The drive out to Manley Hot Springs took about 4 hours. The road
was not too bad in most areas, although some spots were covered
with about 6 inches of snow. The scenery was beautiful but we
did not see any wildlife really....just a few ground squirrels running
across right in front of us. Must be a universal squirrel thing.
Manley is located about 160 miles west of Fairbanks on the Elliott
HIghway. We passed the town of Fox, climbed over Wickersham Dome,
saw the Trans-Alaska Pipeline along the way, passed through the
mining town of Livengood and crossed through some overflow on the
roadway and then began to have engine trouble. The oil pressure
dropped, the temperature started to rise and engine noise began.
The outside temperature was around +20 degrees but we were gettingn
worried that we were about to be stuck out there. Luckily the truck
made it on into town and we were able to see many teams at the Manley
Teams were scattered all around in the afternoon sun resting in
the checkpoint. We saw Karen Ramstead and her team first. They were
all doing nicely. Karen Land was concerned
about the punchy trail and worried about her dogs, although they
were doing great. Cali King and Tyrell Seavey were still resting
and tending their dogs. Jim Gallea, Mike Williams, Palmer Sagoonik,
Debbie Moderow, Russell Bybee, Frank Silher and Ellen Halverson
were among the teams resting. The dropped dogs were resting out
of the wind along a snow berm in the sun. Among those was Feather,
one of Frank Silher's dogs that ran in Jordan's Jr Iditarod team
last year. Blake Matray, Adam Scott Gibler and then G.B. Jones came
in bringing up the rear while we were out there. Adam was carrying
one dog, Blake had two in his sled bag and G.B. set a record unofficially,
because he had three in the bag. All were just sore and were quickly
examined by the vets on duty.
Our friend and Manley resident, Cap Chastain, met us at the checkpoint.
He took us on a tour of Manley, where we saw the Roadhouse, the
Post Office, the air strip and Cap's cabin. Most residents of Manley
are self-sufficient, independent souls who want to preserve the
rural lifestyle they have in central Alaska. We met some of Cap's
neighbors who had a really neat wood stove going in their cabin.
Another neighbor had a bird feeder out that was experiencing late
afternoon traffic and I saw a Boreal Owl sitting in the tree overhead,
although I heard that the vole population is up this year.
Next stop was the Community Center where the official checkpoint
is. They had sandwiches and moose soup, hot coffee and cookies for
the mushers and veterinarians. Adam, Ellen, Blake and Lachlan Clarke
inside taking a nap while we were there. G.B. came in for some soup
and his nap too. The vets began to retire for the evening and the
mushers under the tables and on the couch were snoring loudly when
we turned in for the evening. If the weather holds, we plan to fly
to Ruby on Wednesday.
here for the latest musher standings.
Lance A Barve as returned to the Manley Checkpoint to nurse his
knee and give his dogs some more rest. Lance called his wife for
words of encouragement and declared his 24 hour layover.