10th Iditarod – Anvik

Salsa sponsored rider Jay Petervary called in with an update from Anvik, on the Iditarod Trail, this afternoon. Here’s what JayP had to say about the his ride toward Nome aboard Blackborow thus far…

The overland trail is what we’re all scared about before leaving McGrath, but I felt it was just time to leave. It was kind of grinding, but after about 40 miles I knew it was going to be okay.

King Crab Legs in Ophir…that’s a first!

Got to Ophir, which is really an old homesteader ghost town until the Iditarod comes through, then folks go out there to hang out and party and watch the dogs come through. I got there and knocked on the door and happened to know the four guys that were there. They asked if I was alone, and I said yes, and then asked me if I wanted King Crab legs. No kidding. So, I ate a bunch and then they stuffed me into a heated cabin. So that was a nice way to end that day.

A trap line set along the trail…

Further down the trail there’s a split in the trail and a trail marker sign. That always sort of tells you how the trail is going to be and the next 20 miles through the woods were amazing. But as soon as I broke out of the woods into the open, it started to change with a fair bit of drifting and a blown over trail.

It has kind of been like riding by braille. The Iditarod trail markers haven’t come through yet so I’m kind of beholden to the snow machine trails from whoever has gone by recently. I have to go where they go, and in general they are always heading in roughly the proper direction. It has actually been okay, just some soft riding at times.

When I made it to Moose Creek cabin I cooked a bunch of my food and pounded pretty much as much of it as I could because I knew my drop bag would be at Iditarod, just 15 miles up the trail.

But I got to Iditarod and there weren’t any drop bags there yet. It was supposed to be an air drop but it must not have happened. Or hadn’t happened yet. No one there had seen a bunch of canvas bags lying in the snow.

The guys at the cabin knew it was 50 miles to the next place, Shageluk, where I should have my next drop bag, so they cooked me up a bunch of bacon and gave me some cookies. I know to never turn down food on the Iditarod trail regardless of timetable.

It wound up being a long day, but I had enough food to get to Shageluk. I called the post master but once again my food drop wasn’t there so she opened up the store for me and I got what I could before continuing on.

Now I’m in Anvik and it is 20 miles to the next drop in Grayling, so I called up there and checked with the post office to see if they have my drop box as I really need that drop as it has a lot of necessary non-consumables, like batteries. I don’t have any more batteries left at this point. They say they have my drop box but I’m hoping they are really checking as there is another Jay, Jay Cable, on the trail this year too.

I really need that drop because after that it is really 120 miles of Yukon river travel after that with no chance of resupply. I really need that drop box.

It snowed last night pretty hard, but I don’t know if it is the Blackborow or not, and sure I did some pushing, but I also rode some really crap, chundered up snow. I might not have been moving much faster than walking speed some of the time, but riding the trail, even at that speed, is way easier than walking and pushing.

I’ve seen Phil Hofstetter a couple times when he’s arriving and I’m heading out and he keeps telling me that I’m riding way more trail than he is.

In most years, by this time I would have fallen a zillion times leaving snow angels off the trail but I think I’ve done it only twice thus far this trip. The longer wheel base seems to be helping but I’m still trying to figure out what all is going on.

Part of it is that the weight distribution is helping too. The bike doesn’t sway on me. Usually, the ITI load on my handlebars makes it very difficult to stand up move the bike from side to side. But on the Blackborow, I’ve got no load on my handlebars, the weight of my gear is spread throughout the bike, and I can stand up and rock the bike.

Whether I ever see the ITI trail breakers or not will really depend on my pace. I may never see them this year. The last time I rode to Nome with Jeff Oatley, we saw them a couple days before we made it to Nome. The first dog team finished the day after we got there.

It’s been a warm trip from McGrath thus far. Too warm. It has me worried a bit about overflow on the Yukon. Even last night I was seeing some dark spots in the snow and that gets concerning. It is literally 30 degrees out right now. It isn’t a good temperature to be doing this in. I’m doing everything I can to stay hydrated.

All in all, I feel pretty good with my resupply box up the road and it doesn’t seem to have snowed anymore since I got here. I’ve been eating and sleeping a bunch so I’m strong on the trail. That’s letting me enjoy it and not just have my head down working.

I’ll check in again from somewhere up the trail a bit further.