No matter what Mother Nature has in store, mushers in the 2016 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race can be confident the legendary race trail is in good hands.
The Yukon Quest will once again partner with the Canadian Rangers for trail support from Whitehorse to the Canada-US Border north of Dawson City. Rangers from the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1 CRPG), led by Ranger Sergeant John Mitchell of Dawson City patrol, break into teams to cover different legs of the trail. They begin trail breaking in mid-January.
“The Canadian Rangers play an integral role in making sure the trail is safe for all participants and that the race is able to continue,” said Natalie Haltrich, Yukon Quest Executive Director – Yukon. “Not only are they responsible for breaking trail prior to the start of the race, but they also monitor changing conditions during the race to make sure the mushers and officials are prepared, and are sometimes called upon to assist the race team in emergency situations. They volunteer hundreds of hours of their time each year, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
For the Rangers, the Yukon Quest provides a training opportunity while allowing them to show their support for a local organization.
“The Canadian Rangers have a long-standing relationship with the Yukon Quest. Rangers working on the trail take their job seriously, keep safety in mind and have their operations down to a science,” said Major Craig Volstad, Commanding Officer, 1 CRPG, “This year we will have about 125 Canadian Rangers from 12 Ranger patrols in the Yukon working diligently to ensure the trail ready.”
The Rangers use a three-phase process to establish the trail. This includes the initial trail breaking, clearing brush from the path and packing snow down with snowmobiles.
The second phase re-establishes the trail and removes any debris that may be obscuring it, while the third phase is done just hours before the mushers hit the Yukon side of the border – a final check to make sure the trail is in top form.
The 33rd Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race starts February 6, 2016 in Fairbanks.