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Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 21

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane have repeated their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in starting in February and finishing on March 21, 2014.

They endured bitter cold, treacherous ice, whiteout conditions and a hill so steep they needed a winch.

“It’s not a wildly popular thing to do,” said Jones, 74, noting that only one other snowmobiler did the entire route this year. “But it’s one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in my life for two reasons: the land and the people.”

ALSO:

  • Click “continue reading” below to see Jones's last diary post from Day 21 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 20

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 20 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 19

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 19 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 18

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.  

Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 18 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 17

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 17 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 16

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 16 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 15

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 15 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 14

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 14 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 13

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 13 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 12

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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 11

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 11 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 10

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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 9

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 9 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 8

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 8 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 7

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 7 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 6

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 6 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 5

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 5 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 4

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 4 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 3

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 3 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.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 2

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are “150 miles up the trail and all is well” as they repeat their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile.  “We're hearing constant horror stories about things ahead,” reports Jones by email. “All in all the trail has been very good. The cold nighttime temperatures of the last couple of nights have really saved our bacon. Wireless is weak here… no photos until McGrath….”

  • 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' diary from Day 2 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure underway this winter.

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

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 1

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.  

  • 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 1 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure underway this winter.

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

Alaska, Iditarod hurting for snow

SNOWMOBILING — Don't bother driving your snowmobile — or your sled dogs — to Alaska in search of good snow conditions.

Bob Jones of Kettle Falls drove up the Alaska-Canada Highway with his son in law, Josh Rindal, to make another 1,000-mile run on their sleds to follow the famous Iditarod sled dog race.  Jones chronicled his 14th Iditarod expedition in 2012 in this diary series.

At the end of last year's odyssey he said he'd sold his snowmobiles and was over his obsession with following the route.

Nevertheless, he's back.

“But all  you see is brown from Rohn to Nicolai. The race will start in Willow.  Here's a report he filed last night, with some interesting obervations about the changes to the Alcan.

About an hour ago I was sitting on the frozen Knik Lake, looking for a snow pile to unload our two machines onto in the morning.  There were NONE.  It didn't appear that any snow had been plowed on the ice on the lake all winter!  There might be 2-inches at most on the ice.  We'll just jerk them off the trailer onto the ice in the morning.  We almost decided to go the easy way from Deshka Landing to Skwentna tomorrow, but the Historic Iditarod.

Trail out of Knik is going to be our choice again this year:  After all, it IS the Iditarod Trail! The real kicker was the reading on the temperature gauge in my truck:  FIFTY DEGREES in Wasilla!!!  Holy S…!

The top of Rainy Pass was much warmer than Kettle Falls today.  So I can't imagine what's going to be in store for us up the trail:  Probably not much good! We came close to 'scratching' here in Wasilla, but decided to make a run for it.  There is NO snow around Nome, and they had a “freezing rain alert” in Golovin for today. 

Hopefully we will get some good old cold weather in a few days. We can always come back to Knik……well, maybe…..and we can quit at McGrath or Unalakleet and fly our shit back to Anchorage.

I had a great trip up the Alcan.  There were two major changes which have occurred in the 12 years since a drunk

like me was allowed into Canada:  First, oil exploration has made a major city out of little Fort St. John.  And, second, the area north of Whitehorse, to the Alaska Border, is now such a boring freeway that it isn't even fun to drive it anymore.  Perhaps the most over-built highway on the planet!  Good old Uncle Sam just gave the Canooks a big blank check and they made the most of it.  The most disgusting part of the whole thing is that the Canadians have NO sense of the great history of the Alcan. There are NO signs left along the road depicting any of that.  What a shame!  And I mean not a single sign for 300 miles telling anything of the highway:  Zero! 

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Chilly good-bye: Diary, days 18-21

SNOWMOBILING — The last leg of their adventure following the Iditarod Sled Dog Race started smoothly as Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane left Nome, Alaska, to run back 250 miles to return a borrowed snowmobile at Unalakleet.

But the biggest adventure of the trip that would total nearly 1,400 miles was on its way.
 
The first day was a sweet 106 miles to a cozy cabin, and the next day another swift 125 miles in cold, clear weather.
 
Then the blizzard hit. Bob got stuck in a whiteout. Josh fell through a snowbridge and soaked his feet in a creek.
 
Read on for the details and photos on how they holed up and survived thelast day and night of their irondogging trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Last leg of Trip: Diary, days 16-17

SNOWMOBILING — After celebrating their 1,100-mile snowmobile trip on the Iditarod Trail behind the Iditarod Sled Dog Race at two post-event banquets with dog mushers in Nome, Bob Jones and Josh Rindal are getting back in the saddle for a two-day, 250-mile trip backtracking to Unalakleet to return a borrowed snowmobile.

The video (above) is a clip from Tuesday's KHQ-TV interview regarding my blog on the intrepid irondoggers.

It's just one more leg of their adventure: two more days of traveling in bitter cold and camping in drafty trail cabins. Are they about done in?  No.  Jones said he wishes he could be starting all over.

“Spring makes fantastic snowmobiling in Alaska,” he said, “Even at 20 below.”

Read on for Jones's Iditarod diary for days 16-17.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Nome Sweet Nome! Diary, day 15

SNOWMOBILING — After 15 days of mostly below-zero temperatures and 1,100 miles of Iditarod Trail that did-in one of their snowmobiles, Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane finally arrived in Nome, Alaska, on Sunday afternoon — in time to celebrate with the sled dog mushers at their race-end bandquet.

They had to negotiate a  notoriously dangerous stretch of wind-blown ice and scoot into town running on fumes for lack of fuel, but ohhhh what a reception:  They got in the food line to a winner's banquet of prime rib, halibut and a dog sled full of fresh strawberries, for starters.

But while Bob and Josh recuperate a day or two in Nome, their expedition isn't quite over.  Click “continue reading” as Jones explains in his Diary and photos.

Also: click here to see a photo gallery of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Cold overlooked along Iditarod Trail

Septuagenarian Bob Jones of Kettle Falls has chiseled into the frozen culture of arctic Alaska as he's snowmobiled 1,000 miles along the Iditarod Trail.  His diary and photos have been a highlight of my blog for two weeks.

Here's one of Jones's many observations from icy remote villages as he pushed through bitter temperatures:

“Cold weather is never a conversation topic among Alaska villagers. When it drops to 30 below, they just put on another layer of clothing and go about their business.”

Of course, it might be different if Alaska villagers had to come up with something quick to say on an  elevator lift to their office.

See Bob Jones's Diary and photos, days 1-6.

See Diary and photos for days 7-10.

See Diary and photos for days 11-12.

See Diary and photos for days 13-14.

See Nome Sweet Nome: Diary and photos for Day 15.

See Diary and photos for days 16-17.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Diary, days 13-14

SNOWMOBILING — “I'm too tired to even look at pictures,” snowmobiler Bob Jones said in an email from the tiny village of Golovin on the Iditarod Trail. (Additional photos will come later and be posted here.)   He'd just put in an 11-hour  day that extended well into the night to reach a place where he and Josh Rindal could get out of the cold for a few hours of sleep before continuing their 1,000-mile journey to Nome following the Iditarod Trail.

Despite a fierce cold and a major breakdown that forced them to find a snowmobile to borrow, Jones, from Kettle Falls, and Rindal, from Spokane, have an outside chance of making the Mushers Banquet in Nome tonight (March 18) — if they can make the last 90 brutal miles in one day.

“It will be a cold ride, just like today's was,” Jones reported. “It's -9º and breeze outside as I write this from the library at the Golovin school.  It's about +70º in here and my sleeping bag is only about 5 feet away on a pad on the floor.”

Then he crashed and slept like a bear in winter… until early the next morning when he filed his diary for two days (click continued reading below) and offered these additional updates:

Mileage: Nearly 1,000 miles so far out of a total trip that will reach about 1,300 miles if they return to Unalakleet as planned.

He had one final thought about his cozy quarters on the library floor before heading out in the bitter cold for another long day: “This is a beautiful school. Probably costs more on a cost-of-heat-per-kid basis than anywhere in the Lower 48!”

I replied to Jones noting that he was an ironman model for people older than 70. “I wonder what all the other septuagenarians in Kettle Falls are doing today?” I poked.

“Being more intelligent!” he replied.

Click “continue reading” to see Jone's Iditarod diary and photos.

Also: click here to see a continuously updated photo gallery of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Diary, days 11-12

SNOWMOBILING — Chilled but not chilled out, Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane contginued their snowmobile trek along the Iditarod Trail even though the Iditarod sled dog race is is over and the winners have packed up for home.

“Zero degrees here last night with nary a cloud in the sky.  The most perfect day for traveling imaginable,” Jones said, indicating he was happy to still be on the trail.

“The sun is getting some power and sometimes we can feel the heat through our thick clothing.

“Machines are running fine and things are going great!”

On days 11 and 12  they continued to enjoy hospitality from natives with only a few stressful encounters with deep snow in the arctic cold.

Read on for more of Jones's diary and photos.

Also: click here to see a continuously updated photo gallery of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Diary, days 7-10

SNOWMOBILING — As fate would have it, the real adventure began 70 miles from any assistance behind the racers in the Iditarod sled dog race. As the temperature plunged to minus 32 degrees — nearly 60 degrees colder than the day they started out following the Iditarod Trail — snowmobilers Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane faced some arctic cruelness:

  • The starter on Bob's snowmobile was falling apart.
  • A clunking noise was developing in Josh's snowmobile.
  • A friend died in McGrath and the town had to unite to dig a grave in the frozen ground.
  • Fuel was $7.15 a gallon in McGrath.
  • Bob and Josh had to drive over a dead moose in the trail.
  • And then Josh's snowmobile developed problems that threatened to end the 1,000-mile expedition.

Click “continue reading” to see how the two ingenious adventurers saved their butts by hooking on to something a fisherman left behind in a remote BLM cabin.

Also: click here to see a continuously updated photo gallery of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Iron-dogging the Iditarod Trail:

Diary, days 1-6, plus links for entire trip

SNOWMOBILING — Snowmobiler Bob Jones, 72, of Kettle Falls was in Alaska this winter, once again following the annual Iditarod sled dog race with his son-in-law, Josh Rindal, who works at Fairchild Air Force Base.

We followed Jones's diary of ups and downs from the arduous trip on the Iditarod Trail as he reached several personal milestones:

  • — His 100th Alaska visit.
  • — A total of more than 20,000 miles following the 950- to 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.

Here's a wrapup story about Jones and his love-hate relationship with snowmobiles, but read on to follow his journey day by day.

Jones, a colorful guy with a gift for gab, is a familiar face in the remote villages along the race’s two routes since he began following the event by snowmobile in 1995.

“The first year, eight snowmobiles followed the route, and my Washington group had four,” he said. “One year, I was the only one doing the whole thing.”

He tows a trailer with gear for camping in bitter cold. Sometimes he stays in roadhouses.

“The villagers all know me and like me because I only stay a day, have a good time and leave,” he said.

Live the arctic life with with Jones by clicking “continue reading” for the first six days of diary posts from the Iditarod Trail, followed by links for Bob's take on the rest of the trip.

Also, click here to see a photo gallery of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.