Ophir Checkpoint 2

This is the main cabin at Ophir in a year where the snowfall was unusually heavy.

Left to right are the wood shed, the fuel (liquid) shed, the workshop, and the main cabin.

This is a typical scene at a checkpoint, with teams resting and straw available
for teams that will arrive soon. It is still overcast, keeping the temperature
in the low 20's. But ... that only lasted for three days, then things changed.

This is volunteer Jim Psiones handling an arriving dog team. We never
had to worry about Jim getting lost up there, but we did worry about
our camera lenses being overwhelmed by the color of "MR. ORANGE"!

Driving the snow machine to the airstrip is veterinarian Dr. Heather Low from
Oregon. Volunteer Bob Hughes hurries to get out of her way and checker/owner
Keith Forsgren thinks about whether his insurance is paid up or not (!).

This is a weak attempt to do some "artsy" photography. These two pix
were taken through the window of the sauna (communications shack), where
icicles are hanging from the roof. Hmmmm ... this needs work. Oh well.

Let's look at some Iditarod racers!

The blue-eyed dogs are my favorite. There are always plenty of those in the race.

The next two are "dropped dogs", having been left here due to soreness,
being tired, or not being able to pull 100%. They will be flown to Anchorage
on the next plane to await the arrival of the musher at the end of the race.
They are pampered by the checkpoint volunteers during the short time they are in camp.

This year's pile o' dogs ... there are four in here ... somewhere.

Jack Niggemyer, former Iditarod Race Manager (18 years), stops by in the
role of Trail Sweep (a team of snow machiners running behind all the dog
teams to ensure their safety). By this time we're all a little ... "rummy",
having been on the Trail several days with a shower nowhere in sight, obviously (!).

Things got really interesting on Sunday morning, 3/15/09. The skies were
clear and the temperature dropped to -47 degrees, colder than I've ever
seen it in the Interior. You need to be very careful under these conditions
as your skin cannot be exposed more than a few minutes without it becoming
very painful. It's time to shut the camp down as all the teams are gone
and it's difficult working outside in this temperature. We're outta here!

We're flying back to Anchorage from McGrath, carrying eight dropped dogs in this
single engine turboprop airplane. From here we all head home ... after a shower
and a good night's sleep. Thanks for viewing my 2009 Iditarod adventure!

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