Before Kristin's first Iditarod journey as a musher, she was a Skwentna Sweetie for 10 years. The Sweeties and Darlings are groups of dedicated individuals who staff Iditarod's Skwentna checkpoint at the Dehlia's homestead each year. These volunteers make the Skwentna checkpoint a home away from home for its volunteers, race officials and mushers. It was here, in Skwentna in March of 2011, where Kristin was introduced to Ryan Redington, who later sold her the mother of her first litter of pups (Libby).
Our Buy-A-Mile program has made it to Skwentna, and we are now working our way toward Finger Lake, the third checkpoint on the trail. The following description tells a bit about the trail between Yentna and Skwentna, as well as Skwentna as a checkpoint (courtesy of Iditarod.edu):
“The distance from Yentna Station to the second checkpoint, Skwentna is 34 miles. These are easy miles for the mushers and dog teams as the trail follows the Yentna River until joining the Skwentna River a couple of miles short of the checkpoint.
Skwentna checkpoint is located on the Skwentna River at the Post Office and the home of Joe and Norma Delia. Joe has been the postmaster in Skwentna since 1948. Skwentna has a population of 75 in the winter and about 250 during the summer. There aren’t enough children in the area to have a school so the kids who live there are home schooled. Folks come to the post office by snowmachine, plane or dog team in the winter and boat in the summer. Average rainfall per year is 27 inches and average snowfall is 118 inches. In January, the Delias experience temperatures from 30° below to 33° above and in July the thermometer can dip to the lower 40’s soar to the mid 80’s. Athabascan Indians have fished and hunted along the Yentna and Skwentna Rivers for centuries.
You can’t believe how exciting and noisy it is to have all the Iditarod teams come through a checkpoint in just 12 hours. As the race goes further down the trail, it spreads out but in the early checkpoints like Yentna Station, Skwentna, Finger Lake and Rainy Pass, all the teams are still pretty close together.
There are about 40 or more people who come together to make things happen at Skwentna. The River Crew comes in from Tacoma, Washington. They lay out straw bales, sort food, heat water, park teams and act as checkers. The Skwentna Sweeties come from Eagle River, Alaska [and other locations]. They provide hospitality by cooking great meals for all the workers and the mushers. There are five or six veterinarians, a race judge, a race marshal and a handful of communications people.”
Many thanks to all those who have helped us get to both Yentna and Skwentna. We’re looking forward to many more adventures as we work our way toward Finger Lake!!
Photos courtesy of: