on the trail
Steve Rasmussen, 33, of Melrose, Minnesota,
finished fourth Tuesday afternoon in Montana's Race to the Sky, but he was
the first musher into the Holland Lake Lodge checkpoint Monday afternoon
and was honored with a gourmet meal for that distinction.
Standing by awaiting his arrival at 2:30 p.m. Monday was Chef John Gabriel
of Condon who had slaved over outdoor cooking gear preparing a meal of blackened
pork loin, rosemary potatoes, a ginger chicken stir fry, Cuban black bean
soup, Foccachia bread, and Tosca cafe for dessert.
Gabriel's wife, "Gabe," served her husband's gourmet offerings
to Rasmussen, his two handlers, and race coordinator Norman Lee of Seeley
Lake on a table set with formal place settings, a bottle of white Zinfandel
wine, and a burning candle for the final touch.
The meal had been prepared in a teepee tent with cooking gear supplied by
Eric Pack, also of Condon. The setting was familiar territory to Gabriel,
who this past summer cooked for an outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Mozart music played all morning before Rasmussen's arrival, soothing the
anxiety of several visitors and media people who had waited nearly three
hours for the musher who would be honored in a tradition borrowed from the
Alaskan Iditarod race, where the first musher to reach the half-way point
is treated to a gourmet meal.
Though Rasmussen was first in at Holland Lake, he actually trailed the second
musher in, Butch Parr of Whitefish, by six minutes when the staggered starts
at Lincoln were figured in.
But the rules say the first one in, regardless of times, so Rasmussen goes
back to Minnesota with a fourth-place finish overall, but a meal he'll always
remember, in the beautiful setting at Holland Lake.
Steve Rasmussen in first!
A sit-down, candlelight gourmet dinner is awarded Steve
Rasmussen and his handlers in honor of Steve arriving first at the halfway
point, the Holland Lake checkpoint in Montana's Race to the Sky sled dog
The Chef, John Gabriel,
of Condon Rasmussen
tests the soup.