Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

GOALS HAVE CHANGED – Yukon musher Rob Cooke, seen at Saturday’s Yukon Quest food drop, hopes his team of Siberian Huskies will finish this year’s race.

Weather woes garner mixed reactions from mushers

Poor training conditions in the territory have altered Yukon musher Rob Cooke’s goals for the 2015 Yukon Quest.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 26, 2015

Poor training conditions in the territory have altered Yukon musher Rob Cooke’s goals for the 2015 Yukon Quest.

The 48-year-old, who has been training out of the Carcross area, said unusually warm weather wreaked havoc on his training schedule.

“We did have a goal – to run it faster than two years ago – and we set up a training plan for that, but the weather’s really knocked us for six.

“The goal now is to finish the race again. If we can do it faster, then we will, but ... it is what it is. Everybody in the Yukon’s in the same boat.”

In 2013, Cooke finished his first 1,600-kilometre race in 18th place – a journey of nearly 12 days.

Cooke, originally from the United Kingdom, runs Siberian Huskies.

“It’s always a concern having warmer weather with the dogs,” he said Saturday.

“We ran the Copper Basin last week and that was really warm. The dogs struggled there.”

Meanwhile, Tagish musher Ed Hopkins said he’s faced it all before.

A veteran of six Yukon Quest races, he said his training actually went very well this season.

“I’m really not too worried about the conditions,” said Hopkins, 50. “I’ve got faith in my dogs. They’ve done tons of miles and they’re tough enough.

“I’ve been there before and seen all kinds of crappy trail conditions. I’m not worried about it and I don’t think they (the dogs) are.

“I’m just ready to go. I want to get out of here.”

Both mushers noted their faith in the Canadian Rangers, who manage to lay a good trail in every year, no matter what they are faced with.

Last week’s significant snowfall is “good news” for the start of the race, according to a notice from the Yukon Quest office.

While there are still some areas of concern due to open water and lack of snow, no decisions have yet been made to alter the location of the start line.

Crews will continue to monitor the situation, and alternate plans are being put in place if conditions do not improve.

The initial Yukon Quest trail report is as follows:

Whitehorse to Braeburn

Snow conditions are low and the Yukon River ice is passable but with low, hard snow and a few open leads and glare ice. The recent snowfall should improve things.

Braeburn to Carmacks

Snow conditions in this section of trail are also low. All lakes though from Coglan to the Yukon River near Eagle Rock are reported good and well marked. The usual open water leads on some of the lakes was present, but poses no problems.

Carmacks to Pelly Crossing

The trail is through. Ice on the Yukon River here is rough and the Rangers intend to put a lot of focus on this section of trail.

Pelly Crossing to Dawson City

The trail has been diverted off the river in some sections between Pelly and Scroggie Creek. Crews worked on this portion of trail over the weekend. From Scroggie Creek north, snow conditions are deeper and the trail improves greatly.

Dawson to Eagle

The trail from Dawson to the Alaska border is reported as excellent and well marked. Ice conditions are smooth with minimal overflow reported. On the Eagle side, some rough ice but good travelling on the Fortymile River. American Summit is passable.

Eagle to Circle, Circle to Central

The trail crew left Friday to break out the remaining trail from Circle to Eagle and will also provide an update on the trail from Circle to Central.

Central to Mile 101

Eagle Summit has good snow cover on top, more than 30 centimetres. The trail from the summit till the last three km is in good shape. The last three km into Mile 101 are windswept and rocky.

Mile 101 to Two Rivers

Due to light snow cover, occasional boulders are exposed along the North Fork. Rosebud Ridge has enough snow to travel, though it is light in windswept areas.

Two Rivers to Fairbanks

The 77 km of trail from Two Rivers checkpoint to the Chena River is hard and fast.

The last 38 km on the Chena is rough in spots, but should improve with some snow.

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