Day 5: “They Climb the Mountain’s Crest”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Dawson checkpoint was a busy port of call today as nine mushers completed the arduous trek up and over the King Solomon Dome to reach the halfway point of the Yukon Quest, where 36 hours of rest for musher and team alike awaits them.

Rob Cooke was the first to depart the crowded Scroggie Creek Dog Drop at 01:30, followed an hour later by Dave Dalton. By 08:30 they both reached Yuka Honda’s campsite and joined her for a pre-Dome rest. Cooke bedded down for four hours, Dalton for six. Gaetan Pierrard also opted to rest with the group for a few hours when he arrived at 11AM. Ben Good, who left Scroggie with Sébastien Dos Santos Borges at 06:30, would complete the mush hour reunion at the King Solomon base, slumbering at the foot of the giant for six hours.

Jessie Royer had a monster of a run today, jumping five places from 17th to 12th. She decamped from Scroggie Creek at 06:00 and made it to the base of the Dome a full two hours quicker than Dalton and Cooke. She rested part way up the King for five hours before making the dash to Dawson.

Yuka Honda, meanwhile, appears to be struggling. She was stopped for a total of 15 hours, and only carried on in the company of another musher: first with Pierrard, then over the Dome with Ben Good.

Current Red Lantern candidate Hank DeBruin left Stepping Stone shortly after 01:00 after 6 hours rest, arriving at Scroggie Creek at 17:00, where he remains camped.

Impressive newcomer Katherine Keith was the first musher to reach Dawson today. Her arrival coming at such an early hour (03:44), Keith apologized to the crowd that greeted her for making them stay up so late.

Paige Drobny was met at the checkpoint by husband and Quest veteran Cody Strathe when she crossed the line at 05:25. Drobny remarked how beautiful and clear a night it had been on top of the Dome, and how great a trail it has been this year.

Torsten Kohnert, who resumed his Dome climb at around 01:30 after a three-hour break, became the third musher of the day in to Dawson, arriving just before 09:00, but upon his sled check it was discovered he was without his axe, a mandatory item required when checking into Dawson City. Fortunately for Kohnert the local hardware store had just opened, so he popped over and purchased a new one. He was fined according to Trail Procedure Rule #2 which states that “Mandatory gear may be replaced with the Race Marshal or Race Judge’s approval. A fine of $500 will be assessed for each item,” but was able to complete his check-in (09:03) without losing much time.

Brian Wilmshurst was welcomed home to Dawson by a large crowd at 17:01. Smiling and happy he said he's looking forward to a beer, a steak, SportsNet, and a shower. He talked about how great the trail is and praised the Canadian Rangers for their hard work. Wilmshurst even joked(?) about making the roster for his local team’s rec hockey game at 19:45.

Rob Cooke and Jessie Royer were in 20 minutes apart at 21:30 and 21:52, respectively, Cooke successfully delivering his departed friend’s remains to their final resting place in perhaps the most Northern way possible.
A stalwart Dave Dalton made it across the line at 22:35 with 12 dogs, followed by Gaetan Pierrard at 00:18 with a team of 11.

Standings as of 11:59PM:

1. Brent Sass
2. Hugh Neff
3. Matt Hall
4. Allen Moore
5. Ed Hopkins
6. Katherine Keith
7. Paige Drobny
8. Torsten Kohnert
9. Ryne Olson
10. Brian Wilmshurst
11. Rob Cooke
12. Jessie Royer
13. Dave Dalton
14. Yuka Honda
15. Gaetan Pierrard
16. Ben Good
17. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges
18. Hank DeBruin