For several weeks now Iditarod mushers have been
stockpiling fish, cutting meat and assembling suppllies for their
drop bags to be sent along the trail. When you hear a musher say,
"We're in the middle of food drops," they are usually
pretty stressed, especially if it is their first time. Food drop
is a major expense of the race. There are seventeen checkpoints
to which food and supplies can be shipped.
A few weeks ago, the mushers were distributed large poly bags
marked with each checkpoint name. These bags were labeled by the
mushers with their own name and some distinguishing mark so they
can be easily spotted in the "pile." Each musher has their
own special secret recipes for doggie treats, supplements and personal
items that are included
in their bags. Other items shipped would have included plastic sled
runners, repair kits, extra dog booties, medications for the dogs,
leg wraps, dog coats, change of layers for the musher, dry socks
and gloves, Capri Suns and human meals that have been vacumn sealed.
Every musher has a system of packing so that they can easily find
what they need out of each bag when they need to quickly prepare
their dogs a hot meal and be able to do this while cold, tired and
sore. Once the drop items are organized and packed, they are taken
to a large warehouse in Anchorage, lumped into stacks according
to checkpoint by dozens of volunteers and then flown out by the
Iditarod Airforce to their destinations. From some reports, ravens
seem to know when this happens and follwo the shipments to try and
break into the bags to steal the dog food. A large collective sigh
of relief can be felt and heard as food drop is over.
Fur Rondy is in full swing. This year the dates of the two week
celebration were changed to coincide with Iditarod activities. There
is a carnival in downtown Anchorage and beautiful snow sculptures
down by the railroad terminal. Dimond Mall is the site of a Native
arts and crafts show. Herbie and Elizabeth Nayokpuk were there selling
carvings and jewelery from Shishmaref along with many talented artisans.
There are special activities, performances, music, sprint races
and a fur auction happening all around town.