Iditarod 2012: Ray Redington, Jr., Hugh Neff First Into Rainy Pass

Ray Redington, Jr., was the first musher into Rainy Pass, the fourth checkpoint on the 2012 Iditarod trail, and at almost 3,800-feet , the highest point on the famous sleddog race. Redington, the 36-year-old grandson of Iditarod co-founder Joe Redington, checked in at 1:02 p.m. EST with 16 dogs. He was followed by Hugh Neff, fresh off a win at the Yukon Quest, just three minutes later.

Both mushers immediately set out with their top priority at checkpoints: The dogs.

Unfortunately, some animals had gotten into the food and his bags were both ripped open. Both teams parked right next to each other. I could not help but notice that Hugh was very efficient -- amazingly focused, his team bedded down long before Ray. While Ray walked back and forth a few times to put down the straw, Hugh had that done in one simple step. He gave each of his dogs a snack before going to work on his team.

Redington and Neff were part of a group of five mushers that arrived in Finger Lake within a 25-minute span, along with defending champion John Baker and four-time winner Lance Mackey. The run from Finger Lake to Rainy Pass is just 30 miles, but treacherous, as it features the infamous Happy River Steps:

Fingerlake Checkpoint from Art Aldrich on Vimeo.

Mackey was the first out of Finger Lake, but was passed along the way at some point.

After Rainy Pass, the mushers make their way along the 32 mile-stretch to Rohn, a site that marks one of the original Iditarod roadhouses for dogs carrying mail.

Oh, and if you were wondering, the temperature in Rainy Pass as of this posting: -9, with a windchill of -21.

Coverage of the 2012 Iditarod, including current standings, can be found on the official website.

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