Musher separated from team says fellow musher saved him and his dogs
Two mushers pulled into the Nikolai checkpoint around noon Tuesday with a story from the trail that neither has been able to stop thinking about.
"We had a night this night we'll remember forever," Mats Pettersson said after pulling in with his team. He described the scene he stumbled upon just two miles outside of the Rohn checkpoint.
"I see a headlight flashing and it's my buddy Fiedler," Pettersson said. "He didn't have a team, he only had a sled. No dogs."
Pettersson said the line connecting all 13 of Linwood Fiedler's dogs to his sled broke, so he towed Fiedler and the two looked for the team.
"Then we come to the river and we suddenly saw his team there, like 13 dogs out on the river, everybody together there, we couldn't see any injuries or anything like that," he said.
Shortly after Pettersson arrived in Nikolai, Fiedler pulled in.
"I lost my dog team out there," he said to the checker signing him in.
As Pettersson approached, Fiedler pointed saying, "That guy saved my team."
"It's the only thing I've been thinking all night," Pettersson said. "How crazy it was that we were able to find them."
"We were lucky, lucky, lucky," Fiedler said. "If it had been daylight, I think we would have missed them."
Fiedler described what happened to the race judge at the checkpoint.
"I hit a stump and the 'biner broke," he said. "I walked for a while pushing my sled 'cause I couldn't, you know, I thought, 'Well, if I find them I have to have something to attach them to.' That obviously wasn't very productive."
Eventually, with Pettersson's help, Fiedler said he found his dogs off the trail on Post River.
"It was just luck that my headlight picked up their eyes, they were way down the river, way off the trail," he said.
One of the dogs appears to have been drug in the snow, Fiedler said, but he didn't notice any serious injuries.
During the 2017 Iditarod, Fiedler fell asleep and fell off his sled and was helped by another musher in Ruby.
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