With the Yukon Quest in Dawson City – Day 2

On Thursday, we spent another full day immersed in Yukon Quest sled dog action at the Dawson City checkpoint.

The morning dawned clear and cold, though a bit warmer at -29°C (-20°F). I got to the checkpoint just before 8:00 – after missing 3 teams by arriving minutes too late, I had stopped depending on the Live Tracker as more than an approximation.

Dawson City, Yukon, on a winter morning
Ryne Olson arrives at 08:39, in 14th position.

Ryne Olson's Yukon Quest 2015 team arrives at Dawson City, Yukon
Seconds after arriving at the checkpoint, Ryne Olson didn’t look like she’d just mushed a dog team through 500 miles of wilderness! 🙂

2015 Yukon Quest musher Ryne Olson at Dawson City, Yukon
I didn’t spend nearly as much time doing non-Yukon Quest shooting as I thought I would, but some scenes such as the Third Avenue Hotel Complex couldn’t be passed up.

Old buildings - the Third Avenue Hotel Complex - at Dawson City, Yukon
Jeremy and I moved the schedule around a bit so that the group could all see two mushers depart from the campground for Eagle. We arrived about 40 minutes early to allow lots of time, as walking in heavy gear is slow and tiring.

Yukon Quest mushers' camp at Dawson City, Yukon
Final preparations to get back on the trail were being made at Ed Hopkins’ camp as we passed by.

Yukon Quest musher Ed Hopkins' team at Dawson City, Yukon

Yukon Quest musher Ed Hopkins' team at Dawson City, Yukon
Ed’s wife, Michelle Phillips, gives lead dog Bear some love. Michelle had won the Yukon Quest 300 just 2 days before.

Michelle Phillips with Yukon Quest musher Ed Hopkins' team at Dawson City, Yukon
For spectators, part of the excitement of the race is certainly seeing and hearing the dogs’ excitement. This short video gives you a bit of that.


I got a position out on the riverbank to shoot the departures. Fifteen minutes after the schedule 10:20 departure of Ray Redington Jr., a team came down the trail, but it was Ed Hopkins, at his scheduled time.

2015 Yukon Quest musher Ed Hopkins' team leaves Dawson City, Yukon
To avoid a very large stretch of open water below Dawson, this year’s trail goes back up-river for a half mile or so before crossing to the north side.

2015 Yukon Quest musher Ed Hopkins' team leaves Dawson City, Yukon
Word was passed down to those of us along the trail that Ray Redington Jr. had scratched at the last minute, moving Ed Hopkins up into 5th place. Here, work starts on taking apart Ray’s camp for the return to Knik, Alaska.

2015 Yukon Quest musher Ray Redington Jr's camp at Dawson City, Yukon
This is Lance Mackey’s fancy sled setup, with a cooker behind the main sled and a basket sled for a possible injured dog behind that.

Lance Mackey's fancy Yukon Quest sled setup at Dawson City, Yukon
One of the race vets at work.

Yukon Quest mushers' camp at Dawson City, Yukon
Returning to town, we next went to the Dawson City Museum, which opened up for us. It does a very good job of explaining what life was life both before and after the big gold strike on August 16, 1896 that would make the name “Klondike” famous around the world.

Dawson City Museum, Yukon
Although for the majority of people, life in the Dawson City area after the strike was a basic frontier one as shown by the log cabin in the photo above, for others Dawson was “The San Francisco of the North”, with most of the amenities seen in any city of the time, including electricity, and entertainment aimed at the mostly-male population.

Dawson City Museum, Yukon
We next drove back across the river and past the “Closed” sign on the Top of the World Highway, to see if we could reach a great view over Dawson and the Klondike River. Some other people had had the same idea, so we reached it with no problem.

Top of the World Highway in the winter
Dawson and the Klondike River.

A winter view of Dawson City, Yukon, from the Top of the World Highway
The pastel colours of the Westmark Hotel are wonderful in the winter (though the hotel is only open in the summer).

A winter view of Dawson City, Yukon, from the Top of the World Highway
It was a great spot for a group portrait as well (2 people didn’t come).

A winter tour group portrait overlooking Dawson City, Yukon
Driving back to town.

Top of the World Highway in the winter
At 4:15, several of us were back at the mushers’ camp for the departure of two more teams. Up on the road, I got hugs from 3 of this fellow’s very sociable dogs 🙂

Sled dogs at Dawson City, Yukon
Normand Casavant’s team gets ready for the trail to Eagle – he would start in 7th place. Journeys by Jerry Van Dyke, the company I’m working for on this trip, sponsored his bib, #3.

Yukon Quest 2015 musher Normand Casavant's team at Dawson City, Yukon
Cody Strathe’s would be the next team out, in 6th place.

Yukon Quest 2015 musher Cody Strathe's team at Dawson City, Yukon
Love the license plate on the back of Lance Mackey’s sled – “on by” is the command for dogs to go by something that’s distracting them.

Lance Mackey's sled at Dawson City, Yukon
Mike Ellis’ Siberian huskies looked like they were ready to go, though they weren’t scheduled to depart for over 4 hours yet.

Some of the Siberian huskies in Mike Ellis' Yukon Quest 2015 team
At 4:50, exactly 24 hours after arriving in Dawson, Cody Strathe and his dogs were on their way to Eagle. I love the smile on that dog – he’s back doing what he loves to do 🙂

Cody Strathe and his dogs on the 2015 Yukon Quest trail
This British couple were hiking back down the river to an island that they live on, after coming to town for supplies.

Hiking down the Yukon River in the winter
At 5:13, Normand Casavant and his team were back on the trail.

Normand Casavant and his 2015 Yukon Quest team of dogs

Normand Casavant and his 2015 Yukon Quest team of sled dogs

That was the end of my up-close-and-personal Yukon Quest action for this year, but some of my guests were back down to the river for more that night. I’ll be watching the rest of it from my nice warm office chair 🙂

On Friday, we made the long drive back to Whitehorse, and tomorrow, Saturday, we’ll be giving the group a final look around the city before their flight out Sunday morning.



Comments

With the Yukon Quest in Dawson City – Day 2 — 2 Comments

  1. Amazing pictures from an amazing trip!! I loved my time in Dawson during the Quest! It was my first of 3 times doing the Sour Toe Cocktail!! Thanks for sharing Murray! 🙂