We're at the village of Nikolai now, and the men here, pictured with Lisa (a volunteer), are the
trailbreakers (also volunteers), who travel in front of the dog teams to ensure the trail is in the
proper condition for dog teams to travel on it.

My first morning in Nikolai and the thermometer indicates just how much fun
we're going to have here!

Here are two Iditarod racers, coming into Nikolai, that have been running
across the Farewell Burn (between Rohn and Nikolai) all night in -30F weather.

Here I am with my new parka (left), along with Dr. Paul Nader, a veterinarian
for the Iditarod, at the Nikolai checkpoint. We wanted a record of what we looked
like with only three hours of sleep!

This is Patricia, a four-year-old future musher! The people of Nikolai are
Athabascan Indians and they made us feel very welcome in their village of 80 people.

The school children of Nikolai welcomed the competitors in Iditarod '99 with this poster
they displayed outside their school. There are about 15 students in the K-through-8th
grade school here.

Here is a sleepy pair of Siberian Huskies, the only team with these purebred beauties in it.
The typical Iditarod dog is any dog (never a purebred) that can run 100 miles per day and
withstand the harsh conditions of the Alaskan winter. Iditarod dogs can outperform any
purebred dog of any breed when running the Iditarod.

The Trail Sweeps.
These volunteers run behind all of the dog teams as a safety measure to make sure
nobody gets lost or stranded. Today they are leaving Nikolai to go back down
the trail to see how the last musher is getting along. He's a little slow and
they will make sure he is moving and see whether he needs help.
Their faces are completely covered, including goggles to prevent
their eyes from being frostbitten. The person riding behind
the driver is a veterinarian, just in case the dogs
need assistance, too.

This picture shows the Trail Sweeps preparing to go back down the trail.
They each carry 20 gallons of gasoline as gas stations are few and far
between on the Iditarod Trail! They are ready to carry a full dog
team, the musher, and his/her sled, if necessary.

Here are some hunters that came through Nikolai on snow machines.
They all carry rifles, snowshoes, lots of gasoline, and very
heavy sleeping bags.

Veterinarian Dr. Bob Harwood wears a non-traditional hat while making
his rounds in the dog lot at Nikolai

This Siberian Husky takes a power nap while sitting quietly at Nikolai.

It's time to leave Nikolai and head for McGrath, where we pick up another
flight for Unalakleet. We're loading the Cessna 185 with our gear, as light
snow falls and the ceiling lowers. On the way to McGrath, we see two herds
of caribou (reindeer), but I've discovered that photographing animals from a
small plane is not so easy!

Click for McGrath, Takotna, Unalakeet

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