Brent Sass was the first musher to make it to Eagle, pulling in at 3:10 pm Thursday with 13 dogs and a 30 mile lead over Allen Moore.
In great spirits, Sass mentioned that he had another encounter with a moose. In broad daylight, the moose reared and nearly stomped on one of the lead dogs. Luckily, Sass said, the dogs spread out.
He said the moose then galloped by two feet from the team. "I looked him right in the eye and he just went right on by."
Sass had a similar story last year on the Yukon Quest trail. After enjoying a bowl of homemade moose stew at the Eagle checkpoint, he headed off to Circle at 9:10 pm, with 12 dogs in front.
Moore pulled into Eagle at 10:55 pm, with all 14 dogs on the line, looking great. He said the America Summit was "wonderful". Compared it to 2011, he said, when the winds were high, this time around was a much better experience.
Moore and Sass were the only two to make it into Eagle Thursday, with Hugh Neff about 38 miles behind. Joar Leifseth Ulsom was closing distance on Neff, only about five miles back as of midnight.
Ed Hopkins and Cody Strathe were on the trail from Forty Mile to Eagle, while Normand Casavant was just a few miles out of the hospitality stop.
Damon Tedford, Torsten Kohnert, Mike Ellis and Brian Wilmshurst were all on their way to Forty Mile from Dawson.
Ray Redington Jr., who arrived in Dawson in fifth place, decided to scratch from the race.
Dawson Greets Seven More
Jason Campeau and Dave Dalton both made it into Dawson City early Thursday morning. They rolled in just eight minutes apart, Campeau in front at 2:55 am. Campeau said the hills were hard on the way in, but he kept the dogs to four or five miles per hour.
Lance Mackey was the 15th musher to arrive at the halfway point, hitting the chute at 4:18 am. After parking his team he asked if there's any coffee inside, and when told yes he walked inside, grabbed a cup and headed back to his sled. While Mackey admits to slowing down quite a bit the last run, Lance said his dogs, "Are just babies. They're doing amazing."
Rookie Ryne Olson arrived four and a half hours later. Nicolas Vanier, Kristin Knight Pace and Rob Cooke also rolled into Dawson Thursday.
Knight Pace was all smiles as her team of 14 dogs glided into the chute. She said she almost started crying when she came around the corner just before the checkpoint. "It was so overwhelming to see you all here."
"I can't believe I've done 500 miles of the Yukon Quest with all 14 dogs. That's like a serious dream."
Rob Cooke was a bit more subdued when he checked in. While his team of Siberians were wagging their tails, Cooke said the last stretch of trail had been tough and he'd made a couple of mistakes that set his team back.
"The last couple of days have been like a nightmare, so I'm just glad it's over now and we can regroup."
Cooke said he and the team are glad to have a 24-hour rest ahead of them.
"I'm always happy to be in Dawson!"
The final musher to arrive in Dawson will be Magnus Feren Kaltenborn, who was still 35 miles outside of the checkpoint.