October 31, 2014

Eye on the Trail: Monica Zappa

Monica Zappa is taking her 24-hour layover in McGrath. The space and hospitality of the checkpoint make that wise choice. Zappa who’s been around mushing all her life says that some parts of the gorge made her fearful, “My mouth was dry and I needed a drink of water. When we’d get wedged by a tree or when I could hook my snow hook to a tree, I’d pause and take a drink and even pray a little. The dogs listened very well but covered the steep parts of the tail at a pretty good clip. There was no way to use a hook to stop with all the ice. The only way to stay stopped was to hook onto a tree.”

Earlier Monica was consulting with scratched veteran musher, Karen Ramstead about snow hooks. Ramstead offered Monica her spare from a sled she had shipped to McGrath. Monica’s hook looks a little (a lot) the worse for wear from the run down the gorge and through the snowless burn. One of the prongs is bent to such an angle that it’s now impossible to “set” the hook.

During the late hours of the morning, Monica was out feeding, massaging and stretching the dogs who were happy on all accounts for the attention.

Zappa’s fund raising efforts were aided by the students of the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. At the beginning of the school year the 3rd grade students at Gilman School in Jen Reiter’s classroom asked Zappa what she was most afraid all. She responded – Cold Feet. Reiter’s students created a business plan for a fundraised of making and selling bracelets. The sale was a huge success so not only did the boys provide Monica with money to purchase 26 pair of warm wicking socks they had enough left over to provide a few hundred booties for the dogs. While you may not ever actually see Zappa’s socks, you’re likely to see her dogs in bright green booties.

Zappa will complete her 24-hour rest at just after 2:00 in the morning and will then be on her way to Takotna with well-rested and spunky dog team.