Friday, November 28, 2008

Yukon Quest

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, I wish you all a belated Happy Thanksgiving. We got about an inch of snow over the week and it has warmed up to 7 degrees today!!! When my wife and I came here, we expected to see dog teams and dog sled races, but we did not expect to have one of the most challenging dog sled races come right by our home. No it is not the Iditarod but the Yukon Quest.

The Yukon Quest is considered to be more challenging than the Iditarod. The Quest goes for 1000 miles from Fairbanks to Whitehorse in the Yukon one year and the next year it is from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. Next year, February 14th, 2009, they will race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.

One of the reasons the Quest is considered more challenging is that the Iditarod starts next year on March 8th in Willow, AK. while the Quest starts February 14th. In February here in the Interior, we are still averaging temperatures well below zero. In fact last year, if I remember correctly (see video at bottom), it was about -20 degrees. (At these temperatures you have to drink your beer in less than 30 minutes or it freezes). In March the temperature manages to stay above zero most of the time, so the weather is what makes the Quest race more challenging.

The Quest does not commemorate any particular event like the Iditarod (in 1925 the trail was used to transport diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska). The Quest trail follows old gold prospectors trails and is named after the Yukon River for which most of the race occurs on.

The years that the race starts in Fairbanks, people gather on the river for, what else, parties. Our first year here our next door neighbors had a party where we wore Hawaiian garb. Leis, flowered shirts were the norm. Of course we wore them over coats. Then as the teams came by, usually one team every two minutes, they were handed cookies. Last year we went to our friends about two miles down river and handed sloppy Joes. It was so cold they had wooden pallets to stand on so your feet wouldn't get to cold.

The basic route the race takes when it starts in Fairbanks is to North Pole via the Chena River. Then on to Chena Hot Springs, Central, Circle where they get on the Yukon and on to Whitehorse. When they start in Whitehorse, it is just the reverse. For more information on the race route and on the race go to this link.Yukon Quest Here is a video of last years Quest as it goes by our friends home. At the very end, one person is handing the musher sloppy-joe sandwich. You may need to download the video to see play without stopping.
There was a request on an earlier post to video the water flashing to vapor, will do when it gets cold enough. This will probably be in January 2009.