Well, all the spectators have taken off, the mushers are long gone, the heat is off in all the cabins and the ponies spend their days out on the lake cleaning up the abandoned hay. We have mostly recovered from the chaos and things are slowly returning to the steady, calm pace of pre-Iditarod days.
The Iditarod staff have all been flown out as well as two mushers who had their Iditarod dreams crushed by the Happy river steps. “The steps” as that section is notoriously called, is a long hill that heads down to the happy river with dangerous curves and significant drop offs. Many mushers came in bruised and banged up after a rough ride over the steps. All but two were able to continue. Of the mushers who kept going, not all were able keep all their dogs. Each dog is thoroughly checked out by vets at each checkpoint. If a dog is too hurt, sore or sick to continue, they stay here with us and are then flown back to Anchorage where they are reunited with their musher and their team.
I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with the fleet of volunteers who work the Iditarod. Between the air force, who fly gear, people and dogs up and down the trail, the vets, who come in from all over the country to volunteer their time and expertise, to the communications and logistics people, plus the trail breakers and sweeps who spend many days on snowmobiles in front of or behind the mushers through terrible weather and over rough trail; they are all amazing. They are passionate about this sport, about the dogs, the mushers and the history of this race. They make this happen.