Outdoors blog

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 12

Josh Rindal of Spokane leaves the little village of Ruby on the Yukon River along the Iditarod Trail. He and Bob Jones spent the night here after we came in from McGrath over the North Route. Rindal and Bob Jones of Kettle Falls were snowmobiling 1,400-miles along the route of Alaska's famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race in March 2014.
 (Robert Jones)
Josh Rindal of Spokane leaves the little village of Ruby on the Yukon River along the Iditarod Trail. He and Bob Jones spent the night here after we came in from McGrath over the North Route. Rindal and Bob Jones of Kettle Falls were snowmobiling 1,400-miles along the route of Alaska's famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race in March 2014. (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.  

Here's a tidbit Jones filed from the trail: 

We just got into Nulato after a very nice 100-mile run down the Yukon from Ruby. I had made arrangements for a couple of cots in the city building:  It's a back room they call "the apartment".  Two giant bare Cabela's cots are the bunks.  But it's perfect.  The gal who lined me up is having Josh and I for a moose stew dinner tonight, so I didn't bring the stove in! 

One note:  There is a bathroom across the hall from our room.  A quick check shows that this is the
first once since Skwentna!  Not big deal, but we have stayed in cabins and tents with no toilets in them for 8 straight nights.

  • 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 12 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 12:  (March 11, 2014) Tuesday

Ruby, Wild Iris B&B to Nulato, +4º

The owner of the Wild Iris is out of town and she had arranged for one gal to fix us dinner and another to fix us breakfast.  They each did their job well.

The weather turned from very cold and clear last night to warmer and overcast today.  We likely will be running our 100 miles to Nualato under the dreaded ‘flat light’ of the Yukon.   We joined that big river at Ruby.  When the snow is powder and deep alongside the trail, and the flat light situation rears it’s ugly head, we have at times been forced to run at night.  If one ski got off the narrow, packed trail the machine would flip out and into the bottomless snow almost instantly.  The headlights on the machines are vastly superior.

From here downriver, our first leg of the day will be the 52 miles to Galena.  And then it is 48 more miles to Nualato.  I arranged for us to stay in an apartment the village owns there for $60 bucks apeice for the night.  We went to the native-run store in Ruby and dropped off a satellite phone for Stephen.   Then went to the fuel depot to gas up.

We got a pleasant surprise here, and it wasn’t the low cost of the fuel.  It was far from low-cost at $6.65 per gallon.   I had come the 121.4 miles from the cabin on only 5.9 gallons of fuel, which gave me a fuel mileage of 20.5 mpg.  Considering the nature of the trail conditions, and the fact that I pulled a loaded tow sled for 100%

of the distance, that fuel economy was fantastic.  Joshes machine got the same exact

mileage.  In reality, we could have come all the way from McGrath to Ruby, a distance of 190 miles, with the 10.6 gallons we had in our tanks leaving the fuel dump in McGrath.

We rode out onto the ice of the Yukon and found both the surface and the quality of the overcast light to be fine.  The river was a racetrack.  We rode the first 30 miles in an hour, and I didn’t even have my face guard on.  Unlike yesterday’s headwind, today the wind was blowing downstream.  I made an unbelievable difference in the heat inside our clothes.

The remaining twenty miles into Galena weren’t quite as nice, but we made good time anyway.   We rode right to the C Store and fueled up for the second time today.

This time the distance traveled was 49.8 miles, and the fuel consumed was 2.4 gallons.  Which made a 20.75 per gallon average.  Wonderful!  Fuel was the same as at Ruby:  $6.65 per gallon.

We went into the little store and got warmed up while eating some little snacks.  The clerk gave us directions to the trail to Nulato, which lay 46 miles on down the river.

By then it was snowing, there were several inches of the white stuff on the ground from last night, and the light was terrible.  Josh ran ahead at about 20 miles per hour while I hung on tight and followed him.

The trail got better after the first hour, and we rode into Nulato at precisly 6pm.

That’s the earliest, by far, that we have gotten into our camp facilities for any night of the trip….

We found Gloria Patsy’s home and she had us down for a room for the night, as arranged.  She jumped into a pick-up truck and hollered ‘follow me’!  We only went a couple of blocks and we were home for the night.  Patsy showed us our little room, complete with bare Cabela’s cots for beds.  And a bathroom  is across the hall.  I did a quick mental evaluation and determined that this is the first place where we have stayed that has an inside toilet in at least the past 9 days!

Patsy invited us to come to her home for a moose-meat stew for dinner.  She didn’t have to ask twice!  Josh and I put our plunder away, made our beds, and headed for dinner.   Which was a mighty fine spread.  We had a great Alaskan bush conversation with Patsy’s son, who works on the North Slope and happens to be the champion wolf hunter in this village.

We rode back to our room at 9pm.  Tonight is the night I begin to catch up on the sleep I lost in McGrath.  And we had had an excellent ride here from Ruby.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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