There are still unconquered lands.
I saw a bumper sticker not long ago that said 'Alaskans For Global Warming.' I had to laugh. I think there are 22 mushers somewhere in the Canadian Yukon who would gladly support that cause right now.
The dwindling #yukonquest
field has largely checked through Pelly Crossing, and is now making the 201 mile trek to Dawson City. Temperatures are reported to be in the -50 range.
We don't count wind chill up here. At -45 (the lowest windchill charts go) even the 10 mph wind speed created by a dog team drops the effective temp to 72 below. Anyone who's ever traveled the Yukon knows there is a near constant wind.
I say somewhere in the Yukon because we don't really know where the mushers are. They are carrying little GPS trackers, but there are places on this planet where GPS doesn't work. Where satellite phones say 'no signal.' Where you remember that no matter how many machines we put into space, how smart we can make a computer, or how many warplanes we can stack on a boat, humans are still not in control. We are very, very, very, small.
Right now 22 mushers are feeling very small. Their world consists of the 10' beam cast by the LED headlight. It shows 12 little dog butts, concertedly scurrying towards some unknown destination. They have no idea where they are, and rarely see markers. They are relying entirely on those lead dogs to follow the trail, on those little trail markers to lead to somewhere, on the 3 AA batteries in that headlight to last until daylight, on these 24,506 goose feathers to keep their core temperature slightly above hypothermia. The only thing they can hope to control is to make their fingers hold onto that handlebar. Never let go. But at -72, they're not even in control of their fingers.
Have you ever been in 50 below? Try to eat. A snickers bar might as well be a concrete block. A banana will drive a 20 penny nail into a plank. If spilled, freshly roasted coffee will freeze before it hits the ground. Same goes for bodily fluids.
If you're frustrated watching the GPS trackers, don't worry, they're not telling the truth. Jeff King (I'm 99% sure) isn't still stopped, and all those other blips DO NOT accurately represent where the teams that carry the signal actually are. We'll know when they get to Dawson. Fortunately the Yukon Quest Facebook page is doing a phenomenal job posting updates.
But Facebook doesn't work where those guys are either.