Richie Diehl was the first 2020 Iditarod musher into the Finger Lake checkpoint, arriving around 7 a.m. on March 9. He is currently resting his team. Behind the Aniak musher are several teams, including Bethel’s Pete Kaiser, who is about 7 miles behind in position four. The front runners are in the heart of snow country, where the snow can be 10 feet deep just off the packed trail.
Up ahead is the climb up to Rainy Pass in the center of the Alaska Range. The rest of the teams are strung out behind, struggling to get to the mountains. Jessica Klejka, another local musher and Bethel’s favorite vet, is about 33 miles behind Diehl in position 35.
The deep snow has slowed down the pace of this year’s Iditarod, but this is just the beginning. There is plenty more trail and snow ahead.