Ophir to Kaltag

We took our 24 hour break in the peaceful checkpoint of Ophir. 

The dogs snoozed comfortably in the absence of hustle & bustle. Bitey, Goofy, Vader & Raspy.
Mini Lu, Buffy & Hilary.

Orro, Barkly, Vinnie & Vader relax in the shadow of the checkpoint's supply of Heet. 

Barkley, Orro, Vinnie, & Vader.

Sister ruffs. I complemented checkpoint visitor Mrs. Klaus of Ultima Thule Tours on her beautiful ruff. When I heard she had purchased it last year in Huslia, I realized I liked it so much because it looked exactly like MY beloved ruff that I purchased in Huslia last year !  We lined them up & it was clear they came from the same wolf & wolverine :) 

Thank you to the family who owns the Ophir cabin for opening up the property to shelter ITC volunteers, vets, mushers & dogs. Ophir is the last hospitality stop before the trail forays across a hundred and fifty miles or so of cold, wild Innoko River country until mushers reach the Yukon River community of Ruby. These days, the remote ITC checkpoint of Cripple between Ophir and Ruby provides a pretty comfortable respite from the bitter cold of the Interior, but Ophir is still very much appreciated for its quiet and hospitality.
I took this picture for my friend Anja Radano -- it's of Ryan Redington leaving Ophir with the dog he borrowed from Anja, Eggs, in lead :)
Cold and frosty in the Innoko River Valley outside of Ophir.
Nice trail and gorgeous country out of Ophir. 
Beautiful boreal landscape.
Camping 40 miles or so outside of Ophir. Princess, Hilary, Jasmine (sitting) & Fly behind, with her head sticking out of the straw. Jasmine is not tired, probably because she was not working very hard....haha.
Vinnie, Mini Lu, Orro, & Vader snuggling together.

More snuggles. 

Mini Lu & Ripp in lead ; on our way to Cripple after camp. We broke up the run to Ruby, tackling it in four roughly equal sections. I wanted to ease the dogs back into the swing of things after their long rest.

Meager amounts of snow on the trail leaving Cripple.  Made for some interesting experiences when crossing the myriad of ravines and creek beds separating us from Ruby. 
Back in the tussocks.
Big sky country. Sorry, Montana.
We traversed lots of area burnt up by forest fire.  
There is a beauty to the monotony. I listened to a lot of Ane Brun on this section.
Snack break. 
Flat light, endless, somewhat repetitive, vistas.

Golden hour. On route to our last camp before Ruby.

Early morning on the road to Ruby.

Trying to capture the glittering hoarfrost quickly melting in the sun. 

The dogs snuggling up to nap even before I get their booties off. 

Time to wake up and head to Ruby :)

Bluebird skies in ptarmigan country. 

I gave the dogs a lot of breaks on this gorgeous spring day. 
Mini Lou & Raspy.
Fly & Princess.

Goofy & Hilary

Sunset over the Yukon River; Ruby, AK. 
I love cold frosty mornings on the Yukon River. 
Sunrise on the Yukon River.
We took an alternate route from Galena to Nulato that had us crossing long swamps and following many windy sloughs.  
^^ Windy sloughs.

Approaching the landmark bluff that signals our exit from the sloughs of Koyukuk country back to the main thread of the Yukon River. 

Crossing deep clear ice, many many feet thick. 
River ice reflecting the rosy soft glow of the setting sun.
The team in Nulato. I learned about the snowmachine attacks on Jeff & Aliy in Galena & leaving there, felt a level of discomfort & vulnerability that I have never felt before. I was relieved when darkness fell & I could make out the glint of a headlight behind me on the river. It was unnerving traveling alone. That being said, I have never felt anything but welcome in Nulato -- the community has been incredibly hospitable to my team & I. The kindness (and moose stew) I have encountered there the last 2 races informed my decision to take my 8 hour Yukon River layover in Nulato. Which turned into a 10 hour layover because I overslept. Although offered a wake-up call from checkpoint volunteers, I was so confident in my iPod nano alarm system that I gave them a time I thought I would be leaving the checkpoint. My earbuds fell out & I didn't hear the alarm. Another lesson learned the hard way.  
Raspy, Orro & Mini Lu.
Yukon River Traffic Jam. 
Love river travel. I see the Yukon Quest in my future !  

Sparkles on the snow... sunny day.  ...Not too sleepy. Love it. 
Little ice jumbles.
Approaching Kaltag, grooving to FM Belfast. My first time to Kaltag during daylight hours. I had no idea there were so many gorgeous mountains surrounding the village!