Gold Rush Trail
Sled Dog Mail Run
Quesnel/Wells, British Columbia
January 25-27, 2002
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Results provided by Jeffrey Dinsdale
The tenth running of the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run is now history, but the participants, handlers and spectators will not forget this special weekend for a long time to come. The many months of planning by the volunteers of the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Association came together perfectly and co-operation was the key word. With a over a foot of fresh snow during the week prior to the Mail Run, incredible trails of a lifetime to run on, bracing -30C (-22F) temperatures, a great group of participants, the fun-filled Wells Winter Carnival, co-operation of a large number of willing volunteers, a wonderful banquet and auction, a thrilling dash to Barkerville, the opportunity to make new friends.....it was a great mushing weekend.
Participation was the key. There were several teams participating in their first longer mushing event. Participants between the ages of 12 and 71 completed the whole 90 kilometre (55 mile) trail. Many folks were introduced to winter camping for the first time. The scenery, the fresh snow, the snow-covered trees, the great trails all combined to produce nothing but superlatives from all involved.
There were a total of 14 teams that covered the whole trail. In addition, six other teams covered parts of the total trail. A total of 1516 individual pieces of mail were carried over the route in 10 different sleds. Eventually these envelopes will end up in 26 different countries, with 173 envelopes going to the U.S. and another 131 envelopes going to other countries outside Canada. Exotic destinations like Nunavut, Tasmania, Queensland, Fiji, Kenya and New Zealand are all included among these delivery points.
The campout at Ahbau Lake campground was a great experience. Over 50 participants and at least 100 sled dogs spent the night, with temperatures dipping to almost -30C. There were at least 15 tents of various descriptions, some hardy souls slept out under the stars. There was a great bonfire along with four swedish heaters (youll have to come next year to find out what these are), everyone ate supper together and it was after 10:00 p.m. when the last person went to bed. Breakfast started early, lots of oatmeal and coffee and the teams were off beginning at 8:30 a.m. Some new teams joined for the day and about 15 teams made the run down the 1000 Road to the Scout Checkpoint where hamburgers and hotdogs along with hot chocolate were available for everyone. Then it was on to the 24A Road where the trail was unlike any musher had every run before. The day previously, Rick Broswyk has completed grooming with his 10 foot groomer.....picture pristine fresh snow conditions, with a 10 foot perfectly smooth swath packed through the snow, frozen rock hard.......it was like running on a table top, the dogs loved it, there was virtually no friction for the sled.......and it went on like this for over 20 miles. Eventually the teams dropped down to Fran MacPhersons homestead on the Willow River where they regrouped and at 3:30 p.m., all of the teams left together and arrived at Wells en masse.......it was a great spectacle and a truly thrilling moment for all involved.
There were a total of 22 participants in the Barkerville Dash, a 5 mile event between Wells and Barkerville. Run on Sunday morning, the temperature was -30C, the sky was blue and the sun shone as teams raced over the trail. Some sleds carried passengers, some competitors skijoured, two even competed on bicycles. Everyone received a prize for taking part and the winner of the special draw for the Williams Creek gold nugget (dontated by local placer miner Pete Wright) was Quesnel musher Holger Bauer. As the participants arrived at Barkerville, they had to rush to the Gold Commissioner and stake their claim. The atmosphere among participants and spectators was wonderful.
Eighty people enjoyed a great banquet and auction. All participants (which included three snowmobilers from Austria) received a participation T Shirt, a great certificate and other awards. The 10th Anniversary cake was cut, there were speeches and accolades, draws for participation awards and a lot of fun.