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Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 10

Snowmobilers Josh Rindal and Bob Jones take refuge in the Carlson's Crossing Cabin during their 1,400-mile Alaska journey following the trail of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  (Robert Jones)
Snowmobilers Josh Rindal and Bob Jones take refuge in the Carlson's Crossing Cabin during their 1,400-mile Alaska journey following the trail of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. (Robert Jones)

SNOWMOBILING -- Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip -- which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click "continue reading" to see Jones's diary from Day 10 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Day 10:  (March 9, 2014) Sunday 

McGrath to Carlson’s Crossing of the Innoko BLM Cabin, -20º at 8 a.m.

We got up at the crack of 9:30am and went to the house for coffee and a great breakfast of sourdough hotcakes, eggs, ham and sausage.  WOW!

McGrath is a hard place to leave, even when you have been there for three nights!

Josh and I slowly packed up.  The hands on my watch were racing around…….When we had said our goodbyes, for about the tenth time, we finally rode out of Steph’s yard.  Our last stop would be to top off our fuel situation for the 200-mile ride which lie ahead.  It is a long way from McGrath to Ruby, and we wanted to make sure we had enough fuel on board to make it.

We filled a 5-gallon fuel jug that I had bought in Wasilla.  And we had rustled up three 1-gallon oil and anti-freeze containers as well.  That would give us 8 gallons, 4 gallons apiece, aside from our full 10.6 gallon tanks on the machines.  The thermometer at Crowley Petroleum read -14º as we filled up and departed at 1:15pm.  We would have a cold, 70-mile ride today.

The plan was to ride the 18 miles of trail to the little village of Takotna, where we would each pour one of the 1-gallon containers into our machines, and then throw the used up jugs into the burn barrel in front of the checkpoint building there.

The trail was so rough that one of our 1-gallon containers developed a hole near it’s top at the 3.9-mile point.  We topped-off both tanks out of the jug, and Josh held the remainder in his lap waiting for more miles to create more room for fuel in our tanks.

We stopped at the 10-mile mark and, by that time, one of the other 1-gallon jugs had developed a pin-hole leak.  We topped off both tanks for the third time in an hour, and poured the remaining fuel into the least-leaking container.  By the time we made the two-hour-run-from-McGrath-over-a-very-rough-trail, we had lost some fuel but had both tanks full.  And I still had the last full container strapped to the back of my seat for protection.

We took a couple of photos of the now-abandoned checkpoint of Takotna and headed north.

The sun was shining, but the cold of the day overpowered the solar power the sun provided.  We had left McGrath dressed with that in mind.

Once we left Takotna, the miserable, mogul infested trail flattened itself out and the ride became, for next 21 miles to Ophir, the best we had for this trip.

Four hours after we left Crowley Fuel in McGrath we rode into the Ophir Checkpoint to find it completely abandoned.  Ophir consists of a couple of 100-years old log cabins belonging to the Forsgren family, and the Iditarod race has used the site as a checkpoint every year, beginning with Race No. 1 in 1973.  It is the most photographic checkpoint on the trail.  I poured our 3rd and last 1-gallon jug into my machine.

Josh and I still had another 30 miles to ride to what we hoped would be our little shelter cabin for the night.  We pulled out of Ophir at 6pm.

The trail narrowed down at this point, but it actually got flatter and smoother.  We could run along at a 15-20 mile-an-hour clip.  And we only stopped to take a couple of photos.

We rode up the the little BLM shelter cabin at Carlson’s Crossing of the Innoko River right at 8pm.  We arrived at almost the exact same time as darkness.  The little cabin look mighty inviting!

It was COLD, so the first chore was to get a healthy fire going in the wood-burning barrel inside.  Then we swept the floor, straightened things up inside, and moved in. 

Somehow durig the move-in process I slipped and fell backwards off the porch and landed spred-eagle, flat on my back, on a big plank and the running board of Joshes machine.  I laid there for a long time, but finally got up and staggered into the cabin.  Josh handled most of the chores from then on!

A Honda generator on the front porch and three ceiling lights provided us with exceptional light for the cabin.

Things slowly warmed up as we got all moved in.  Dinner and a much-overdue night’s sleep were on the venue.

I got the water cooking on a handy little counter top stove with two burners while Josh packed most of the gear we would need inside.

We had arrived at 8pm.  By 10pm we were through with dinner, had the woodstove tuned up, and our beds were laid out and ready….Another hour was spent on our diaries and it was ‘lights out’ just after 11pm.  A handful of Aleves made my sore back feel a little better.




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