Photo taken by Patrick O’Meara
We finally got snow!! Our last substantial amount was November 27, 2011; fall last year, if you want to get technical. It came and went so fast back then that it didn’t occur to me that I needed to take full advantage of it while I could. I told myself that if we do finally get snow I wasn’t going to let it melt away without getting in it. Despite having a nagging, multiple day migraine, today Pat, the twins and I put on our snow clothes and headed out to our favorite snow hill. I have been sledding at Gier Community Center since I was an infant. We would walk over from my aunt’s house and sled into the evening. When I started going to school at Gier, fellow classmates and I would meet over there before and after school and any possible weekend as well. We would sled on anything too; cardboard, each other, sheets of metal. I can remember running toboggans down that hill and metal railed wooden sleds. I remember one year my dad got skis and my brother Walter, Mike Apostle and I walked over and took turns downhill skiing. It’s the only downhill skiing I’ve ever done. We would build ramps and berms to increase the entertainment value of the activity. We would add obstacles and challenges as well. Sledding to us was an unofficial Olympic event. There was a natural skill set involved with great sledding. Anyone can carry a sled to the top of the hill, sit down, then proceed to zig-zag to the middle of the hill and explode in a pile of legs, arms, snow, and an overturned sled. To me the real skill, the true talent is creating the perfect trail and artfully riding that trail to the farthest edges of the hill; ride it to the sparkling, untouched snow, much like a surfboarder rides the wave from crest to shore. Here are my hints for creating the perfect sledding trail.
Create a trail-Use the smoothest sled with the heaviest person. Have them inch their way down the hill as far as they can. Get off sled, move a few steps off that path, climb to the top and do it again; and again; and again. After doing this a certain number of times and real path will begin to form.
Try to stay on trail-when sledding try to balance your body and even lightly use your hands to stay inside this track. Depending on the weather this track could even become icy and extremely fast.
Stay off the trail-if you are not on a sled do not walk on this trail. The footsteps and even other sled tracks disrupt the smoothness of your new trail.
Repair trail-If someone happens to try your new trail and falls off mid way, uses a foot to slow down, or any other activities that add pot holes to your perfectly smooth trail, just start over by going down the trail with a smooth sled as many times as you can carry your tired body up the hill.
This is my hardest one
Share your trail-After putting in all that work others will soon see that your sledding is far superior to theirs and want to try your hill and enjoy it as well. Be patient as most people don’t see sledding as an unofficial Olympic sport and will soon think you are crazy for constantly asking them to not walk on your trail. If this happens count to ten and make a snow angel, far away from the youngsters who might want to jump on its head.
If you find that your trail has been confiscated by a sea of untrained children, just start over. It’s not like you have anything better to do, right?
Once you’ve created, enjoyed, repaired and re-enjoyed that perfect sledding hill and your path is the farthest (not because you are the only adult sledding) trail, then you’ve earned the right, when you finally catch your breath at the top of the hill after the 100th time climbing up, to do the champion fist pumping motion, because you have truly become a sledding artist.
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