Iditawalker home after third trek of the Iditarod Trail

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It was the most difficult walk yet for Soldotna's Iditawalker, but even with bronchitis and swelling of his feet and eyes, Denis Douglas completed his walk to Nome for the third time in just less than two months.

"The first hundred miles was pretty good, but it gradually got worse around Finger Lake and I got into deep snow and white out conditions. I couldn't even see Rainy Pass, I had to stay in the valley and go around Ptarmigan which was about 24 miles further," said Douglas.

It wasn't the lack of snow, but the heavy, wet snow that also added miles to the trek. In some places Douglas had to break trail with snow shoes and then go back to get his sled, taking three miles to gain one.

Douglas was alone on the famous Ididarod trail this year, as the dog sled race was forced to take an alternative route to Nome starting in Fairbanks rather than Anchorage, and the Iorn Dog snow machine race was canceled. That meant that there was no one to break the trail for the solo Iditawalker, and the only way out was to keep going. However, there were some good times on the trail.

"A short ways out of Nome, I had just stopped and fixed a Top Ramen for lunch and I was heading back towards Nome and this snow machine came out from one of the cabins and the guy asked me if I wanted to come over for lunch, and I told him I'd just eaten, but he said his wife had just pulled a platter of cinnamon rolls out of the oven. I told him you said the right thing and I climbed on the back of his snow machine and had hot chocolate and a whole platter of cinnamon rolls. It's amazing how you can eat a whole platter of cinnamon rolls when you're doing this sort of thing," recalled Denis, grinning from ear to ear.

Douglas made the walk to raise funds for several organizations and had anticipated some national publicity to help the effort. The war however, dominated the media and Douglas fell short of his fund raising goals.

"We're still collecting contributions and if any one wants to add to it they can call me or my wife at 262-6819," said Douglas.

The Iditawalker is staying in shape for his next walk by walking with a group of friends on Mackey Lake Rd. Denis will be out of town for a few weeks working, but anyone wanting to do some healthy walking with the Mackey Lake walkers until Denis returns can call Martha Pierce at Mackey Lake Welding at 262-7456.

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