2004 Iditarod Sketch Pad

Jon & Jona Van Zyle's exclusive sketches, stories from the trail

Lighting the way
2004 Iditarod Poster
Jon Jona Van Zyle
Jon & Jona Van Zyle
Sneaking Out
2004 Mush Poster

Visit Jon Van Zyle's Iditarod Art

Main Page Meet Jon & Jona Introduction Bootie Call Drop Bag Delivery Day Vet Check Jr. Iditarod
3/7 Iditarod Restart 3/8 Trail Notes 3/9 Rohn to Takotna 3/10 Takotna a.m. 3/10 Takotna p.m.
3/11 Takotna 3/14 Unalakleet 3/15-16 Unalakleet 3/16 Unalakleet
3/17 Unalakleet to Nome 3/19 Nome 3/20 Nome Finish Line Group Photo
Jona's Reflections

Wednesday, 3/10/04 - Takotna p.m.

Takotna is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame as many teams are taking their 24 hr. layover here. Lines of media ring the computers and small planes fill the air between snow squalls. We just got word that Lance Mackey lost a dog just outside of Nikolai this morning. His name was Wolf and the vets aren’t sure what was the cause of death. The veterinarians I’ve spoken with have all felt that in general the dogs are looking very good. They pulled one with pneumonia at Rainy Pass, but mostly its diarrhea and small complaints that need vet attention. Paul was able to deliver Rick Swenson’s sled to him in Nikolai. Rick was able to patch his smashed sled together enough to limp into Nikolai.

Paul flew back to Puntilla Lake for the other 4 people and our food, tents and gear. Then flew back to Nikolai where he picked up Joel and Marc. (ADN reporter/photographer)

Flying the trail gets really complicated. You have very limited space for personal gear. You also have to carry some emergency food and your sleeping bag with you at all times. You never know when you may be stuck and where you’ll end up. You travel with your warmest clothing so there isn’t much room. Paul is very conscious about the plane’s weight limits. I’m traveling with about the same amount of personal gear as I would for a sled dog trip.

Paul traded flight time for the use of an old home in Takotna. Dick and Jan Newton, who run this checkpoint, gave us the use of the Sayer house, one of the oldest in Takotna.

We’ve got a few beds upstairs in the loft and a couple of empty rooms downstairs. We have electricity and heat but no running water or cooking facilities other than our camp stove which will do fine. We also haveHot Water at Takotna BUSH Bathroom. We have a toilet and we fill the tank manually from a 30 gallon garbage can of water sitting next to the toilet. You request water deliveries when you need a refill and kids on snowmachines appear with gerry cans of water. Snowmachines are the main transportation in the winter and 4-wheeled ATV’s in the summer. Shopping means a flight into Anchorage to Costco. If you fly commercially that means air taxi to McGrath then Penair to Anchorage, on their one flight a day. The Newtons were thrilled to have Paul fly all the supplies in to feed and provide for all the Iditarod Army. Takotna has a winter population of 60 people which swells to 100 in the summer. They created their own water system for the village by drawing water from a creek above the houses. The water runs down to their “Filtration plant” and then to the community center. Water is delivered to the other homes. The Takotna School is a modern structure and well equipped for its location. The children annually create a snow sculpture of a musher and dog team to welcome the Iditarod mushers to Takotna. Everyone pitches in for the several days the race is here. They all work around the clock to care for dogs and people, it’s great to see and be part of it.


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For more information about Ellie and her home at Ultima Thule Lodge you can visit their web site at www.ultimathulelodge.com

More information about Ellie Claus can be found on the Iditarod web site www.iditarod.com

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2004 Jon & Jona Van Zyle
All material in the Iditarod Sketch Pad remain the property of Jon & Jona Van Zyle and may not be reproduced in any manner.