Mid-Winter in the Yukon – Yukon Quest Excitement, and Snow Clearing Not-so-much!

The past few days have been crazy-busy, with both an exciting event and a great deal of snow clearing at our home and our cabin.

The 1,000-mile Yukon Quest started in Whitehorse at 11:00am Saturday morning, and Cathy and I were there about half an hour early to see the dogs and the mushers getting ready.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
It was great to see a toddler meeting probably her first professional athlete.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
People start picking the best spot for viewing – for many, that’s the start line. Years ago, there were speakers set up for a couple of blocks down the trail, but this year you had to be at the starting line to hear the commentary.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
To impress Yukoners, having “Official Finisher” patches for both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod put you off to a very good start. Sebastian Schnuelle, the one smiling, won the 2009 Quest but is working as a race marshal this year.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
I never did figure out what these toys huskies were waiting for.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
It was great to see long-time Yukon Quest supporters (and friends of mine) Jerry Van Dyke Travel from Ontario back with 16 people to follow the Quest to Dawson City and experience other aspects of a Yukon winter.

Jerry Van Dyke Travel back in Whitehorse for the Yukon Quest
At 10:51, Brian Wilmshurst from Dawson City gets ready to start the race.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
Mushers leave the start line 3 minutes apart – this is Markus Ingebretsen from Norway, heading for Fairbanks in his first Yukon Quest. The bale of straw is used for bedding for the dogs during breaks.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
It’s also the first Yukon Quest for Rob Cooke from New Brunswick, with a particularly fine-looking team.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
Hugh Neff from Tok, Alaska, knows how to stand out in a crowd 🙂 Hugh won last year’s race – his race resume is lengthy, to say the least.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
This is Kelley Griffin, from Wasilla, Alaska. This is her 9th Yukon Quest since 2002! I never get tired of watching the excitement of the dogs, doing what they love to do.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
Allen Moore, from Two Rivers, Alaska – another race veteran.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
This is the first Yukon Quest for Matthew Failor, from Big Lake, Alaska.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
Scott Smith, from Willow, Alaska, is almost hidden by Quest fans as he heads towards the frozen Yukon River.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
The final musher, Crispin Studer, from Carcross, gets some help to get to the starting line.

Yukon Quest 2013, Whitehorse, Yukon
The ability to see where every musher is on the trail in real time is cool from a technology perspective, but has eliminated some of the “Magic & Mystery” that used to be part of the race – knowing that they were just out there somewhere in the frozen wilderness. At the moment, Hugh Neff has a 2-hour lead, and won 4 ounces of gold for being the first musher into Dawson City. You can see the live tracking by clicking on the image below.

Yukon Quest Live Tracking

After goofing off on Saturday, it was back to work on Sunday. I haven’t seen it confirmed, but this feels like a heavy snow year.

Clearing snow with a truck-mounted plow
Both my truck and back are getting good workouts. No need to have a gym membership in the Yukon – just live on acreage!

Shoveling snow in the Yukon
On Monday, it was off to our place in Carcross to dig it out – we haven’t been there at all this winter. It was dreary in Whitehorse when I left, but Montana Mountain at Carcross was looking good just before 10:00am.

Montana Mountain - Carcross, Yukon
I made a detour though Carcross to get a photo of the peaks up Lake Bennett in the sunshine.

Lake Bennett, Yukon, in the winter
Normally there’s a well-used snowmobile trail leading up the railway tracks to my property, but this year it was untracked snow, adding about 300 feet of knee-deep snow to wade through before starting the dig up to the cabin.

Carcross cabin in the winter
One shovel at a time 🙂

Carcross cabin in the winter
Clearing the roof is fun – clearing the snow away once it hits the ground, not so much.

Carcross cabin in the winter
The view down the lake to Mount Gray.

Mount Gray, Yukon
And across Carcross to Caribou Mountain. That’s the view that my webcam broadcast for several years while I lived there full-time.

Carcross webcam view
I went back up the highway to Spirit Lake Lodge for lunch, and took a few photos on the way back to the cabin.

Carcross, Yukon, in the winter
By 3:30 it was looking pretty good.

Carcross cabin in the winter
The important sub-path, to the outhouse, was done. I needed another day, though, and the forecast looked good for yesterday (Tuesday). I thought about staying at the cabin overnight, but didn’t have some of the necessities that make that a good idea – the first 2 things on that list being a book, and coffee for the morning.

Carcross cabin in the winter
Minus 23 was not what I’d expected to see yesterday morning!

I delayed my departure from Whitehorse a bit, and stopped to get a photo of these interesting cloud layers near Carcross, but it was still -18 when I got to the cabin.

Job 1 on a day like that is building a fire!

Carcross cabin in the winter
The frost feathers on the windows were beautiful, but I prefer “cozy”, and the stove soon brought that.

Frost feathers at the Carcross cabin in the winter
The back of the cabin was yesterday’s job. With the wind we’ve had this year, the drifting was quite deep, on the roof and the ground.

Carcross cabin in the winter
Monty and Kayla soon settled into “husky” mode – Monty in particular loves this place.

Yukon huskies in the winter
Time for a coffee break. Despite what the bottle on the table might indicate, it actually was coffee 🙂

Carcross cabin in the winter
This is the way the back looks now – the roof is cleared but it was much tougher than I’d expected and I ended up taking a nap, with Monty curled up on the couch beside me. This snow isn’t a big deal, and I’ll chip away at it as the mood strikes. The cabin is presentable for 2 viewings this weekend, which was the intent, so in an hour I’m off to Skagway again.

Carcross cabin in the winter


Mid-Winter in the Yukon – Yukon Quest Excitement, and Snow Clearing Not-so-much! — 7 Comments

  1. Great photos of the Quest, love the live tracking. That snow looks like an awful lot of work. How thick would the ice be on the Yukon river and are there any open spots?

  2. I had forgotten that it was Quest time. Thank you for the great photos. I will be showing Kiri when we see her this weekend. Tonight I have just watched that good old tear-jerker, “Eight Below”, for the second time, so seeing the huskies in these photos is apt. Sat. tomorrow, then Sun. morning, 6 a.m., we’ll be at the Airport to meet Michelle & Cameron. (J. next Sat.) Very exciting. I will try to make time to follow the Quest – I think last year I could get some live news on a site, would that be right? All the best with that Everest of snow you have to move. How’s your back??
    Best Regards,
    Marie G.

  3. The dog race is really interesting. Thanks for the link….I will be watching that. Again, you have some stunning photos. When you lived in Carcross I kept a pretty good watch on your webcam. It might seem boring to some people but I never tired of looking at it and seeing the view (very beautiful view) in the changing light. Don’t think I would ever get tired of looking at that view.

  4. Thanks for all of your comments.

    Bruce, the ice on the Yukon River probably ranges from 2-5 feet now, but there are some open stretches where there’s turbulence.

    Marie, you can get live updates on the Yukon Quest at http://www.yukonquest.com/site/live-tracking/ I’ve never watched “Eight Below” – I made the mistake of reading about the real story, and now don’t want to see it 🙁 That’s great that you’re going to see your adventurers, Michelle and Cameron 🙂

    Neal, my years at Carcross really were some of the best of my life, and there are times when I miss it. Beyond the view, it has a “vibe” that surprises many people when they first get there – very different than across the river in the village. The view never got boring, every day was different in some way – like the drive to Skagway 😀

  5. One more question: Is there any meaning to the bootie colors the dogs wear? Does a driver have particular colors for his dogs?

  6. Thank you for the Quest link. Yes, I know “Eight Below” was ‘adapted’ from a true story involving Japanese Antarctic scientists, is that right? – but I haven’t read the real version. Perhaps I should get it. In the film I think they let all the dogs survive; in reality, it was only one or two..?
    We are having a wonderful time out in the bush, in Parks and on beaches & even 4 yr. old Cameron came out with his observation about the differences in the trees.
    Beautiful mountain photos, as with every drive you do.
    Enjoy your Winter!
    Best Regards, Marie G.