Life on the Yukon River
Matt Hall was born and raised in the Bush of Alaska in the small town of Eagle, located along the Yukon River. Raised by his parents, Wayne and Scarlett Hall, he was immersed immediately into a life with sled dogs. He had a very sweet, yet modest upbringing, relying on the family's sled dogs for transportation, income, sport and companionship. Everything at the Hall residence was centered around their Alaskan Huskies.
Meet the hall's
Wayne and Scarlett Hall's interest in sled dogs sparked when a neighbor asked them to look after their dogs while out of town. Scarlett was immediately hooked, ironically it took some time for Wayne himself to jump on the back of the runners. Wayne's fascination with animals soon got the best of him and he hooked up a team for a test drive. From then on out, the Hall's took to the trail via dog teams. Wayne eventually ended up getting the racing itch and competed in the Yukon Quest three times. He was the first musher in history to complete the Yukon Quest 1,000 with all 14 dogs. The family has owned and operated their own tour company, Bush Alaska Expeditions, for many years.
Scarlett Hall has managed the Eagle Checkpoint in the Yukon Quest for 20+ years. When Matt was just a young boy, he would help his mother by parking dog teams as they pulled in and would hand the teams straw. Hall had great admiration for the mushers as they came in off the 1,000-mile trail and remembers dreaming about wanting to be "just like them when he grows up."
Born on a dogsled...
Matt has been on the back of a sled ever since he was four years old. By the time he was old enough to control his own 8-dog team, his father would take him out to work their traplines. During this time of year the family would bunker down in a dry cabin located on top of American Summit. The trails in this area were some of the most technical trails they would see, forcing them to run their dogs in single file in order for them to fit down the extremely narrow, snow swept paths. Not only were the trails difficult, but Mother Nature was also a force to be reckoned with in the heart of the frozen North and father & son would experience her test of survival skills on more than one occasion. Many a time, an emergency shelter would be quickly fashioned due to unforeseen weather, forcing Wayne & Matt to bunker down on the trail to wade out the storm. Matt was 12-years old the first time this happened.
Once the trapping season was over, they would mush 15 miles back to the town of Eagle with their 40-dogs, then 6-miles over the frozen Yukon River and a mile through the woods to reach home. Here, all of their fruits of labor from the summer and fall months of preparation would be in order. The harvest from the garden would be canned or pickled and set aside in the pantry; the moose and caribou--quartered, hung out and tenderized; the fish that they all worked so hard to harvest out of the Yukon River with their wooden fish wheel would be cut and hung to dry as winter provisions for the dogs.
Matt was about 7-years old when his parents started Bush Alaska Expeditions. When he was 16, he was one of their main tour guides, chauffeuring his passengers through the cold backcountry of Alaska, down jumbled ice trails and overflow of the Yukon River.
Shown here is Matt's cabin that he built in Eagle when he was 16-years old.
The Original 8 & the birth of Smokin' Ace Kennels
Smokin' Ace Kennels was started back in 2008 with Matt's first litter of 8 Alaskan Huskies. This was when a true leader was born. Not only regarding Matt's exceptional ability to see the individual dog in a pack of dogs and his practical mind set that allows him to see the trail's end at the start of each new journey, but his main lead dog Keeper was born. The two would become inseparable during the many years of training to follow. The litter of 8, most of which are still racing with Hall to this day, were born and raised in the Bush in some of the best training conditions a musher could ask for. This proved to be invaluable experience come Quest time, when Keeper time and time again, led the team over dangerous open leads of the Yukon, no questions asked. Keeper is now a Golden Harness winner and will go down in history with Hall's first Championship run in the 2017 Yukon Quest.
2014 -- Hall's First Yukon Quest-1,000
2014 was Hall's rookie run in the Yukon Quest. At this time, he was the youngest musher in the line-up and finished the race placing 3rd. He proudly walked away with a handful of awards including Rookie of the Year, Spirit of the North and the Veterinarian's Choice Award. Matt was extremely proud of earning the latter achievement, for it exemplifies his sentiment to the sport--the humane care and respect he has for his canine companions. 2014 was a successful race season for a number of reasons, but mainly because Hall reached his first goal with his kennel--to cross the 1,000-mile finish line of the Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World, The Yukon Quest.
2017 Yukon quest champions
2017 marked a childhood dream come true--Matt had won the Championship title in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest. He finished the race on February 14th in 10 days 1 hour and 7 minutes. It was his second attempt going in the Whitehorse - Fairbanks direction. His two lead dogs, Anchor & Keeper were awarded Golden Harnesses and all dogs were given steak and roses at the finish line.