Saturday, February 05, 2011

Yukon International Sled Dog Race...and humans too!

A lot of focus has been put on the Iditarod over the years, a trail originally from Seward to Nome that acted as a passage route for cargo arriving in Alaska by boat. Also a dog sled race in memory of a “race to save a town”.

Now I will take you up the land trail that brought early prospectors, fur traders, mail, and eventually land and gold seekers from the lower US. First though I must give credit to the founders of this race, Roger Williams, Leroy Shank, Ron Rosser and Willie Libb for NOT letting the early pioneers that made the adventure north on foot, dog sled, and wagons become lost in history shadowed by their sea faring counter parts.

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is a race from White Horse, Canada, to Fairbanks, Alaska on the odd years…and the opposite direction on the even years with 16 check points including the starting line and the finish line. Following the trail taken over land, rivers lakes and mountains, by many early fur traders, Alaskan prospectors, as well as the trail used during the Klondike Gold Rush.

White Horse, Canada….( “Whitehorse” until 1957) Some believe this town was named after the water falls that resembled the white mane of a running horse…others believe this area was named after a Native Chief that lost his life crossing the falls. These historically debuted falls no longer exist today as they are converted into a damn to provide the Capital of the Yukon with electricity and water.

Located at the head of the Yukon River, White Horse began its life as a tent city that terminated a route from Skagway Alaska, over land to the Yukon Territory. Soon after, the railway was punched in and goods and prospectors were arriving from sea to Skagway ,moving by train instead of foot to White Horse, then shipped up the Yukon River by boat, foot, or dog sled on their treks for furs, gold and land prospecting.

White Horse is now the home of three quarters of the territories population and is the largest city in the Three Canadian Territories.

Today 23 dog teams with their “humans” on the sled left White Horse in attempts to be the first to transverse the Yukon into Alaska. They will travel up the Yukon River to Braeburn, Canada, roughly one hundred miles of running through the dark cold night across frozen rivers, ….mush on!