The big news at our house is that Judy Merritt scratched from the
race. We still do not have the
full story but something happened outside Rohn that involved water.
According to Bill, there are two places she could’ve gotten
into water. One is at the bottom of the Dalzell Gorge where the
trail jumps back and forth across a creek, which always has open
water. The trail is connected by ice and snow bridges some of which
will be collapsed over cavernous holes twenty feet deep. The musher
will have to keep up a good speed to make the crossings or they
will find themselves in big trouble on sloping ice ledges, with
some dogs suspended midair, held up by the gangline. This Gorge
is only about two miles long but will seem like twenty. Once a musher
exits the Gorge, they find themselves on the Tatina River, which
always has overflow and shallow open water. Bill fell into this
same water even though he made across all the ice bridges.
Whatever happened with Judy and the water, the trail sweeps offered
help (at least that is what we heard) and Judy must’ve accepted.
Only certain types of help are allowed under the rules of the Iditarod.
Anyway, whatever occurred out there, Judy scratched in Rohn, which
is the same place she scratched in 2002. Melinda Miles scratched
in Rohn and Carmen
Perzechino scratched in McGrath. That makes six total that are out
of the race and 81 are still moving up the trail towards Nome. Jeff
King was the first to reach Ruby, winning the First Musher to the
Yukon Award. Among his winnings was a seven-course meal prepared
by Executive Chef of the Millennium Hotel. Filet mignon stuffed
with pine nuts, apple and chilies was followed by a field green
salad with sun dried cranberries, bosc pear and blue cheese. Next
was cream of brie soup, pan seared venison tenderloin with shallots
and wild mushrooms, kiwi passion fruit sorbet and bananas foster
bread pudding with flambéed rum sauce. A wine is served with
each course. After dinner, Jeff King was presented with an “after
dinner mint” consisting of $3,500 in crisp one-dollar bills
presented in an engraved Alaskan gold pan. King will also be staying
at the Millennium in a suite during a more relaxed time where he
will be served the same feast again.
While Mr. King was dining, we were driving to Fairbanks. Our plane
ride to Ruby with Missionary
pilot Earl Malpass was waiting for us there. The roads were snowy
and coated in some areas but in others, it was warm and melting.
The windshield washer was in constant use. Wasilla to Fairbanks
is a 6-hour drive. We arrived about 5PM. Earl’s wife, Lynn,
prepared a marvelous halibut dinner. Afterwards, we drove over to
the airport to plug in Earl’s plane so the engine will be
heated for our morning departure. The northern lights were out in
full force over the runway. A huge arch of green bands swept across
the sky. Awesome!! We dropped by the Ice Sculptures but they were
about to close. Over the fence we saw some really neat, lighted
ice carvings and a huge ice slide for the kids. Back at Earl’s
house, we watched some of his mission videos then ate a bite of
ice cream and called it a day.
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