Yukon Quest sled dog race begins today

Often called “the world’s toughest race”, the 2010 Yukon Quest international sled dog race begins today in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the top mushers, along with their teams of 14 dogs, setting out on a two week adventure through some of the most remote and wild backcountry found anywhere in North America.

The annual race, now in its 26th year, is a true test of stamina and skill. The racers will be challenged by a trail that is over 1000 miles in length, stretching from Fairbanks, to Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada. The route, which runs along frozen rivers and crosses four mountain range, is one that has historical significance. It was once used to deliver mail during the boom years of the Gold Rush, and it is legendary for its harsh conditions. February in the Yukon brings sub-zero temperatures, howling winds, crazy blizzards, and whiteout conditions.

24 sled dog drivers, mostly from Alaska and Canada, will get underway from the starting line on the Chena River in Fairbanks at 11 AM local time today. Amongst the mushers is former champion Lance Mackey, who returns to the Yukon Quest after taking a year off in 2009. Mackey is also the three time defending champion of the Iditarod and the only man to win both races in the same year, a feat that had previously been thought to be impossible. He is considered the odds on favorite to win again this year.

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Yukon Quest website will post updates on the race that include current standings and live tracking of the mushers out on the course. We’ll just have to wait to see if the race lives up to its “world’s toughest” moniker.

Gadling Gear Review: Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket

With winter upon us, it’s time to start bundling up. And if you have any cold weather vacations planned for the holiday season, you’ll want to be sure that you have the proper gear before you get to your destination. Keeping your core warm is not just about comfort; It’s a matter of safety. At the heart of any layering system is a solid, insulated and wind-proof fleece coat. I decided to put the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket to the test on a recent trip to the Yukon.

There are tons of fleece jackets on the market these days. Many are less about performance and more about fashion. With the temperatures in Whitehorse ranging from -25C (-13F) to -4C (24F), I needed a fleece that could actually keep me warm, and thus, healthy. I wore the R3 while splitting wood, hiking and dog sledding in some of the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced. Let’s break down how the R3 handled the conditions.The problem with many of fleece jackets is their inability to deter the wind. No matter how warm the jacket may be, if cold winds pierce the surface, the end result is a chilly core. The R3 is made of a microfleece that did a stellar job of keeping the wind out during my tests. The jacket is made partially from recycled Polartec Wind Pro fabric that claims to block “four times more wind than regular fleece.” I won’t attempt to quantify its wind-blocking abilities, but I can say that, unlike other fleeces I have worn, the R3 prevented me from feeling the wind chills will still remaining quite breathable.

The interior of the jacket is quite plush, which generated a fair amount of warmth against my base layer. The R3 managed to wick away most of the moisture generated when I was sweating during aerobic activities. It is certainly warmer and more insulated than your average fleece, so at times I did feel quite warm when indoors while others were still comfortably wearing their coats.

The R3 looks and feels like a durable product. The seams and pockets are sturdily stitched and the pockets are are glued-in to provide extra dependability. And while it’s solid and warm, it never felt heavy when I was wearing it. At $200, this is not your entry-level fleece and it is clearly made to last.

The fit of the jacket is snug but not tight. I have rather broad shoulders and a long torso, so the R3 did feel somewhat fitted around my shoulders and at times seemed somewhat short. However, it still comfortably fit when worn above a base layer (or two). I would certainly recommend that you try the jacket on at a store before purchasing to ensure that you find the appropriate size.

The purpose of a fleece of this quality is to keep you warm first and foremost, but you don’t want to own an ugly coat. The R3 is quite handsome and the snug fit, while worrisome if you are exceptionally broad, does cut some attractive lines.

While a fleece jacket is not suitable as your sole winter coat due to it’s penchant for absorbing water when it’s raining/snowing, the R3 was pretty impressive in frigid weather on dry days. On a hike up Grey Mountain outside of Whitehorse, I quickly shed my down coat and wore only the R3. It deterred the wind, kept my core quite warm and never felt heavy or damp as I began to sweat. It handled the blustery conditions in Carcross, YT, as well, despite the chill coming off of Bennett Lake.

A quick look at the pros and cons of the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece:


  • Wind-proof
  • Incredibly warm
  • Durably crafted
  • Plush interior wicks away moisture
  • Lightweight and breathable


  • Snug fit depending on your shoulder width and torso length

Overall, I highly recommend the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket if you are looking for a well-crafted fleece that can handle particularly low temperatures. It may be warmer than you need if you don’t anticipate dealing with below-freezing temperatures where you live or during your travels. At $200, it’s reasonably priced for how stellar a jacket it is and would be a wise purchase for anyone who is planning a winter filled with outdoor activities.

The Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece is available on the company’s website and at many outdoor gear suppliers.

“Ghost Ship” of the Yukon found

The shipwreck of a gold rush-era steamboat that sunk in a lake located in the Yukon Territory of Canada has been recently discovered and photographed for the first time according to this story from National Geographic. The boat went down in a storm back in 1901, and was found by salvage crew in October of 2008.

The ship, known as the A.J. Goddard, is said to be sitting upright in the water and in remarkably good condition. How good you ask? Apparently it settled to the bottom of the lake with firewood still in the boiler and tools still in place on deck where the crew had left them. There were even five sets of boots still in place where the crew tossed them aside before abandoning ship.

Nautical archeologists are now studying the vessel intently, saying that it is a “snapshot” of what life was like aboard these boats at the turn of the 20th Century. Finding a wreck that is as preserved as the Goddard is a rare and remarkable find, that will no doubt offer some interesting insights into the daily lives of sailors.