Photos: After mud and moguls, Iditarod teams recover in Nikolai

A woman lies in straw behind a dog sled and in front of a team of dogs
Mille Porsild lies in the straw next to her dog team on a sunny and warm Tuesday in Nikolai. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

NIKOLAI — With the Alaska Range behind them, and some relatively straightforward trail in front of them, mushers rested and assessed the damage to their sleds, their dogs and their own bodies in Nikolai throughout the day Tuesday. 

Rookie Hunter Keefe was energetic after what he described as an “epic” and “perfect” 75-mile run from Rohn, which he broke in half by camping out on trail. 

“There was some bare ground, some glaciated sections, a lot hillier than I expected and kinda mogul-ey, but a nice hard trail the whole way in,” he said. 

Other mushers looked a little more beat up when they arrived, several carrying injured dogs in their sleds. 

The sunny weather and warmer temperatures made dog chores and sled repair easy though, and mushers took advantage of the day before setting off toward McGrath, the checkpoint 311 miles into the 1,000-mile race. 

Here are some of our favorite photos from Tuesday in Nikolai. (And, for more from the mushers, check out our story: How bad are the Iditarod trail moguls? Depends who you ask.)

A man with a fur hat sits on a sled
Nic Petit munches on slices of bacon during his 24-hour rest in Nikolai. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A dog driver breaks his sled
Brent Sass arrives in Nikolai around 8:30 a.m. Sass was the first to depart, but said he had a challenging run from Rohn. He had to carry his dog Marty for 60 miles. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A musher booties dogs lying on straw
Nic Petit works in the dog yard shortly after arriving at the checkpoint. Petit was the first to Nikolai but opted to take his mandatory 24-hour rest there. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
a bungee cord attached to the front of a sled
Riley Dyche’s line from his sled to his dog team was outfitted with a bungee cord attachment. He said it helps absorb some of the shock during the long run over moguls from the prior checkpoint of Rohn. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A woman sits in a dog sled
Mille Porsild sets an alarm clock before taking a snooze in Nikolai. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A musher drives a dog team up a short bank
Ryan Redington approaches Nikolai from the Kuskokwim River shortly before 8 a.m. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A person lies on a camping mat next to a dog sled
Eddie Burke Jr. snoozes under his jacket. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A musher sits on a sled munching bacon from a ziploc bag
Nic Petit munches on slices of bacon during his 24-hour rest. He said the daylong break in Nikolai is messing with the dogs’ heads, but in a “positive way.” “They’re thinking, ‘this is a nice siesta in the sun,'” he said. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A dog team runs down a trail next to a powerline
Richie Diehl leaves Nikolai around 12:30 p.m. after a four-hour rest. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A person holds a bag and a notecard
Ryan Redington pulls out trail snacks donated by a school group in Baltimore. It includes mostly candy and some packaged slices of cake as well as handwritten notes. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A dog team runs up a frozen riverbank
Dan Kaduce approaches Nikolai. Kaduce arrived with two dogs in his sled, which he left with veterinarians. He said the run from Rohn was one of the hardest he’d had in a decade. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A woman holds a clipboard sitting on a bale of hay
Marty Runkle of Nikolai has been helping with the Iditarod checkpoint since the late 1970s. This year was the first she is doing it alone after her partner died in an accident in the fall. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Two bags on the snow
One of Ryan Redington’s favorite trail snacks: sesame chicken and fried rice from the Carrs grocery store. Mushers heat meals by placing vacuum-sealed bags in hot water. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A person applies a yellow container to the runners of an upturned dog sled
Richie Diehl applies HEET to his sled runners to de-ice them after his run from Rohn. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
AA dog lying on a bed of straw eats a slab of bacon in the Nikolai dog yard.
A dog eats a slab of bacon. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A person in a green down jacket signs a notebook for a girl in a purple jacket
Kelly Maixner signs autographs for local school children, who came down to the dog yard for a field trip. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A person turns the nozzle on a spigot coming from a barrel.
Richie Diehl pours hot water into his cooler. Nikolai residents designed the wood-powered stove to save mushers the trouble of heating their own water. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Two people hold onto the collar of a dog, which has a yellow bag with the number 42 written in sharpie
Veterinarians affix tracking devices onto the collars of dogs that mushers send home from checkpoints. It’s part of a pilot program this year after a dropped dog was lost for months last year. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
A musher in a red jacket pushes off his sled.
Jessie Holmes pulls up his snow hook and departs Nikolai. Holmes said he hurt his knee after tumbling off his sled in the Farewell Burn area. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)
Nic Petit eats a bacon burrito at the Nikolai school cafeteria. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

Previous articleMach 10, mastering the art of slowing down
Next articleTalk of Alaska: The Future of Mushing