Photos: Rest and recovery in Shageluk

two dogs sleep
Hunter Keefe’s dog team rest on straw beds in Shageluk, at race mil 487. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

SHAGELUK — Iditarod rookie Hunter Keefe described the hard and fast trail into the checkpoint here as a bobsled track.

“You would try to drive your sled to dodge the trees, but the sled wouldn’t drive, so I was hitting trees with my sled, hitting trees with myself,” he said.

Dan Kaduce said it was like being in a pinball machine.

Keefe and Kaduce were among the mushers who decided to take a rest in Shageluk Friday after the rough trail. The community of about 140 people is roughly halfway into the race.

Here’s what the checkpoint looked like late Friday morning. (For more from the mushers, read our story on crashed sleds and icy trail.)

a musher behind a sled
KattiJo Deeter drags her supplies into Shageluk. Mushers send bags of gear to checkpoints ahead of time. The bags are called their “drop bags.” (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
an aerial view of a community
Shageluk sits on the banks of the Innoko River. Teams enter on the main road that leads to the river. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a person gives snacks to dogs
Rookie Hunter Keefe feeds his team. He needed a breather when he got to town. He said cold temperatures overnight froze the trail. “It was extremely narrow and winding and going up and down very steep pitches,” he said. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a dog team in the cold
Riley Dyche arrives into Shageluk at 10:38 a.m. with his 12-dog team. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a woman with a headlamp
KattiJo Deeter looks over her team. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a dog gets pets from a musher
Rookie Eddie Burke Jr. greets his team. Burke is among the contenders for the Rookie of the Year Award, given to the first-time Iditarod racer who places highest. He is running dogs from veteran musher Aaron Burmeister. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a dog team i
Riley Dyche’s team. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
dogs get snacks outside
Hunter Keefe feeds his team in Shageluk. Keefe is also in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award. He is driving dogs for Raymie Redington — the son of Iditarod founder Joe Redington Sr. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a dog eats food
Hunter Keefe feeds his team. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a person stirs food
Dan Kaduce warms up a meal for his team in a cooler. Kaduce placed fourth last year, but said this year he’s just trying to get to Nome. “I am just hoping to make it. I don’t have any delusions of racing hard,” said Kaduce. “I just want to see some tails wagging the rest of the way.“ (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a person puts booties on a dog
Eddie Burke Jr. prepares his team to leave. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)
a musher
Eddie Burke Jr. leaves Shageluk at 10:51 a.m. after completing his mandatory eight-hour rest. Teams must stop for eight hours at a checkpoint on the Yukon River or in Shageluk. (Ben Matheson/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 and click here to subscribe to our free Iditarod newsletter, sent daily during the race. For episodes of our Iditapod podcast visit

Ben Matheson is covering the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

Previous articleAlaska News Nightly: Friday, March 10, 2023
Next articleOn Yukon River, Iditarod teams recuperate from early bruises and strategize big moves