Dogs sunbathe on the snow at the Rainy Pass checkpoint on Monday. With temperatures around 40 degrees, some mushers didn’t put down the usual bedding for the dogs so that they could cool down. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
RAINY PASS LODGE — A snow-covered frozen lake near the remote lodge here turned into a sled dog parking lot Monday afternoon as Iditarod teams stopped to rest in temperatures that hovered around 40 degrees.
Mushers shed layers. Dogs sunbathed. Tourists flown in on charter planes snapped photos under a hot sun.
“It feels like it’s 100 degrees,” said musher Wade Marrs.
The Rainy Pass checkpoint is about 150 miles into the race and, tucked into the Alaska Range, it’s a scenic place to wait out the heat.
“Beautiful here,” said rookie Hunter Keefe. “This is a part of the trail I was excited to see.”
By the time teams arrived in Rainy Pass, they had already navigated some early challenges, including the Happy River Steps, but faced the trickier trail ahead through Dalzell Gorge.
Here’s what the checkpoint looked like Monday. (And for more from the mushers, read
our story on how they coped with the warm-for-winter temperatures.)
Eddie Burke Jr. snacks on Kuskokwim River dried salmon. Jessie Holmes received the salmon from the Alexie family in Bethel and passed some on to Burke. Burke said he also enjoys sweets. “I just ate a couple packages of Oreos and some Reese’s,” he said. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Christian Turner approaches the Rainy Pass checkpoint. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Jennifer LaBar injured her left ring finger on the Happy River Steps coming into Rainy Pass, and it was still bent at the checkpoint. “It didn’t hurt initially and I didn’t want to take off my glove ’cause I didn’t want to see what it looked like, but I could feel in my glove that it was not normal,” she said. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Jennifer Labar lays out straw for her dogs to sleep on. Labar dislocated her ring finger on a sharp turn coming into Rainy Pass and had to do dog chores with just one hand. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
TV crews film Wade Marrs’ team arriving in Rainy Pass. “It feels like it’s 100 degrees,” said Marrs. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Riley Dyche’s dogs’ Secretariat, named after the Triple Crown-winning thoroughbred, and Kesugi take a rest at the Rainy Pass checkpoint. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media.
Matt Hall’s team departs Rainy Pass. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Hunter Keefe lies with one of his dogs after arriving at the Rainy Pass checkpoint. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Dogs roll in the snow in temperatures around 40 degrees. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Ryan Redington tosses a Gatorade to Hunter Keefe. The two were the first to arrive in Rainy Pass. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Ryan Redington brings a dog that escaped its harness back to his team. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Ryan Redington’s team veers off course as he leaves Rainy Pass checkpoint. Like last year, Redington was the first musher into Rainy Pass, arriving within about five minutes of his time last year. He said his early arrival was due to his run-rest schedule. “I don’t think by any means I’m winning the race at all, but it feels good to be here,” he said. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Brent Sass high fives fans as he leaves the Rainy Pass. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Brent Sass approaches the Rainy Pass checkpoint. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Dan Kaduce draws water from a hole cut into Puntilla Lake for mushers to use. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Fans of Dan Kaduce cheer him on at Rainy Pass Lodge. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A veterinarian checks dogs at Rainy Pass. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Mille Porsild leaves Rainy Pass. She said she had to watch her dogs closely as they ran through the checkpoint to make sure they didn’t try to stop. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Keep our Iditarod coverage thriving! Your support today helps fund journalism at Alaska Public Media. Click here to donate. For more Iditarod coverage visit alaskapublic.org/Iditarod and click here to subscribe to our free Iditarod newsletter, sent daily during the race. For episodes of our Iditapod podcast visit alaskapublic.org/Iditapod.
Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at email@example.com.