From snow hooks to alarm clocks: Here’s what 5 Iditarod mushers say they’ve lost along the trail

A musher drives a sled
Hunter Keefe heads towards Grayling (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Mushers in the Iditarod have a lot to keep track of. Aside from food and booties for their dogs, there are things like headlamps, snow hooks, ski poles and electronics.

Inevitably, things get lost along the trail. 

We asked five mushers about what items they’d left behind. Here are their answers. 

Ryan Redington

A person passes a plastic cupcake to a musher in a baseball hat
A Grayling resident hands a Reese’s peanut butter cupcake to Ryan Redington before he departs. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

“Two things. My headlight, it was bad from the beginning, and my alarm clock went bad. Luckily I gave one to another musher and I told that musher and he gave it back to me, it was Hunter Keefe. I beat my alarm clock every time except for today (Friday in Grayling). It woke me up today, so I was glad to have it back.”

Jessie Holmes

A musher in front of some sleeping dogs
Jessie Holmes in Unalakleet.(Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

“I lost my inReach, but I picked up Dallas’s so hopefully I’ll have some good karma from that and someone’s gonna pick up mine. I was messing around with it, and I put it in my pocket and next thing I know it’s not in my pocket from Tripod Flats over to here [in Unalakleet]. It was kinda like I was flying along and bumping and bouncing around so good that it was kinda hard to hang on. I was like, ‘Man, I need to put this thing away!’ And I put it in my pocket a little too quick and not good enough. That’s the only thing so far.”

Eddie Burke Jr.

A man with curly hair and a head lamp
Eddie Burke Jr. with a headlamp that he left in a cabin earlier on the trail. It was returned by musher Matt Hall. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

“I did leave my headlamp at Don’s cabin, 40 miles from Iditarod, while I was camping. I went from Takotna to Don’s and camped. I went inside the cabin just for a little bit — I slept outside — but went in the cabin and left my headlamp in there. It was daytime and I was in Iditarod and it was just about to become night time and I was like, ‘Oh man, I left my headlamp back there,” and here comes Matt Hall rolling in and says, ‘Hey, I think you’ll need this!’ So he was kind of a savior on that one. I think my name’s on it, and I was the only one camping when he rolled up.”

Christian Turner in Grayling

A musher rides in front of mountains and trees
Christian Turner approaches Rainy Pass. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

“I did have a ski pole but I lost it, so if someone behind me finds it, it’s my ski pole. They get stuck in the snow when you’re pushing and if you don’t have the lanyard on properly they rip out of your hand and you can’t go back because the dogs are going too fast. I lost it between Shageluk and Grayling. It sucks that I lost it, but I think I have one in a spare sled in Unalakleet so I’ll just kick and run if I have to.”

Hunter Keefe

A snow hook in the snow
A snow hook, which mushers use to anchor their sleds when they are stopped. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

“I’ve been made aware by race officials at the last checkpoint that I left my leader hook. It’s the smaller snow hook — I have my two main snow hooks in the back, but it’s my little snow hook that I have separate that I can tie my leaders to, so now I have to get one of my big ones from the back. I left it in, I believe, in Iditarod. I was getting ready to sign out. I had taken off the leader hook which is good, ’cause starting with your leader hook is another whole can of worms and isn’t great ’cause the team will try to take off and there’s a hook holding them down. But I’d taken off the hook, hooked up the team, gone back to the sled to got ready to go, and they’d popped the hook, and they’d done that on me a couple of times. Usually when they do that I don’t like to stop again. If they want to leave that bad, I just roll with it. So I rolled with it not realizing I hadn’t picked up my leader hook yet.”

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Lex Treinen is covering the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@gmail.com.

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