The winter weather has finally relented here and we had a beautiful spring day. That, of course, meant that we were out hiking. Since many of the roads to the higher elevation trails are still not open, we decided to go walking on the still closed Blue Ridge Parkway.
There was a great article on opening the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Asheville Citizen-Times. The park service always has to work hard to open the road for the start of the summer tourism season, but after this rough winter season, their challenges are very strong. As we walked, we did find some evidence of the challenges.
Congratulations to Celeste Davis, of Deer Lodge Montana, for winning the Red Lantern in the Iditarod as the 55th and final team across the finish line. She completed the race in 13 Days 5 Hours 6 Minutes 40 Seconds, which is the fastest Red Lantern run in the history of the race.
The last racer across the finish line also extinguishes the Widow’s Lamp (not to be confused with the Red Lantern – they are different). The history is that a village would hang out a kerosene lantern when a dog sled freight team was expected. That would serve both as a beacon to the team as well as a signal that a dog team was out on the trail. The widow’s lamp is lit in Nome on the first Sunday of the race and is only extinguished when the last racer crosses the finish line.
A special salute to Wattie McDonald of Stonehaven, Scotland, who completed the race with all 16 of his starting dogs in harness. This is a very rare event since most mushers drop dogs (who are flown out of the race and cared for until the musher completes the race).
We also salute the 16 teams who started, but did not complete the race.
And, very importantly, hats off to the 40 volunteer veterinarians who monitored the 1136 dogs who ran in the race to ensure that all of the dogs are safe and returning home. If you want a fascinating read on the metabolism of sled dogs, we recommend this article from the New York Times.
Tonight is the annual musher’s banquet. We congratulate everyone on a safe, exciting race this year.