Into the Wild

Iron Dog 2014

One year ago I spent a mostly silent winter at Rainy Pass Lodge, Alaska, a remote hunting lodge in the Alaska Range. The lodge is an official checkpoint on the Iditarod trail. Every year three races come through Rainy Pass: Iron Dog, the longest, toughest snowmobile race; Iditarod, the last great race on Earth, and “Iditabike” the craziest of them all?

Anyway, after many months of silence and solitude, a few snowmobile riders would show up on the weekends, getting gas, having a snack and a cool drink, warming up at our fireplace. They trained for the Irondog, a snowmobile race from Anchorage to Nome and back to Fairbanks.

The rattled across Puntilla Lake at neck-breaking speeds only to disappear in the willow thickets, returning a few hours later, telling stories about moose, open rivers, and whiteouts. We, the caretakers never ventured that far from the lodge. These guys covered 24o miles a day and more, on their training sleds.

Then, one weekend, at night the refueling station was setup on the ice, volunteers had shown up, trail crews had come by and we were all waiting for the first race team to show up. I let the following pictures do the talking:

IronDog3 IronDog4 IronDog5 IronDog7 IronDog8IronDog6 IronDog9

And then,
when all was settled and done,
it was silent again…

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