It's 21:15 and we're lining up for our second dinner of the night. We'll need it. Tomorrow will be a good test.
We've just come from our first meeting. They take the time to introduce everyone and tell where they are from. We also met the couple who started RRH Leila and Vaino Voutilainen, they will be skiing for the 25th time.
Some 331 skiers from arond the world will participate in the 25th RRH. In our first wave there are over 80 of us from 14 countries. Even a woman from Japan and a man from Spain have come to this remarkable opportunity. At least that's how we are thinking now.
Weather will be cold in the morning at -23 degrees celsius. We have been warned to watch out for frostbite on ourselves and our skiing companions. We have to plan for a long ski too, 61 kilometers with no aid station until the 20 k mark. It's also expected to be colder down near the river where we will ski to in the morning. I heard there's also a long climb.
We were also told to stay in the track and not make a right turn when we get to the Russian border. These folks are fun. Jaako is called the "snow grasshopper" and Jukka says if we aren't off the track by 17:00, "the wolves come running."
I'm using my no-wax Salomon's but we put a fresh coat of wax on the tips and tails. Ron was hard at work in the wax room.
It was so good to see Georgeanne and Mike. They, too, have had an eventful time traveling with lots of stories they will share in this blog.
Jeff Shipkey and Kelly Stahl are still on their way. Their skis didn't arrive with them in Helsinki so they stayed behind to make sure they could get their skis. We will wait for them before we go to bed so they will feel welcomes. We've met some more Americans from Idaho, Montana, and Minnesota.
I feel as excited as a kid at Christmas anticipating all that's ahead. I hope to sleep off this last bit of road weariness tonight. We have single bunks and Ron and I were lucky to be put in a room together. Lyle and Any were separated into a boy's and girl's cabin. I think they'll find a way to sneak out and snooze together. Always something for us to laugh about.
Years back when Eryka was little she accused me of thinking "Skiing is more important than school." To this day I believe it is and my reasoning is still the same. The most precious places on this planet you must ski to see!
Tomororw at 7:45 we begin.