Iditarod 40: The infamous Happy River Steps

The 2012 Iditarod is only about 18 hours old and some of the front runners, Hugh Neff, Lance Mackey, Paul Gebhardt, Aily Zirkle, and Ryan Redington are making very good time with most of them heading into Rainy Pass.

Right around this area is a part of the trail that is a much of legend as the race itself. It is the infamous Happy River Steps.

Just last month the Iditarod Trail Committee decided that they were going to take out this section of the trail in favor of using something a little “more safe”, shall we say. It had something to do with mining and maybe even politics but never-the-less, as the clock struck the proverbial midnight the steps are back.

The Steps have been known to make or break an Iditaroder’s dreams and chances on making it to Nome. Countless mushers have ended their race right  there, less than a day or two into the 1,049 mile race.

Here is the announcement from the Iditarod Trail Committee:

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be utilizing the Happy River Steps in this year’s race because the reroute has been affected by weather.

The Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) announced this afternoon it will route mushers down the Happy River steps in this year’s race. In early February, the ITC made the decision to use a winter trail established last year that circumvented the steps and added a little over a mile to the distance between Finger Lake and Rainy Pass.

“While teams were still leaving 4th Avenue today, we heard from our trailbreakers that the winter trail was no longer the better option based upon the amount of snow and wind in that particular section of trail over the last day,” said Mark Nordman, Race Director.

As trail conditions are constantly affected by changes in weather, ITC, as noted at its early February board meeting, will consistently evaluate available options with the goal of providing the best possible trail.

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