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Friday, February 4, 2011

Alaska December 2010 - Part 2

Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010

The meeting began at 9AM, but we had to be there at 8 AM to get our official picture taken by Jeff Schultz. The meeting lasted all day and had a lot of information about the race. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had built some new safety cabins along the trail and we were given the GPS coordinates for them. We were going to be allowed to use GPS during the race this year. This was the first time that mushers would be able to do this, since they had been banned years before. There had been a large burn (forest fire) over the summer along a stretch of the trail and they were waiting for enough snow to send a team out to clear the trail from all the debris and fallen trees. Several veterans talked to us about the race and Stu Nelson, the chief veterinarian talked to us about the health and care of the dogs, the metabolic changes they go through and the types of injuries and illnesses they can get during the race.

After the meeting, I went home with, Kelly, one of the local rookies. As we were rounding a curve a moose stepped out just in front of us. If we had been going any faster we would have hit it. That could have been lethal for us. These animals are so big that they can peel the roof off a car when their legs are knocked out from under them and they fall through the windshield. I have seen some of these accidents. Sometimes the moose survives and wonders off, but the occupants of the car are killed from massive head injuries or decapitation. Kelly said the moose did not cause him problems around Big Lake, where he lives, because they are hunted in that area. The moose on the Kenai Peninsula and on the Iditarod trail are more aggressive. Susan Butcher lost several dogs in her team one year when a moose attacked them. When the snow is deep, the moose prefer to stay on the hard packed trail and can be very temperamental.

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