DAWSON CITY – The Dawson dog yard became a lot quieter Thursday as 21 mushers left over the course of the day headed toward the border and the Eagle,
Alaska checkpoint for the second half of the Yukon Quest.
Up front, Brent Sass, the first to reach Dawson, led the leader pack into and out of Clinton Creek.
However, he was passed by a surging Allen Moore and Michelle Phillips as they began the ascent of American Summit.
Rookie musher and Dawson resident Jason Biasetti left for Eagle at 4 p.m. Thursday. He is currently sitting in the middle of the pack.
Biasetti’s dogs were nestled snuggly in their straw, getting some well-deserved rest before they got back onto the trail.
Biasetti left Dawson with 10 dogs. It’s his first time on the Alaskan side, but he knows what to expect.
“I heard the trail is pretty good; we are going to be on the Yukon River for a while,” said Biasetti.
“There is going to be windblown sections on the Yukon, which is common. There will probably be some snow drifting as well, which is also common.
“Pretty much if I notice the drifting, I’ll just slow my team right down until we get through it.”
Biasetti said he is just going to take it one checkpoint at a time as he and his team head into the unknown.
“I’m used to running a river, so I’m confident,” said Biasetti. “We got American Summit; I don’t know what that’s like. But we are ready, and we are just going to take it
checkpoint to checkpoint.
“I’ve still got the nervousness, and usually it disappears on the trail.
“I guess it means so much to me, I put a lot of pressure on myself. But I’m loose on the trail and I’ve kept my dogs happy.
“As long as I can keep them happy and healthy, then I think we’ve got this.”
When the Star spoke with Biasetti in early January, he said getting to the Quest was the realization of a 10-year dream. So far, it has matched his expectations.
“Yeah, but I definitely faced some adversity in the first half I didn’t anticipate with my toe and some dogs,” said Biasetti.
He suffered frostbite on his toe heading from Whitehorse to Braeburn and had to drop four dogs due to soreness.
“But I also go by my gut, and I’ve learned to trust my gut, and I’ve got a good feeling. We are going to flow, give them a lot of rest, and play it out.”
Chase Tingle may be a rookie to the 1,000-mile race, which began last Saturday in Whitehorse, but he has done the YQ300 on the Alaskan side.
“Both sides are very challenging for different reasons,” said Tingle.
“That side you’ve got the big mountains to go over and they are big, they are mountains, not hills. They are rugged trail; they aren’t like King Solomon, where it’s road grade.”
Fellow rookie Hendrik Stachnau arrived in Dawson shortly after Tingle did. He’s racing with Greenland dogs and two Alaskan malamutes to show everyone that they’re capable of doing the Quest.
“I want to show the native sled dog breeds,” said Stachnau.
“The Greenland dogs and the Alaskan malamutes, they are quite unknown or used here at least at the Quest, or have never been used.
“I want to show that they can do it. And that people don’t forget these old nice breeds, what a sled dog is looking like, a traditional sled dog breed.”
Stachnau was told after the vet check in Dawson that he had the biggest dogs in the yard.
“They just told me my dogs are the fattest dogs in the yard,” said Stachnau through a big laugh.
“They have the same fat nodes as the start. One, they were discussing if she was too fat to start. She (the vet) said, ‘Is she always like that? Could it be a disease?’
“I said ‘No, it is just the hunger.’ She even has already been eating the lines. I have to go down in food a little bit or she can’t run in the night; she will have a belly hanging there.
“They (the vets) aren’t used to Greenland dogs, but they are very happy with them.”
The race had its first scratches on Thursday.
Rookie Jimmy Lebling pulled out close to 7 p.m., citing the well-being of his dogs.
Also last evening, fellow rookie Olivia Webster turned back into the Dawson checkpoint after departing and made the decision to scratch.
Potential Red Lantern recipient Lisbet Norris winner and her team began their 36-hour layover in Dawson shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.
As of this morning, according to the live race tracker, four mushers have departed Eagle headed toward Trout Creek.
Moore and Sass are close together ahead of the pack. Gatt and Phillips are close together about five miles behind.
See more Quest coverage.