Monday, February 8, 2010

The Yukon Quest 2010

Wow---what a busy four days in Fairbanks. Arriving wednesday night my friend Marian and I went to a Meet the Mushers gathering. Very crowded, but lots of fun.

Above, 4 time Quest Champion Lance Mackey with Sonny Lindner---the winner of the first Yukon Quest. On the right, Ken Anderson. Ken and Lance are arch rivals in long distance sled dog racing.

On thursday Marian and I traveled to Mackey's Comeback Kennel in Fox, Alaska to shoot a commercial for a dog food company. I shot video so have no photos, but what a great time. Lance is always so much fun to be around. Plus, I met Newton Marshall, the Jamaican musher who is training for Iditarod with Lance. I did trade Lance one of my Running With Spirits videos for one of his fabulous signature sweatshirts. Tonya, Lance's wife, is modeling it for me below at the Meet the Mushers gathering.

You can see more photos of the Meet the Mushers at:

On the way to Lance's we did spy a moose browsing under the pipeline, so pulled over to take a few photos. I think it was glad when we left. LOL!

Thursday afternoon was a quick trip to the Yukon Quest store to buy souvenirs. Fairbanks was warmer than normal for February, but hoarfrost was still visible.

The Quest HQ has moved to the little log cabin by the Chena River on First St---or is it Ave.?? :)
Anyway, prefect spot for it by the Cushman Bridge. The church across the Chena River looked sparkly in the setting sun.(below)

Friday was spent with friend Helen Hegener. She has a fabulous website. You should check that out. She follows mushing and gets out to as many races as she can. Go to:

We went to the area where they are carving ice sculptures for an exhibit in a few weeks. Some very creative designs. It's always amazing to me to see that a block of ice can be turned into some pretty cool things.

The bears here were guarding the exit of an ice maze. They were very cute! Marian and Helen stand in the entrance to the maze below.

I loved the ice house with dog in the front yard. The house was full size about 12 x 12. It had a bed, table with tv and rabbit ears, a dresser, another table with ice goblets and a boars head craving hanging on the wall. Very cool!!!
Helen and Marian refused to sit on the ice bed---too cold. LOL---see below.

I shot video of the actual start which will be on my You Tube page later...look under djqhusky. But I did get some photos of mushers preparing for the start. A very intense time for some of them. Others who are used to the routine may have been nervous---after all, 1000 miles across the wilds of Alaska and the Yukon is nothing to sneeze at---but their composure was admirable.
Sleds are prepared. 21 is Joshua Cadzow.
My friend Karen Ramstead. She runs pure bred Siberian Huskies. Her kennel is North Wapiti. She says she is running the Quest in 2011. Yahoo---I'll make a new Pretty Sled Dogs video if she does!!

                                                                                    Team being fed a couple hours before the start.

Marian and Carol Falcetta above. Carol takes wonderful mushing photos. She has her own special technique that is quite lovely. One of her photos in on the cover of the current issue of Mushing Magazine. Lance Mackey (below,right) dropping dogs before the start. He had no handlers at this point. I asked if he would like me to help and politely declined. Said it was no problem for him to do this alone and I think he preferred it this way. What a champion!

Gerry Willomitzer(above), veteran of the Quest and Iditarod, checks his sled bag. Abbie West (left), is a Quest rookie this year. Her gear all had gold stars on a blue background. She might be color coordinated, but her team looked strong coming down the chute. Don't think just because she a girl she can't make it!

                             A Quest dog ready to go!!


On our way to the Two Rivers checkpoint we dropped Karen off at her Alaskan home of Jan DeNapoli. Those who know my Running With Spirits video know that Jan is also an incredible photographer. Anyway, I was thrilled to see all the pretty sled dogs again---even though some of them were just at my home last week for the Don Bowers. I feel in love with one of the new kids--Shooter (below).

Karen has the best looking Siberian around. Of course, I can never remember all the this one--but what a face!

Everyone knows Crunchie--the crunchman!!

No matter where Karen goes in the dog yard, all eyes are on her. Amazing!


Teams pass the Pleasant Valley store along the Chena Hot Springs Rd on their way to the Two Rivers checkpoint. This is Peter Fleck (left).
Dries Jacobs mushes through the setting sun at the Pleasant Valley store.
A team enters the resting area at the Two Rivers checkpoint (left).

Notice the team being held by the National Guardsmen(right). This team was passing through the checkpoint when the leaders made a turn towards the resting teams. The Guardsmen averted a disaster by grabbing the leaders and getting them back on the trail. Nice job---well done!!

Lance Mackey's well trained team slept through all the commotion---good dogs!

Mike Ellis also runs a team of Siberian Huskies---I am partial to the breed. :) Here they check in at the Two Rivers checkpoint. (above)

A spectacular sunset over the resting teams at Two Rivers. Can you tell I am a happy spectator???

Good luck to all the mushers and dogs on the Yukon Quest. I'll be following their progress on facebook and the Quest


  1. Great post Donna!! Fabulous shots!! That unnamed black and white dog is Roscoe, BTW!!

  2. Fantastic photos and story. Almost make me feel like I'm right there, watching it with you! Keep on keeping on, Donna!

  3. Great blog Donna, thanks for all the photo's.
    I have to agree, Shooter is a very loveably bog with such a great nature, not taking away anything from any other NW dog.
    Cheers Chris

  4. What a great blog, super pictures, good information and we love that you take us along!
    The dog pics are so cute and I love the colors in the landscape.

  5. Donna, I'm so thrilled that you started your blog again---it is wonderful. Great Photos, wonderful text, nothing like making us all think we're right there. What a trip you two have had--Karen, North Wapiti dogs, Jan, a trip to Lance's, sunsets, sled dogs WOW. Alaska heaven.

  6. Man--Crunchy the Crunchman is cute!!!! And of course, Spirit too---and I think all Huskies are naturally beautiful. I'm really thinking a lot these days of finding a way to work with the canines as a full time career....ahh--once a dog lover....

  7. Absolutely beautiful work AS ALWAYS! It's inspiring (wink, wink).

  8. Finally got a chance to read this and relive the weekend's fun - wonderful photos and great commentary, Donna!

  9. Donna, it was great to be able to look at the photos while I was in Asia..........

  10. Hello,

    My name is Dries Jacobs and I and trying to collect pictures off my Quest team. A good pictures is so hard to come by. When I saw these pics I knew I had to have them ;-) Can you send me copies of the two original pictures you made (bib # 22)? Thanks a lot! Dries Jacobs

  11. Dries--please send me an email address.