I arrive around 5 p.m. at CP4 (Rohn), made up of a tent with a stove and a low bed, made of straw, for 6 people. Beth, Graham, George and Roberto, all on bikes, are there. I give myself 1 hour stop before resuming the trail. The stove purrs, I can dry my things. I eat two Bratwursts, I have never enjoyed better ones. I take this opportunity to recover my 2nd drop bag, (we were entitled to two, limited to 2.5kg, deposited by the organization), containing the necessary food until arrival. I feel great after 53 km since this morning and choose to ski despite the falling night. If I go ahead well, I’ll be in Nicolai tomorrow (another 120 km)… I smell strong.
The track starts again on the frozen river. It is strewn with pebbles; I pass as best as I can, without taking off the skis. I keep in mind this difficult track, very uneven, strewn with branches, trees: dangerous. A bad memory comes back to me: I had an accident here 20 years ago. I am warned, a warned man… It seems easier to me than in my bitter memory. The track is made of a succession of steep ascents and descents, I have to take off skis very often. I am in the territory of the bisons. Hunters left offal along the trail. I can hear wolves. It is pitch dark. I am alone. Atmosphere… I go past “Bisons Camp” at midnight and decide to pitch my tent, I’m exhausted. Can’t find a place with no wind. In addition, the snow is so powdery that I sink to the thighs off the track. No milling machine along this section.
I finally spot a recess to settle in, the wind is increasing. While everything is set up, a flurry literally tears my tent, I just have time to dive to catch it. Beat had warned me: a tent on the Iditarod can be dangerous or even dramatic. With winds more than 50km/h, it risks flying away, you could sleep outside and die frozen!
Following his advice, I bought a bivouac bag the day before departure. However, I prefer to pitch my tent where there is more space to undress. In a bivouac bag, you sleep in the snow, fully dressed in your down, shoes on your feet. It’s much less comfortable, and less restful. So I fold it all up and set off again. After 5 km, the hunters’ skidoos turned around and packed a stretch of track. There ! Finally ! The wind has not weakened, I am particularly careful when setting up my tent.
I go to bed around 1 am after a beautiful and long 80 km stage. There are still about 85 km to Nicolai that I hope to reach this evening. I fall asleep with a wolf howling. I may be worried. I am happy.