Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010
It was 17 degrees when I got up at 5AM and gradually warmed up. It would get up to 38 degrees shortly after noon and then slowly drop back down to the mid 20’s this evening before going back into the teens overnight.
After doing our morning chores, Colin and I went back to the house and ate breakfast. There was a note on the table from Melanie. If I was running 2 teams today, I needed to get her up right away. If I was only running one team I should let her sleep in. I let her sleep. She got up about 9 and after eating and checking emails we headed to the dog yard. She showed me how to shorten my gang line from 10 dogs to 8 dogs; tie a knot in it with a loop to go through the carabineer. We harnessed the dogs I would be running today and off I went, screaming out of the dog yard with Melanie yelling at me to stand on the brake. I was standing full weight on the mat brake, but the dogs had been idle for so many days that nothing would stop them. After clearing the tight turn around a tree, that had marks from previous sleds exiting the yard, I stood on the steel brake and slowed the team down. I got to the turn that takes you out onto the main trail with no problems; avoiding the deep snow in the turns that had previously tipped my sled and thrown me off. I was having a good run. If I avoided any falls or mishaps, I would have a clean run.
I had told Melanie what my backup plans were if I had problems. She told me to stop thinking like that. Focus on a clean run. You get what you plan for. A client of hers had skinned his shins when he missed a box jump. He later confessed that he had been thinking that he wasn’t going to make it, even though he had done it before. I was an Iditarod musher now. There was no back up plan. Failure was not an option.
I still had one back up plan she didn’t know about. I had emailed a bunch of people and told them I would be “Going it Alone” and asked them to pray for a safe, successful run.
I had no worries about taking the wrong turn. I had my two best leaders in front, Toro and Gator. I had a clean run. The trail was fast. Two to four inches of new, soft, dry snow had fallen on top of the hard packed trail. We got to Reservoir Lake in 65 minutes and 55 minutes later we were at the helicopter pad. We had gone a little over 17 miles in 2 hours. I had even cleared Melanie’s corner on one runner by shifting all my weight to the inside runner then, letting the outside runner come off the ground. This allowed me to steer through the corner for the first time, like John had suggested, instead of being whipped around the turn.