A small crowd of fans cheered as Aliy Zirkle drove her dog team up over the bank of the Yukon River and into Kaltag late Saturday morning.
Zirkle spent nine minutes in the checkpoint, sifting through drop bags. She grabbed beef snacks and salmon snacks for her dogs, switched out a led dog named Scout for another named Dutch and sped off.
“I’m not answering any questions,” she told a cameraman who works with the Iditarod Insider.
A local Kaltag resident handed Zirkle a homemade jar of canned salmon for her journey overland to Unalakleet. It’s an 85 mile stretch of historic trail – the longest on the Iditarod trail.
Zirkle tucked the jar in her sled and hugged a few Kaltag residents who had made signs in support of her race.
“She’s such an inspirational person. She’s such a strong lady to be going out there and to be enduring the Alaskan terrain, we are just so proud of her,” said Marisa Solomon-McGinty of Kaltag.
Anne Neglaska also made a sign.
“I wanted to support her after what she endured last night and just come out and show our love and support for our mushers. Bad enough the battle the trails and stuff and we just want to be here and let them know we love and support them,” said Negalaska.
Both women said they think Zirkle recognized their support.
“I got a kiss on the cheek from her,” said McGinty Solomon.
“We see it you know, the love for our mushers,” said Neglaska.
Before she pulled her snow hook, Zirkle took a moment to personally thank one of the kids in the village for his sign.
The mushers was clearly shaken, but her dog team did not hesitate to pull their musher down the trail.