Yukon Quest

You may have noticed that it has been a while since I posted a review.  This delay is a result of three things:

1. I’ve been sick as a dog for the past three days.  Make up your mind Florida!  Either Winter or Spring; you can’t continue to have both every week.

2. I beta read a novel for a sweet friend, and I can’t wait for her novel to eventually hit the shelves.

3. And lastly, I have been glued to my Twitter and Facebook watching the running of the Yukon Quest!

So for those who do not know, and haven’t had to listen to me gush about my new interest like poor Mike, the Yukon Quest is an international dog sled race that is run from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska.  The website provides this description, “The Yukon Quest Trail follows historical Gold Rush and mail delivery dog sled routes from the turn of the 20th Century. Once the transportation “highways” of the Northern frontier, the Yukon Quest Trail now comes alive each February with the frosty breath and haunting howls of hundreds of sled dogs. Up to 50 dog teams consisting of one human ‘musher’ and 14 canine athletes tread across some of the last pristine wilderness remaining in North America.”

Ryne Olson arriving at Dusk in Circle.

My interest in dog sledding was sparked years ago by Sue Henry’s Murder on the Yukon Quest, and I decided to follow the race this year.  It started on February 7th and the winner, Brent Sass, crossed the finish line in Fairbanks on February 15th.  I am amazed that these mushers choose to live in the extreme cold, it was -50 degrees at the start of the race, and that they seem to enjoy every minute spent traversing the snowy landscape between checkpoints with their dogs.  I did my best to immerse myself in the race culture from my couch in Florida, and I would be jumping to participate next year if I wasn’t such a weeny when it comes to the cold!  The finish between Brent Sass and Allen Moore was a close one and I was one of many glued to the live tracker feed in the late hours on Monday.

Ed Hopkins’ dog at a checkpoint rest.

But my new found appreciation of dog sled racing is more than just the thrill of the race.  I am impressed by the community.  I like how friendly everyone seems, how so many people volunteer their time at the checkpoints, and how these people truly love what they do.  They adore their dogs and everyone, including the pups, are all smiles upon arriving at a checkpoint.  It is just refreshing in our world of professional athletes worth millions to find athletes who do something just because they love it.  Yes these mushers race with the best sleds available, and yes many run large dog kennels, but these people really love what they do.  Take some time  and browse the links below.  Watch some videos and listen to their encounters with wild life, watch them interact with their pups, and sing and dance!

Brent Sass at the finish line with two of his lead dogs!




Brent Sass may have crossed the finish line but the race is still going!  Take the time to check out the mushers and look forward to more posts coming in the next month about the Iditarod.  (All photos are from the Yukon Quest Facebook page)


Murder on the Yukon Quest

Murder on the Yukon Quest

by Sue Henry

Murder on the Yukon Quest (Alex Jensen / Jessie Arnold, #6)

Jessie and her team of dogs are competing in the toughest dog sled race in the world–with an unknown killer on their trail. The beautiful Alaskan wilderness is the setting for this novel, by the author of Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

I discovered Sue Henry five years ago while wondering through the local library on a dreary January afternoon.  I had just moved to Florida and, for some reason, my heart longed to read an Alaskan mystery.  Sue Henry delivered and I ended up reading all her books in the library that rainy month.

Murder on the Yukon Quest is the 5th book in the Alex & Jessie series but the first one I read.  Jessie Arnold has decided to run her team on the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska.  She is a rookie on this trail, but an experienced musher due to running the Iditarod for years.  Jessie is excited about running this race but gets more than she bargained for when she is involved in the search for a kidnapped musher.

Henry provides beautifully detailed passages on the Canadian and Alaskan terrains and the history of the race.  She also documents the art of dogsled racing, which includes running schedules, feeding regimes, and the care of sled dogs.  I love these details because they make me feel like I am there with Jessie on her run, but these passages can be tedious for some readers.  I also enjoy reading about how the mushers work together despite competing against each other.  All racers were there to help anyone in trouble and their community is similar to the aviation community that I belong to, so I felt even more connected to the mushers.  Now add murder and kidnapping to this harsh environment and Henry has me hooked!

I do wish that Henry had tied in all the details concerning the kidnapping.  Don’t get me wrong, you will find out who did it and why, but I was left with a number of questions.  How did the bad guys become involved in this plot?  How was their plot meant to change the races?  Why choose Debbie Todd?  Small questions that keep me pondering even after the last page is turned.

I don’t recommend reading Murder on the Yukon Quest first.  It was the first Alex & Jessie novel I read and is definitely still my favorite, but this is the sixth book in a series of 12-13.  A turning point in Alex and Jessie’s relationship occurs in this novel and the relationship deserves the back story of the first five books.  I initially missed out on this and it has made it rather difficult for me to embrace Alex as Jessie’s love interest when reading the other books.  I can’t help but prefer Lynn Elhers after reading Murder on the Yukon Quest.  So start with the first book, Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

Have you read any Sue Henry novels?  Who else is planning on tracking the 2015 Yukon Quest and Iditarod Races!?