkpoint.
“I wish I had good news. Weʼre having trouble with this section of trail, and itʼs not for lack of trying.”
Two major snowfalls have “destroyed” the trail prepared by the Rangers.
“In 35 years of running the river, this has been the toughest trail weʼve had ever to break,” Mitchell said.
The trail from Dawson to Eagle, Alaska, is 237 km long, running down the Yukon River to the historic town site of Forty Mile, before turning up the Fortymile River.
Mushers gasped when Mitchell informed them that his team needed 8 1/2 hours to get from Dawson to Forty Mile – a distance of just 80 km.
“They got stuck about two dozen to three dozen times,” he said. “Weʼve got a perfectly hard trail, but itʼs three feet down underneath.”
There are also overflow troubles on certain portions of the river. Mitchell said his team is working hard to remedy the situation.
“What we need on the trail is traffic,” he said.
Musher Brent Sass thanked Mitchell and his Rangers for their hard work.
“Sounds like a challenge,” he said.
Meanwhile, head veterinarian Kathleen McGill said the percentage of dropped dogs has improved this year.
The Quest started last Saturday in Whitehorse with 364 dogs.
From the teams that have arrived in Dawson, only 32 dogs have been dropped.
“That makes about an eight per cent drop rate,” said McGill. “Thatʼs the lowest Iʼve had in all the years Iʼve been doing this. Thatʼs a really good statistic.”
That percentage does not include the scratched teams.