Iditarod Trailblazer offers firsthand account of conditions

Eric C. Adams
Yvonne Dabakk of Oslo, Norway, descends Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Siberian huskies Fritz, left, and Ruby lead the rookie team of Lisbet Norris across a bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Scott Janssen keeps control of his sled rounding the corner near Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42. It was warm and sunny for mushers, dogs and spectators on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Allen Moore of Two Rivers, AK crosses over Northern Lights Boulevard during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42 on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof, AK takes a couple of hotdogs as he approaches the Tudor Road bridge. The ceremonial start for Iditarod 42 was warm and sunny on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Karen Hendrickson, of Wasilla, AK reaches out for a hotdog during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42.It was warm and sunny on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Jim Lanier passes through the party near the Native hospital during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42. It was a warm and sunny day Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News The second sled with JoarLeifseth Ulsom, of Norway, cruises by festive pink flamingos on the trail just east of University Lake. The ceremonial start for Iditarod 42 was warm and sunny on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Ramey Smith of Willow, AK approaches the muffin checkpoint near Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42. The day was warm and sunny Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Karen Ramstead drives her team past the muffin checkpoint and under the many flags. The ceremonial start for Iditarod 42 was warm and sunny on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Anne Raup
Anne Raup / Anchorage Daily News Stuffed dogs sit in a chair alongside the trail during the ceremonial start for Iditarod 42.The day was warm and sunny Saturday, March 1, 2014 for humans and dogs alike.
Anne Raup
The dogs of Peter Kaiser of Bethel cross a bridge on the Chester Creek Trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Richie Diehl of Aniak descends Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Rookie Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm, Minnesota, greets fans after descending Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Fans greet four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake on the Chester Creek Trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Cindy Gallea of Wykoff, Minnesota, is greeted along the Chester Creek Trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
John Dixon of Fairbanks is chased along the Chester Creek trail by Cindy Abbott of Irvine, Ca., during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway waves to fans along the Chester Creek trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Travis Beals of Seward cheers for a trailside videographer along Chester Creek during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The dogs of Marcelle Fressineau of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, trot down the Chester Creek trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
A dog in the team of Anna Berington of Kasilof is sprayed by slush kicked up by another dog during warm temperatures along Chester Creek during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Two-time and defending Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey, right, and his wife Janine prepare to leave 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Idita-Rider John Radtke is in the sled.
Bill Roth
Volunteer Russ Wilmot directs a dog team towards the starting line during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod veteran Jessie Royer of Darby, MT, tends to one of her dogs as mushers prepared to leave 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Jason Mackey of Wasilla eats a hot dog while crossing a bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod rookie Charlie Bejna drives his team towards the starting line for the first time during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Sled dogs in the team of Iditarod veteran John Dixon near the bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey interacts with fans gather at Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod veteran Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica, has his picture taken with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Aliy Zirkle who finished second in the past two Iditarod's jogs up to the starting line for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod veteran Kelly Maixner of Big Lake holds his 8-month-old son Vendelin during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Veteran musher Hugh Neff of Tok, Alaska, gets his gangline ready prior to the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Christian Turner of Australia prepares to leave 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Christian Turner of Australia drives his dog team down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Two-time Iditarod champion Robert Sorlie of Norway hits the trail during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
2013 Iditarod Rookie of the Year Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway prepares to cross Tudor Road during the Ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod rookie Tommy Jordbrudal of Norway prepares to leave 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Veteran DeeDee Jonrowe prepares to leave 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Veteran Iditarod musher Hugh Neff at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod veteran DeeDee Jonrowe at Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Iditarod veteran Scott Janssen crosses Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Jeff King greets visiting fan Amanda White of Dexter, Maine during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Musher Gus Guenther of Clam Gulch responds to fans as he crosses East 15th Avenue at the top of Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
An old freight sled is pulled down the trail prior to the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Gus Guenther of Clam Gulch heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Lev Shvarts of Willow emerges from the Chester Creek Trail tunnel beneath the Seward Highway during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof emerges from the Chester Creek Trail tunnel beneath the Seward Highway during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Jake Berkowitz of Big Lake cruises the Chester Creek Trail tunnel beneath the Seward Highway during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Danny Seavey of Seward negotiates a turn at Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Katherine Keith of Kotzebue makes the turn at Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Crowds watch mushers on 4th Avenue. Sixty-nine mushers and their dog teams celebrated the start of the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by greeting fans and taking a ceremonial ride across Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Marc Lester
The dog team of Dan Kaduce of Chatanika heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Two-time champion Mitch Seavey of Seward heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Michael Williams, Jr. descends the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The dogs of musher Yvonne Dabakk of Oslo, Norway peek over the lip of the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica acknowledges fans while descending the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Fans greet Jamaican musher Newton Marshall at the bottom of the Cordova Street hill near East 16th Avenue during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers greets fans at the top of Cordova Street Hill at East 15th Avenue during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
DeeDee Jonrowe drives her team down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Four-time winner Jeff King greets fans as he descends Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Scott Janssen of Anchorage, top, catches up to Allen Moore of Two Rivers on the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Chris and Sabra Sturgis of Palmer prepare a sign for sons Samuel 9, and Sawyer, 5, as they watch the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, next to Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Rookie musher Christian Turner of Karratha, Western Australia, greets fans near Mulcahy Stadium during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Two-time champion Robert Sorlie of Hurdal, Norway greets fans near Mulcahy Stadium during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Matt Failor of Willow crosses the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Hugh Neff of Tok crosses the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The brightly-shod dogs of Alex Buetow of Fairbanks cross the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The dogs of Canadian musher Karen Ramstead are decked out in appropriate colors as they cross the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage. Ramstead hails from Perryvale, Alberta.
Erik Hill
The lead dogs of Ken Anderson of Fairbanks round a corner at Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The dogs of Mike Ellis of Two Rivers trot the trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Wade Marrs of Wasilla winds up with a handful of snow while greeting fans at Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Tongues lolling, the dogs of Abbie West of Two Rivers belie the effects of warm weather during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Abbie West of Two Rivers leans over to greet fans at Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The dogs of Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers enter the stretch of trail along Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Fans greet the end of the show as final musher Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers passes through Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
The ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen

Will the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race be adversely impacted by recent warm weather across much of Alaska?

Iditarod Trail integrity has lingered as a concern for veterans of Alaska’s 1,000-mile sled dog race to Nome as well as the hundreds of organizers, volunteers and veterinarians who help pull off the annual event. Mushing fans from Barrow to Auckland, New Zealand ( this year’s Iditarod includes a Kiwi) have been following updates from the Iditarod race committee, which decided in February that the race could be run safely from Willow despite thin snowpack, open water on the trail and treacherous conditions along the trail’s first 65 miles into the Alaska Range.

On Feb. 17, race marshal Mark Nordman said the Iditarod Trail between Willow Lake and the Farewell Burn, northwest of Rohn, wasn’t safe for canine or human athletes. On March 1, Dave Cruz with Cruz Construction out of Wasilla told me he didn’t see any reason for anyone to worry about adverse trail conditions impacting mushers.

“Even the Dalzell Gorge and along the Dalzell Creek, on into the (Kuskokwim) River … the most treacherous portions of the trail -- over and down the Happy steps -- the Iditarod Trail surface is smooth and there’s absolutely nothing to concern folks about for the dogs’ safety,” Cruz said in a telephone call from the Mat-Su, just after dinner on Saturday night.  

“There’s no adverse conditions,” other than what’s already etched into the Alaskan wilderness, to be endanger dog teams, Cruz added.  

Nordman relied on Dave Cruz and his construction company to make sure the Iditarod Trail was ridable for 69 of the world’s top sled dog racers and as many as 1,104 dogs that will be pulling them toward the Alaska Range and onto the northern race route toward Nome. Dave Cruz also works each winter with the Willow Community Trails Committee, a group that works to provide 4,000 miles of groomed snowmachine trails across the Mat-Su Borough.  

Cruz Construction has prepared Willow Lake for the Iditarod restart for years. His company specializes in building ice roads and also blazes trail for oil and gas wildcatters in the western Susitna River drainage wilderness.  

“You could say we participate very heavily in the Iditarod,” Dave said. “Our job is to plough (Willow Lake), get it ready prepped and capable of holding everything it takes to get the restart underway. The lake’s got to hold hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people,” and Cruz Construction also maintains the 16-acre parking lot across the Parks Highway, where Iditarod restart spectators park.    

“Naturally, we’d all love it to be 25 degrees or colder out there for the restart,” Cruz conceded. But fluctuating temperatures and other uncontrollable variables are what separate Iditarod race champions from the also-rans -- and it remains to be seen how the trail holds up over the first 42 miles from the start chute to Yentna Station.  

The first checkpoints have in years past marked the end of the race for back-of-pack teams worn down by snow that’s unable to set hard as the parade of dogs, mushers, race volunteers and snowmachining spectators pushes unrelenting into the wild white.

Contact Eric Adams at 257-4373 or by email at eadams@adn.com

Complete Iditarod coverage
Eric C. Adams
Anchorage Daily News / adn.com