The only way to McGrath, Alaska, during wintertime is by plane or on the Iditarod trail. A fan of the Iditarod dogsled race, and also the Iron Dog snowmachine race, author Matt Snader decides to ride the Iditarod trail from Willow (where it starts), to McGrath, a distance of 300 miles. His wife and son accompany him, as well as his brother-in-law, Mike. On the last trip, Mike’s wife, Gina, also goes along. No one in the group is experienced in dealing with Alaska’s harsh climate and unpredictable trail conditions.
Three trips are attempted over the course of 13 months. With each trip the group learns a lot more about snowmachines and the Alaska wilderness. The group planned to ride the entire distance to Nome in 2021, but the changes made to the Iditarod Race due to COVID prompted a shorter ride of 600 miles. Matt Snader and his family logged over 1,000 miles on the Iditarod trail in the course of these combined trips.
The Iditarod Trail is not a regularly groomed course, like many trails in the lower 48. Riding through the remote, frozen interior of Alaska can be dangerous. Extreme cold, water overflow on rivers and lakes, wildlife, and mechanical problems all caused challenges. Fuel needed to be hauled along, and problems arose when trails did not match the GPS. On several occasions the group got lost, resulting in them sleeping in a trapper’s cabin on one occasion, and in a mining camp on another. Due to miscommunication, Search and Rescue, along with a helicopter were dispatched to find the group. Along the way they encounter famous Iditarod mushers, such as Dallas Seavey and Lance Mackey. An interesting read for the whole family!