You saw what? Hallucinations are a staple of the Yukon Quest trail

By Laura Stickells | February 3, 2020

CIRCLE CITY, ALASKA – Mushers stumbled into the Circle City checkpoint dizzy from the previous 50 miles of Birch Creek trail, which is known for being winding, never-ending and cold.

YQ300 musher Sean Underwood said he even experienced short, five- or six-second hallucinations, a common experience on the trail as mushers become sleep-deprived. People in the checkpoint gathered around to hear his story.

“I was in and out of consciousness and it would usually happen right when I would wake up out of nowhere…

“I was looking at the wheel dogs and with the white background with the trail and the river it looked like they were climbing into a keyhole of a white truck… They had gotten their front half of their body in the keyhole and they were trying to get their hind legs in there.”

He had another vision in which the dogs looked like his girlfriend staring back at him, resting her head on her hand.

Once he passed a tree and thought it was his mom, and sometimes he’d confuse the rim of his parka hood as a cliff inches from the sled.

“It was honestly kind of entertaining,” he said.

Underwood slept for 30 minutes in the mushers room before heading back down Birch Creek toward the finish in Central.

Quest Notebook: Local students gets involved

The children at the Circle City school made a poster for each Yukon Quest musher. The 15 posters were hung around the Fire Hall. Some were decorated with drawings as well.

Chase Tingle’s poster had a large sled drawn next to his name with the words “dog sled” written next to it and an arrow pointing toward the picture to avoid confusion.