Alaska News

Iditablog: Colder than cold in Koyukuk

KOYUKUK -- Ask the mushers pulling into the Koyukuk checkpoint how the 82 miles between here and Huslia were and they'll give you one answer: cold.

"I'm freezing," said Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom.

While thermometers read minus 10, it seemed twice as cold in the Koyukuk dog lot nestled on the banks of the Yukon River. Cold temperatures appear to be a constant in this year's race, though mushers coming into the checkpoint seemed to agree that Saturday had been the worst of it.

Ulsom said the Yukon Quest, which had temperatures dip to minus 50, felt like "nothing" compared to the run he had coming in to Koyukuk.

"This felt 10 times colder," he said.

Asked if he had changed anything about his race due to weather, he admitted there had been one thing: "my long underwear."

Fellow Norwegian Thomas Waerner pulled in shortly after Ulsom. He wore a thick black face mask that was covered in frost as he pulled booties and furry covers that protect male dogs from frostbite.

"That's the coldest I've ever been on a dog team," he said.

"You can barely work on the sled," he said of running along with his dog team. "You'll get too wet. You have to take it easy."

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.