With warm weather plaguing much of Alaska this spring, snow machine riding could be considered dismal….. Unless your a powder hound chasing endless fields of untouched snow high in the mountains of Alaska’s back country….(or follow your untracked trail to a secret winter wonderland around the back of the cabin)… This spring is no different for the writers of Mission AK as we took off on a hunt for fresh untracked snow.
Riding up the Denali highway we stumbled across one of the coolest and newest dog sled races in Alaska. The Denali Dog 140 race was a last minute brainchild that gathered some of Alaska’s best mushers and set them to compete on the Denali Highway for two days covering 140 miles of Alaska’s vast wilderness. The mushers only had three weeks to prepare themselves and their teams to go head to head in this first annual race across Denali’s rugged landscape. The race consisted of veterans such as Lance Mackey ( Four-time winner of the Yukon Quest & four-time winner of the Iditarod.) and new comers making their first dog racing debut such as Timothy Muto. Dog racing in Alaska is a lifestyle that requires endurance, dedication, and selflessness which Mission AK contributors (Kalen Kolberg and Austin Manelick) were lucky enough to experience first hand.
After the mushers got their dogs fed and put to bed we all got to enjoy good conversation and a hot meal at the Alpine Creek Lodge (Race checkpoint and turn around location).
After only a couple hours of much needed cat napping the mushers had to head out and to continue their race towards the finish line.
The next morning we woke up to a hot breakfast and several cups of coffee (much needed after trying to keep up with the mushers all night). After chatting with the locals on spots to check out we geared up in search of high mountains packed with fresh pow lines, inevitable putting our sleds to the test.
What was suppose to be a back country snow machineing trip turned into dog mushing spectacle that we all enjoyed thoroughly, acting as their biggest fans and photographers it was awesome to see these athletes behind the scenes. It’s not to often you run into Iditarod champions and those inspiring to be the best at one of the most difficult(HARDCORE) sports in the entire world and share a cup of hot coffee at 12am midnight at an authentic Alaska lodge. After the teams left we headed high into the mountains to finish our mission and find the goods. A 12 mile ride into a deep north facing drainage provided what we were looking for….endless pow.
Mission complete: 150 miles round trip.
-Team Mission Alaska
Huge shout out and big thanks to Alpine Creek Lodge, check them out for a cool place to base any Alaskan adventure.