Iditarod Field Notes #2

By Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

It’s still light at 8 o’clock. Temperature outside plunging to -20 at least . My nose hairs freeze. I have gone back to school for an hour or so to change into proper gear for a late night outside assignment – Otter hat, snowmachine pants and bunny boots.

The buzz  ‘round Iditarod HQ in Unalakleet is that Lance Mackey is, or isn’t 40 miles out of town. First they thought 21 miles – that shortly past 6 pm –  but realized they were reading the miles from the wrong end. So at 6 pm Mackey was around 40 miles outside Unk and speculation is rife that he will be here around midnight. Or earlier. Or later.  Iditawaiting begins.

About 8:30 a snowmachiner comes in with the news “Mackey just camped at Old Woman” It’s a popular rest stop for mushers from Kaltag on the portage to Unalakleet.. about thirty miles out of town. A gaggly group of snowmachiners hanging out  pass around a grimy paper.. the Iditarod pool.  Ten bucks to buy in with a best guess at arrival time for first musher into Unk.

It’s pretty quiet at Iditarod HQ after the flurry of the Iditarod Insider Crew. They blew in around 6 pm with a ton of equipment.  Did some shooting, fed some video, then blustered out the door.

So we wait.  Another guy  bursts in  – “Mackey ‘s out of Old Woman”..  so we jump, figure the time, the distance, the speed of the team.  Midnight. Maybe.

Mackey hasn’t stopped for any real rest since Nulato.  King now three hours after Mackey, but with a rested team.  Let’s not forget Hans Gatt and Mitch Seavey.. still out there behind King.