Y-K Delta Mushers Remain On Yukon As Others Head To Coast

Mar 15, 2020

Jessica Klejka arriving at the Galena checkpoint.
Credit Zachariah Hughes

This morning there are 13 teams on the way from the Yukon River to Unalakleet, the first checkpoint the coast. Thomas Warner is breaking trail on the 85-mile overland run.  

The two Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta mushers that have been among the front-runners in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race are still on the river back in Kaltag. The two have not left for different reasons. Bethel’s Pete Kaiser was the first of the two to arrive on March 14 at 6:16 p.m. with his eight-hour required rest in front of him. Over twelve hours later on Sunday, March 15, he is still at the checkpoint.  

Kaiser seems to be repeating the pattern of Aniak's Richie Diehl, who took a longer than required rest yesterday upriver in Nulato. Diehl arrived at the Nulato checkpoint a little after 7 a.m. on March 14, and left almost 12 hours later. Reports are that his dogs simply refused to go and Diehl was considering scratching, but race officials talked him into taking the team to Kaltag. It took him six hours to make the run. Until his team balked, Diehl was having an amazing run among the leaders of the pack of front-runners.

Bethel’s Jessica Klejka reached the Nulato checkpoint at 5:16 a.m. on March 15. She arrived with her required eight-hour rest behind her, and the last 47 river miles ahead. The weather has warmed up into the upper 20s. Gone are those nice, cold conditions that turned the river run hard and fast.

Yesterday, two more teams left the race. Lindwood Fiedler and Martin Massicotte scratched in Galena.