Dog tired in the jumble

William Kleedehn fell asleep on his sled. His team was trucking up the Forty Mile River when the Carcross musher drifted off. "I must have been asleep for at least an hour because I woke up and we were going up

EAGLE, AK

William Kleedehn fell asleep on his sled.

His team was trucking up the Forty Mile River when the Carcross musher drifted off.

“I must have been asleep for at least an hour because I woke up and we were going up the friggin’ summit,” he said.

“For Christ’s sake, I couldn’t believe it.”

Kleedehn planned to rest his team before climbing 1,042 metres up American Summit.

But when he realized the dogs were already on their way up, he decided to keep going.

“I stopped immediately to snack the dogs and make sure they were in good shape,” he said.

They were.

A ptarmigan took off in front of the team and “they just loped up the hill,” said Kleedehn.

“I thought, Jesus Christ, I might as well go to Eagle.”

It worked out perfectly.

Kleedehn arrived in the late morning, when it was still cool. He rested his dogs most of the afternoon in the sun, and left before dark.

“At least I get my first taste of the happy river in the daylight,” he said, referring to all the jumble ice on the Yukon.

“So by the time it gets dark my nerves will have calmed down a little bit more.”

After his 12-hour run, Kleedehn only stayed four hours in Eagle for a reason.

“This way the dogs are not rested 100 per cent, they are still tired, so they won’t run as much (in the jumble ice),” he said.

Kleedehn was “out of control” leaving Dawson.

“And there was a little taste of jumble ice there,” he said.

“Nothing that anybody else called serious, but I was on my ass several times.

“I don’t want to take a rested dog team out in that stuff.”

Hugh Neff arrived in Eagle an hour after Kleedehn, and Jon Little arrived, just before he left.

There’s a mandatory four-hour rest at the checkpoint.

“So you know they’re stuck here for four hours,” said Kleedehn of the teams behind him.

“If I was someone with another good dog team out there, I would get here so I wasn’t missing the train.

“I might get four hours on some of those teams. And if I had a dog team that could prevent a guy from getting a jump like that, I’d be here.”

Kleedehn’s lead is still tenuous.

“I have to make it through all that jumble ice to Circle City,” he said.

“And then, if I still have a good lead, I may be in good shape.”

Three and a half hours after Kleedehn left, Sebastian Schnuelle and Brent Sass were heading out into the starry night as a team.

“So if the shit hits the fan, we’re together somewhat,” said Sass.

Running through the jumble in the dark is both good and bad, he added.

“At least in the dark you don’t see it, so there’s nothing to be scared of.”

At Eagle, Schnuelle was “caught between a rock and a hard place.”

He wanted to wait until daylight, so he’d be able to see the jumble ice he was navigating.

But if he waited, his dog team would be too well rested.

“Then I don’t know what they will do to me,” said Schnuelle.

Former Quest musher John Schandelmeier put in the trail this year, “but he’s not a god – he can only do what he can do,” said Schnuelle.

At a trail briefing in Dawson on Wednesday, Schandelmeier painted a grim picture of the ice between Eagle and Slaven’s dog drop 163 kilometres away.

“There are going to be a couple of challenging sections,” he said.

“There’s jumble on the trail and you could tear things off.”

There are sections of glare ice up to 11 kilometres long and some rough river crossings, he said.

“We took dog teams and machines across it and it’s doable, but it’s not a lot of fun.”

One of the locals in Eagle broke his knee travelling to his cabin on the Yukon through that ice, added Schandelmeier.

The machine stopped dead and he didn’t.

“I know the trail’s going to be invisible,” said Little, packing up to leave about an hour behind Neff.

“There’ll be markers and I will have to tell the dogs to go toward it over all kinds of glare ice,” he said.

“And here I am going at night.

“This stuff coming up is supposedly horrendous.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read