From Gerry on the trail:
The 43-mile run outside of Pinedale is one of the nicest route I’ve seen. Temperatures of -25 degrees Celsius let the trail set up beautifully — maybe a bit too beautiful. Hard and fast, it was prime territory for the teams that are obviously faster than mine. For the first time I ran with only 10 dogs as the trail did not require more. We were a bit gutless up the big hill between mile 10 and 15 (roughly) but cruised along nicely otherwise. Highlander and Loonie in lead set the pace and really amped it up on the last six miles to the finish. We finished this stage in eighth place, 3 minutes and 28 seconds behind 5th, and are happy with that. I wonder, though, where we could have made up 3,5 minutes. A multitude of factors come mind: nutrition, better runners, get up that big hill faster, lighter sled, lighter musher, faster line of dogs, etc. The opportunities to improve are endless. That’s mushing.
Overall we improved from 7th to 6th position. The top five teams seem to really capitalize on the hard fast trails; I assume we’ll get more of that in the next few days, so there is a gap opening between 5th and 6th place. Behind 7th there’s another gap that got a bit smaller today but is still significant. For now I am duelling with Jeff Conn, but with three more runs the options are still wide open.
Finishing 8th today means finishing 11 minutes behind second and 17 minutes behind first place. A pretty tight field.
We are now in Big Piney and will run tomorrow’s stage here.