Yukon Quest mushers and dogs arrive at Dawson City checkpoint

The leader of this year's race arrived at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. By early Thursday morning, two more mushers had arrived. The first Yukon team, Ed Hopkins of Tagish, arrived at 8:28 a.m.

'Over the summits it was great. There was no wind, no snow ... uneventful,' says leading musher Allen Moore

Allen Moore was the first to arrive at the Dawson City checkpoint for 2018 Yukon Quest. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Allen Moore is the first musher into Dawson City in this year's Yukon Quest. The leader of this year's race arrived at 8:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.

The temperature was –39 C when Moore got to the checkpoint, and he said the cold is "probably the worst thing this year," but otherwise had no complaints.

"Over the summits it was great. There was no wind, no snow, that's uneventful which was good. It all went pretty well," Moore said.

Moore's team still has all 14 dogs. Moore said his lead dog Commando brought the team in.

Mushers must stay in Dawson City for 36 hours as are the rules of the race. 

This year, the 26 competitors (11 of them are rookies) left Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 3, pulled by 364 dogs. 

By Thursday morning, two more mushers arrived in Dawson City: Paige Drobny at about 4:21 a.m., and Matt Hall at about 5:11 a.m. Yukoner Ed Hopkins, of Tagish, checked in at 8:28 a.m.

Volunteer vet's 1st quest

Emily Schendel, a fourth year vet student from Wisconsin, is a part of the vet team with the quest and has been travelling the whole trail starting in Fairbanks.

Emily Schendel is a volunteer vet at the 2018 Yukon Quest. She's a fourth year student at the University of Wisconsin in the U.S. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

This is her first Yukon Quest — a three-year goal in the making. 

Schendel said she emailed the lead veterinarian with the quest three years ago, asking to be a part of the 2018 quest. 

"She put my name on a little sticky note and put it on her wall for three years. Then sent me an invitation email last fall and I said, 'heck yes!'" said Schendel, while waiting for the first mushers to arrive in Dawson.

As the teams arrive, the vets will check each dog and look for injuries or signs of sickness, and make recommendations to the musher, said Schendel. 

Yukon Quest fan Harvey Van Patten, from West Dawson, says he's seen at least 30 of the races. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Schendel said she couldn't comment on the health of this year's dogs for confidentiality reasons, but says generally, she noticed the mushers are taking good care of them.

Helping build her son's camp

Iris Hamlyn of Yellowknife was also busy at work Wednesday — building a musher's camp for her 23-year-old son, Nathaniel Hamlyn. He lives in Whitehorse and is competing in the 1,000 mile race for the first time.

"I've been at all his major races, so it only seemed natural that I'd be at the quest 1,000, which was his dream," Hamlyn said.

Hamlyn was helping to clear the ground, to build a camp for her son and his dogs to rest for the mandatory 36 hour stop in Dawson.

"We're shovelling really hard which keeps us warm ... it's not been cold at all," she said.

"I just think it's an awesome experience. Like my son just turned 23... I just think for somebody that young to be involved and wanting to do the quest, it's just great."

With files from Philippe Morin


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