Mackey got lost outside Dawson

PELLY CROSSING Heading out of Dawson with Ken Anderson on his tail, Lance Mackey got lost. “It’s my own damn fault,” said the…

PELLY CROSSING

Heading out of Dawson with Ken Anderson on his tail, Lance Mackey got lost.

“It’s my own damn fault,” said the three-time Yukon Quest champ

“I was running without a headlamp looking at the moon, and didn’t see the trail markers.

“Ironically, I’ve done it before in the same area.”

Two years ago, when the Quest finished in Dawson, Mackey took a wrong turn and travelled at least five hours out of his way, almost losing the race to Whitehorse’s Hans Gatt.

“Let’s just say, I know the backside of Dawson real well,” he said.

“And this time, I got to see the wind tower.”

When Mackey started climbing, he figured he was on King Solomon’s Dome, the 1,000-metre summit on the Quest trail.

“I thought I might be on the wrong trail, because I didn’t see any markers — but it looked kind of familiar,” he said.

A couple hours later, the road stopped at a tower.

By now, Mackey knew something was wrong.

“But I decided to stop and wait 15 minutes to see if Ken had taken the wrong trail too.”

When he didn’t show up, Mackey headed back down the mountain.

“When you turn a team around, it breaks their spirit,” he said.

“I sat and apologized to them for 15 minutes.”

The side trip took about four hours, said Mackey.

And it put Anderson in the lead.

Hauling into Pelly just after midnight on Monday, the Fairbanks musher was in a rush.

“I need to get my gear and drop a dog,” he said to the checker.

“Where’s my handler?

“Where’s my stuff — where are my food-drop bags?”

Leaving Dawson, Anderson didn’t see any tracks, he said, tearing through his drop bags, grabbing some kibble and snacks.

“So I figured (Mackey) was lost; then I began to worry I was lost, but there were markers. It was like the Twilight Zone.”

Mackey caught Anderson camping after the dome and rested with him.

“He did a 10-hour run to get there,” said Anderson, unhooking an exhausted dog from his gangline.

“I wanted to see where Ken was at,” said Mackey.

Mackey cut over two hours’ rest to leave when Anderson did.

But to keep up with Mackey, Anderson is also cutting rest time.

“He’s faster than me,” said Anderson.

“He gains about a half hour on an eight-hour run. So, I’m also cutting rest.”

Lying down at the checkpoint while Anderson filled his cooler with hot water, his team looked tired.

Neck in neck, Mackey and Anderson split up before Pelly.

Anderson camped behind Mackey, who was running in the lead.

And while Mackey was resting at Stepping Stone, 51 kilometres from Pelly, Anderson tried to sneak by.

But Mackey’s “savvy.”

“He had his dogs right on the trail,” said Anderson.

“So they barked and probably woke him up.”

Mackey left Stepping Stone an hour after Anderson blew by.

But by the time he reached Pelly, about four hours later, he was only half an hour behind him.

Mackey was also in a rush, but he took time to feed a snack to his dogs.

“Their attitude is not like it was last year at this time,” he said.

“They’re normally screaming and barking to go.”

However, none of Mackey’s dogs were lying down like Anderson’s. And as the musher zipped up his sled bag, the team started to bark and lunge ahead.

“That’s more like it,” said Mackey, walking up his team, petting every dog.

Tonya, his wife and handler, stepped aside and the string of dogs snaked out of Pelly with snow flying behind Mackey’s brake.

A few subtle commands brought the team through a couple of tough turns and he was gone.

Anderson’s handler had more trouble, falling and struggling to keep up as she led his leaders past the same tricky turns.

Now that he’s in front, he’s having more fun, Anderson  said.

In Dawson, the musher was talking about holding back to save his team for the Iditarod. He placed seventh last year.

But now the Iditarod is a little further from his mind, he said with a laugh.

In Dawson, both mushers hoped to ignore the other’s strategy.

“It’s tough to put those blinders on,” said Anderson.

“But you can’t beat somebody playing their game.”

Mackey was also finding it hard to stick to his original plan.

It’s tempting to just hold back and run with Anderson, he said.

“Because know I’m faster.”

But it could be disastrous.

“All it would take is one wrong turn,” said Mackey.

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read