Yukon Quest, Hot Air Balloons & …

Despite a good weather forecast for this past weekend, I had good intentions to get some work done. Then a couple came into the office and I got a reminder that this was Yukon Quest weekend – how did that sneak up on me?

Cathy had heard that the Quest start had been moved from its downtown location to Shipyards Park, and I was very unhappy about that. We want to keep a vibrant downtown but keep moving major events out – first Rendezvous and now the Quest. The first photo shows the new setup as you walk up to it from the parking lots.

The quest for a great viewing spot – this would be excellent for seeing the teams as they stage….

… but the first curve offered better action. This is the first team out – the musher is Kelley Griffin.

There goes Mike Ellis (bib #5) down the frozen Yukon River.

We then moved up the track a bit and found an unoccupied berm that offered good shooting – this is Christine Roalofs’ team. I noticed that her bib sponsor was a tour company that I used to work with – Journeys by Jerry Van Dyke, from Ontario. Cathy reminded me that I was guiding a Van Dyke tour when we followed along for a few days back in 2000. I said that I’d love to see the escort on that tour, Mark Van Dyke. A few minutes later I noticed that Mark was standing about 50 feet further down the track! We had a short but great chat about the old days and new situations 🙂

Dan Kaduce, musher #10.

A broad look from our new location as musher #11, Sebastian Schnuelle, and his team start their epic journey to Fairbanks.

Sebastian Schnuelle’s team is very colourful and is always easy to recognize.

Hans Gatt, who is in 3rd position as I write this.

We then moved up to the start line, mostly to get a better look at the dogs. I love seeing how excited they are.

Jerry Joinson readies his team…

…whose members have widely varying attitudes towards the starting process 🙂

At 12:11 the final team left the starting line – for us watching the Yukon Quest now switches from live to online. Some day we’ll get up to Dawson City for the mandatory layover there.

On Sunday morning, I had to go into Whitehorse to pick up a tiny part for a long-overdue job in the kitchen. BUT, as we were passing the airport, there was a hot air bolloon floating down the valley!!

Then there wasn’t one balloon but 5 of them, and the mad scramble began to figue out the best shooting location and to figure out where they might be going.

The open area across from the truck scales was fairly good, but then I decided that Schwatka Lake would be prime and might even be their intended landing site.

Schwatka Lake was indeed the spot to be! I was surprised to see very few people there. The last time we had hot air ballooons here in the winter was many, many years ago during Rendezvous.

The 4th ballon threaded his way through a narrow gap in the hills at very low altitude. All the while, my husky Monty was hanging out the window, totally fixed on the balloons, a sight he’d never seen before.

And the final balloon sets down.

Despite all the excitement over the weekend I actually did get some work done. Waaaay back last June, a couple of days after I’d gone away to work on the Coral Princess, Cathy had a new high-tech dishwasher delivered. On Sunday, I finally installed it!!


Yukon Quest, Hot Air Balloons & … — 6 Comments

  1. I think those long-distance sled-dog races, such as the Quest and the Iditarod are amazing feats on the part of the dog teams and their mushers. They are modern-day extreme-sports heroes, who keep alive your history and proud traditions.
    The balloons were an unexpected sight – I didn’t realise hot-air balloons flew in the Yukon in Winter! Wonderful photos.

    Best Regards,
    Marie G.

  2. Awesome photos! I heard about this on NPR and wondered if you went to see that. People really wait all night in the cold and dark for the teams to come?

    • Welcome to ExploreNorth, chinita. People do indeed go without sleep and risk frostbite to see the teams. Even in Whitehorse and Fairbanks it’s a big deal and in Dawson City the Quest is one of THE events of the year 🙂

  3. Hello,

    Nice pictures of race.

    Can I use Kelley Griffin picture to print it on envelope(only 3 envelope).? I am going to send her to carry with her next race.

    Please let me know.