Checkpoint #11 - Shaktoolik and preparing to cross the Norton Sound

March 19

Trent pulled in to Shaktoolik at 357PM this afternoon after a 6 hour 33 minute, 6.11 mph romp over the Blueberry Hills from Unalakleet.  Trent is currently running 66th out of the 78 mushers who started the race.  

Shaktoolit, population 251, is a subsistence maritime village that sits on a spit on the Norton Sound where the Shaktoolik River terminates.  It was settled as early as 1839 but there is evidence of settled communities in the immediate area that are 6,000 to 8,000 years old.  The town had to be relocated due to erosion in 1933 and again in 1967.  It looks like a place that will be unlikely to survive the effects of climate change.   Temperatures in the winter can regularly get below -50F.  Trent told me it was “an incredible and godforsaken place at the same time”.  A couple of pix below from when I stopped in Shaktoolit for about an hour Tuesday, 2 days ago.
On Wednesday, about 20 mushers were holed up there waiting for 24 hours for the weather to clear.  They have since checked out of Shaktoolik, and hopefully Trent is in for an easier stay.  From Shaktoolik the trail makes the famous 50 mile, over-the-sea  ice crossing of the Norton Sound to Koyuk that Leonhard Seppala took in the great Serum Run to cut time off the trip to Nome.   This can be the most difficult run of the race.   I just now see where two of the mushers (Scott Jansen and Brian Bearss) that were holed up in Shak, had a horrible crossing to Koyuk and had to hit the 'rescue button' on their trackers and scratched.  

In the 1925 Great Serum Run to Nome; Myles Gonangnan carried the the anti-toxin from Unalakleet to Shaktoolik.