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Serum Run 2000

This spring I was invited to be a member of the Serum Run expedition, which consisted of 11 dog teams and 15 snowmobiles, that followed the original Serum Run trail, from Nenana to Nome, Alaska, a total of 887 miles. The original Serum Run, in 1925, was a rescue operation to rush diptheria serum to Nome, Alaska, because of an epidemic which threatened to wipe out the town. Our trip began on February 26th, and lasted 3 weeks. My team member was a friend of mine, Paul Finch Jr., from North Pole, Alaska. For us it was a mission trip, for we knew of no better way to travel through the remote, interior Alaska, and hold services, make new contacts, renew previous contacts we had made in years past, and have the opportunity to develop new friendships with the expedition members we would be traveling with. The most notorious member of the team was Norman Vaughn, who is the last, living member of Admiral Byrd's expedition to Antarctica, in 1927-30. Truth is stranger than fiction, and I still find it difficult to believe that, Norman is now 94 years old, and he drove his own snowmobile the entire 887 miles, unassisted! Some days the trail was very rough, and we were pulling heavy sleds, which caused a few accidents. Norman rolled his machine a couple times also, but was unhurt. One of the dog team drivers was injured bad enough to drop out of the trip, when her sled was blown over on a mountain one day. Norman is a very special personality, with a wonderful attitude and spirit. He certainly reflects the atmosphere of a bygone era, and you truly feel you have been with a great man. Below is a picture of myself, (Rodger Rinker) with Norman on the day we arrived in Nome. Following that, are thumbprints of pictures, which you can click on for a larger picture and pages that will tell the 'rest of the story'.

Rodger & Norman

Group assembling outside of Nome Serum Run group assembling outside Nome, preparing for their parade down main street.
Paul Finch's dog team. Musher, Paul Finch Jr., my friend & team member. We camped together, & I helped haul some of his supplies.
Our snowmachine & sled at Tolavana Lodge. My snowmachine & sled with a typical load tied on & ready to travel out of Tolavana.
Mushers hitch up a team. Mushers harnessing team & loading sled, preparing to leave Tolavana.
White Mountain checkpoint. Doug Swingly, pulling into White Mountain checkpoint on the Iditarod sled dog race. The Iditarod race caught up to us here, and the lead runners passed us up.
Doug Swingly at White Mountain. Doug Swingly at White Mountain checkpoint.
The fastest distance team in the world. Swingly tending to his dogs just after arriving. This team traveled 1100 miles faster than any team ever did on earth- "ever".
Iditarod Checkpoint. Crowd at White Mountain who came out to see history in the making.
Vet examining race dogs.

Veterinarian examining Swingly's dogs at White Mountain.

Town of White Mountain Alaska. The village of White Mountain, Alaska, with Iditarod checkpoint on the river ice.
Two mushers on tundra. Two teams traveling together across the tundra out of Shaktoolik, just about to head out onto the sea ice for a 30 mile run across the bay to Koyuk
Old Woman Cabin. Forestry cabin by Old Woman mountain, east of Unalakleet. We camped here.
Camping at Old Woman Mountain. Sun rise at Old Woman mountain.
Tolavana Lodge on the Tanana River. Tolavana lodge, on the Tanana river. We stayed here one night.
River view in front of Tolavana Lodge. Looking down the trail, heading down the Tanana river at Tolavana lodge.
Welcoming party near Shaktoolik. Welcoming party that met us 10 miles out of Shaktoolik, and went on up the mountain to have a 'picnic'.
Colonel Norman Vaughn. Colonel Vaughn & Rodger Rinker on the trail to Shaktoolik.
Paul Finch's team settled in at Kaltag, Alaska. Dog team bedded down at Kaltag, Alaska.
Dean's team. Serum Run musher on the Yukon River.
Camping in the school at Kaltag. Kaltag, Alaska public school. Typical of the village schools where we would camp, when available, in the gym. Serum Run snowmobiles parked outside.
Camping on the open tundra at Safety, Alaska. Dog team bedded down on the open tundra at Safety, Alaska, 20 miles from Nome, and the end of the trail.
The dog yard at Safety, Alaska. More teams digging into the snow to spend the night at Safety, Alaska.
Dog with enough sense to pray. One of the 'fox holes' which was dug in the snow for each dog at Safety. The wind was blowing hard and the teams were tied out on the open tundra.
Norman at Nome. Norman Vaughn, just out of Nome, Alaska.
Sled Dog One of the dogs that pulled a load 887 miles, taking a rest at Safety, Alaska.
Eskimo children at Shaktoolik, Alaska. Eskimo children at Shaktoolik, Alaska.
End of the Trail at Nome, Alaska.

Most of the Serum Run Expedition members, under the arch at Nome, Alaska.

Don Bowers web site is no longer active. Don was killed in a plane crash on Mt. McKinley in June, shortly after the Serum Run. I'll always remember Don and traveling together on this trip.

Official Serum Run Web Site....... Official Iditarod Sled Dog Race Web Site

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