Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Spring is oh so close.....

Gravel Lake, North Klondike Hwy (Yukon)

North Klondike Hwy (Yukon)

What a difference two months has made!
We, here in the Yukon, have already gained 5hrs and 1min of daylight since New Years Day.  The sun is also at 19 degrees at its zenith which is a tremendous change from when it was only 4 degrees on Jan 1st.  Everyday we gain 6 or 7 mins of daylight.  Fabulous!!!
Today, the sun rose at 08:15 and will set at 18:20.  Daytime highs are just shy of zero degrees Celsius.  Spring is oh so close.....
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Checkpoint Pelly Crossing

Yuka Honda (Yukon Quest 300) and her dogs arrive 
at the finish line in Pelly Crossing 

Allen Moore - first musher to arrive in Pelly Crossing
Feb 4th at 1:24am

Pups resting for the next leg of the race

Quest Vets check on the wellbeing of all pups

Traffic jam in Pelly - two teams 
(Christina Traverse a few seconds behind Randy MacKenzie in red)
 arriving at Checkpoint Pelly Crossing

Susan Rogan spends a few seconds with each of her
dogs moments before departing Pelly

Normand Casavant convincing his pup to eat

Normand Casavant hands out snacks

Markus Ingebretsen arrives at Checkpoint Pelly 

Putting on booties

Quest volunteers staying warm by campfire
waiting for next team to arrive

Darrin Lee arrives in Pelly
Volunteers check his gear

Dropped from race

Dyan Bergen and her team prepare to depart Pelly

Tamra Reynolds (YQ 300) arrives at finish in Pelly
Exhausted pup in bag

Time for a snooze

Welcome to Checkpoint Pelly Crossing - the fourth official stop in this year's running of the Yukon Quest.  Allen Moore was the first to arrive at 01:24am on Feb 4th.  

Mushers, upon arrival, are greeted by a team of Quest volunteers who check to see if each sled is equipped with a sleeping bag, food for musher and pups, snowshoes, an axe, the vet book, and other basic gear.  Time deductions are handed out to any musher failing to have the required gear.  Vets also take the opportunity to check on the wellbeing of all the pups.  Those injured or too exhausted to continue are dropped from the team - the handlers will then look after the well being of those pups.

Mushers are offered a hot meal as are the pups - mushers take hot water to thaw chunks of meat, fish and other goodies added to kibble.  Once the pups have eaten, they will rest for a few hours on a bed of straw.  Many mushers provide blankets and 'hand warmers' for their team.  Some of the mushers also elected to catch up on their rest while their team snoozes in Pelly.

At one point we had nine teams in the 'dog yard' - close to 140 sled dogs in our small village.  

Pelly is also the finishing point for those racing in the Yukon Quest 300 - a 300mile journey from Whitehorse to Stepping Stone and Pelly.  This years winner was Michelle Phillips who arrived 8 secs ahead of Aliy Zirkle.  The YQ300 is a qualifying race for those wishing to run in the 1000 mile Yukon Quest race.

Stayed tuned for images from the Dawson Checkpoint.

More images from Checkpoint Pelly are available on my flickr account

Good night,

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Return of the Aurora

Aurora dancing over the Pelly River, Yukon

Good morning from the Yukon!
At long last the northern lights have returned to our skies.  It has been months since we were last treated to such a show.  Lovely to see them back.
Keeping my fingers crossed for a repeat performance tonight.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Photo info:  Photographed with a Nikon D800 and Nikor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens - shot at f/3.5, 15-18sec, 800ISO, cable release.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Congratulations to Allen Moore

Allen Moore and his team departing Whitehorse
February 2, 2013

Congratulations to Allen Moore and his team for winning this year’s Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  Allen and his eleven dogs crossed the finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska at 6:54am Alaska Time – his official time was 8 days, 18hrs and 57 mins.  Hugh Neff, the defending champ, finished a close second when he and his nine pups crossed the finish line at 8:10am.

Shortly after his winning, Moore joked with media officials stating that "I trained my team to run 26 seconds faster" in reference to his loss to Neff last year by the slimmest margin in the history of the Quest.  Moore, and his wife Aliy Zirkle (who came within 8 seconds of winning this years Yukon Quest 300 in Pelly Crossing) become the first husband and wife team to each win the Yukon Quest.  Zirkle took the title in 2000.

Congratulations to all.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

And, they are off....

And they are off - the 30th annual Yukon Quest
Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 -  Whitehorse, Yukon

The official start line - Whitehorse, Yukon

Musher Rob Cooke and his pups, from the UK, 
are the third team to depart from the start line

The defending champ, Hugh Neff, hugs each of
his dogs shortly before the start of his race

Lance Mackey departs

Misha Pedersen and her team depart Whitehorse

Excited pups

Darrin Lee and his team

Ed Abrahamson's team

Scott Smith's team departs Whitehorse

One pup who did not make the race

My choice for the winning team

The last few days here in the Yukon have truly been remarkable ones.  A week ago yesterday, with temperatures approaching the zero degree Celsius mark, twenty-six dog teams departed Whitehorse for the 30th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  The 1000-mile journey retraces the historical Gold Rush sled dog route that once connected Whitehorse (Yukon) with Fairbanks, Alaska.  The course follows the frozen waters of the Yukon and Pelly Rivers, crosses over four mountain summits, and travels through some of the harshest yet most pristine wilderness imaginable.  In the past mushers, and their dogs, endured minus 40-degree temperatures and horrific blizzards, treacherous ice conditions and unexpected obstacles such as open water.  The first of the mushers usually crosses the finish line some ten days later.

Along the route there are eight official checkpoints, mandatory rest stops, and several hospitality stops where race veterinarians and officials check on the health and wellbeing of the pups.  Dogs can be dropped from the race if the vets, and or musher, deemed the dog(s) unfit to continue on.  Race officials also check to ensure each musher is equipped with food supplies, snowshoes, an axe, sleeping bag, and their vet logbook.  Penalties (both time deductions and monetary fines) are issued to any team failing to follow race rules.
Each team has a group of handlers that meet the mushers and the pups at each of the checkpoints.  They are responsible for taking care of the dropped dogs and for cleaning up after once the team departs.  Mushers cannot accept help at any point along the race.

Musher Brian Wilmshurst and his 14 excited dogs was the first to depart Whitehorse at 11am.  Each team thereafter left at three-minute intervals with Crispin Studer’s team being the last to depart at 12:15.

Later that afternoon, 18 teams departed on the Yukon Quest 300, a shorter race that finishes at Pelly Crossing.

The thrill of being surrounded by so many excited pups, a spirited Yukon Quest crew and a team of international volunteers carried through for the remainder of the week.  I'm already looking forward to next year's Quest!

Stayed turned for more photos from the Pelly Crossing Checkpoint in the coming days.

For more information and current standings on the Quest please visit their official website at

More images from the start in Whitehorse can be found on my photostream on Flickr.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Year of the Snake

Milk Snake, Mud Lake (Ottawa)

Wishing you all a very Happy Lunar New Year.  According to Chinese Astrology tomorrow marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake - my namesake year.  The next 12 months promise to be exciting, especially for those born under this sign.  
Happy New Year - here's to the neat adventures that lay ahead.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Yukon Quest and the Yukon Quest 300

Yuka Honda on her way to finishing the Yukon Quest 300
Pelly Crossing, Feb 05, 2013

Winter greetings from the Yukon!
February has arrived and with it so have the dogs and their mushers competing in this years running of the Yukon Quest International 1000 mile Dog Sled Race and in the Yukon Quest 300.  
The last few days have been exciting with over 400 dogs travelling through Pelly.
Stay turned for more images and stories from these two events.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
Cheers for now,