Over the weekend, the Iditarod race across Alaska has reached one of its most incredible stages, with the leadership of the race changing hands constantly as a tight pack of mushers battle for the lead. (I love a close finish!)
A close up look at the map shows that these mushers are walking on water.
Out on the featureless sea ice, there are no trees or hills to cut the frigid winds. The snow banks shift endlessly, leaving bare ice and enormous piles of soft powder. You can see how the tan and brown lines show how Joar Ulsom and Jake Berkowitz have left the marked trail and headed straight for the lights of Koyuk, where most of the mushers in the front pack at currently resting (speeds of 0 mph indicate that they are taking a well-earned break).
Even back on shore, the green line of current race leader, Jeff King, shows that, in the 14 hours of darkness current each day, these mushers are not always sticking perfectly to the marked trail. How do they do this? By trusting their dogs. Their dogs are bred for independent thinking and each musher strives to have leaders on their team who are capable of finding a trail under any condition.
Especially when Bolo is choosing to nap with his head in the empty bowl...