Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude

One thousand snow and ice-covered miles. Frigid temperatures and winds. Twenty-three people. More than 300 dogs.

THAT PRETTY MUCH sums up the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, which begins on February 6.

Now in its 27th year, the Yukon Quest is less famous than the Iditarod, but no less easy. The trail covers more than 1,000 miles between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, which is located in Canada’s Yukon Territory. It takes mushers more than two weeks to cover the course, which follows the historic Gold Rush and mail delivery dogsled routes that were used at the turn of the 20th century.

Each musher travels with 8 to 14 dogs, which are meticulously cared for by veterinarians located at five “Dog Drops” and 10 checkpoints along the course.

This year, those who are interested in visiting the trail themselves can do so using an interactive flyover map from Google Earth or by following along with a live tracking system.

Last year’s winner Sebastian Schnuelle will not be competing this year, but Hugh Neff, who placed second by only four minutes in 2009, is back on the trail as is Lance Mackey, who won the race in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

So what are the spoils for the musher who crosses the finish line first? After more than two weeks of sleepless nights and brutal weather, the first-place team will receive U.S. $28,395.

Community Connection:

If you’re looking for your own winter adventure, check out this 5-day winter itinerary in Montana.