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Thursday, January 29, 2009


It's really obvious I need to write about something fun.  After a long series of serious posts about this and that and technical stuff and automotive stuff, well...let's just say some levity is in order. 



So, given that it's winter and even the southern states are taking a beating, well, let's first accept the fact that we can't do anything about the weather, and in that acceptance, we can find the fun that it is. 

I'm an avid skier, although I can't afford it these days, and I've never been out West, sadly.  :-( 

But I have great memories, and they go back to playing in the snow as a child.  And let's face it...our "horror stories" are the best to tell.  Like the one about the flood that happened while we were sledding in a dangerous area. 

There's another I don't think I've written about, though.  

After my family moved to Minnesota, we didn't get to do a lot of sledding, because, suddenly, we lived In Town.  (That's how we thought of it, capitalized like a title).  

In Town, there were SOME hills...but they were pathetic. Not worth our time.  They were bumps and it wasn't worth dragging a toboggan or sled or carrying it over pavement to get to six-foot (in length) "hill" that bordered a soccer field. 

The good thing was, though, that our uncle was a Park Ranger, and because they lived out at the local State Park, they also had access to great winter recreation...including the simplicity of sledding. 

I was  in maybe 9th grade (so about 14 or so) when we went out to Scrambler Hill on a dark winter evening under a full moon.  

We had to snowmobile to get there as it wasn't a hill accessable by driving.  So we dragged our sleds behind us as we slowly moved through the trails, untill we met the Queen of all sledding hills everywhere. 

This hill had started out nearly flat, with a drop down to the next landing, then to the next and next.  At the bottom was what in skiing terms we called a "compression", which basically means that it flattens quickly and causes the g-forces to press upward.  Not a big deal in hiking, but a HUGE deal when moving at a fast speed!  Compressions KILL ski racers, and I mean that literally.  If they can't "absorb" the compression, they are flung into the air in really creative ways by gravity.  

Back to Scrambler:  in winters where there was a lot of snow, it wasn't a big deal.  It was ALWAYS a fun and challenging hill, but it wasn't necessarily dangerous. 

Well, THAT winter there hadn't been a lot of snow, so of course Scrambler Hill was quite..uh...bumpy.  

That evening, I remember climbing onto the plastic orange toboggan behind my cousin, who was a freshman in college.  Neither of us remembered that thing being so small.  Didn't we used to be able to fit at LEAST 3 of us on it?  

Well, apparently not anymore. 

She sat in front, I was in the back as we stared down this killer hill, the Hannenkam of Sledding.

Without a second thought, we pushed off, hit the first bump, screamed as we went airborn and came down on the slope, hit the second, screamed and went airborne again, and just as we hit the compression at the bottom, diving nose-first into the compression, I remember flying over my cousin. I remember her head striking my knees while I was still weightless, and then I plowed head-first into the thin, now-icy snow at the bottom of the drop. 

I laid there a moment, confused as to how I'd gotten there.  My neck hurt. My forehead had plowed a furrow into the ground, which thankfully allowed me to be able to breathe.  

My cousin was getting up, with her friend helping her. They were laughing, and it seemed so far away. I wanted to get up, too.  But I'd hit hard, head-first.  I knew that was bad.  

I had a sudden, panicked thought:  what if I never walked again?  What if my neck was broken?  

In my panic, I put my hands under me, thrilled they moved, and thought to myself even before the cloud of impending darkness cleared away, "If I don't stand up RIGHT NOW I'll NEVER walk AGAIN!" 

And so I pushed upward, scrambling to my feet, just as one of the guys was asking, "Are you OK?" 


I couldn't see for a moment, and wondered how long I'd be able to stand. 

Thankfully, by then we were out of time, and decided to head back to the house.  We trudged back up the hill and mounted our snowmobiles, leaving the toboggans there to be picked up the next day via snowcat.  

When we got back to the house, both my cousin and I were quiet.  She was a nursing student, so was a bit more aware of what could have happened than I, and insisted on checking my pupils, as she'd asked her mother to do when we'd gotten home.  

It seems we were fine...but lucky.  

But I'll never forget that feeling of weightlessness, just before plowing head-first with all my force into the snowpack, and the moment of wondering if I'd never walk again. 

Now that I think of it...I think that's the last time I ever went sledding.  



P.S.  Years later I started downhill skiing and got into racing...wanna talk about SERIOUS crashes?   Dang, I'm happy to be alive! 
What's YOUR story?


Banshee said...

We never had enough snow for sledding unless it was too deep and soft for it (the kind that piles up in front of the sled and creates a mini-wall) -- but that was okay, because we also had no suitable hills in my area. We usually used our sled as a sort of snow travois.

OTOH, the first time I rode my bike out on the street, I fell off and probably concussed myself. Nothing like having to stay awake all night in the hospital with nothing to do and no pain meds....

Anonymous said...

The one story I have is very similar to yours, but it involved my sister. I had just gotten a sort of snowboard (before snowboards were really popular). Essentially, it was a very short, fat ski with a rope attached to the front to help you maintain your balance. It was obviously made for one person, but both my sister and I had gotten pretty good at going downhil seperately so we thought it would be cool to try it tandem. So, I jumped on the front and she right behind me holding on to me while I held the rope. We attempted the trip down the hill several times before actually making it to the bottom, but when we did, we realized that the bottom was essentially the icy snow that nobody likes. We hit it hard and both of us flew off. My sister landed pretty much with a skid across her face! Of course, immediately she was crying and I was freaking out about what Mom and Dad would say. We grabbed the sled and she cried pretty much the entire three or four blocks back to our house and for the next few weeks had the marks of that fall.

Thankfully, we both laugh about our stupidity today!

Anonymous said...

Maureen ~ Oh, yeah, those bike falls are pretty bad!

Wayne ~ Yeah, my brother and I tried crazy things like that, too. And for some reason, I was always the one who ended up crying! lol Big brothers are NOT healthy for little sisters. :-)

Scarlett said...

Mine wasn't so bad for me, but it wasn't pretty for my cousin (though not nearly as dangerous as yours). We'd been sledding all afternoon - our parents were there, too - then we decided to layer *3* of us on the same snow tube. My cousin was the biggest of us, so she went on the bottom, and I laid on top of her, and my sister, I think, laid on top of me, and we were off, but near the bottom, the tube hit ice, but at such an angle, I guess, that it stopped short instead of sliding over it. We kept going when the tube stopped, though, and because my cousin was on the bottom, her face hit the ice, and because we were on top of her, it got ground into the ice by our weight. She ended up with some very unpleasant looking scabbing, but luckily no scars or permanent damage.

Hidden One said...

My story's not so extreme... let's just say that flipped GTs can make reasonable ramps for other GTs and, when in trouble on a sled, I have a strong "Bail!" instinct. Nothing broken, no scars.

Anonymous said...

Scarlett ~ I'd say that's pretty bad! After all, I walked away with really no injury (very very very lucky!). No scabs!

Hidden One - GT?

Lillian Marie said...

Oh, have I a skiing story for you - but it will have to wait until we see each other again. Too funny to write - better when described in person.

Let's just say - mix between 1st skiing of the season, bathroom break, and broken leg.

Anonymous said...

When my dad works on snow removal,(we live on a farm), he always piles the snow that he clears on an empty plot of land. And it is a lot. and I mean a LOT.(2 miles of road) So me and our neighbors always go sledding down it. It is a MOUNTAIN, and huge. And since my cousins got a four-wheeler, we tie an empty grain bin lid to the back with braided twine, and we pull each other. We have a BLAST!

Adoro said...

LM ~ You can't do that to me! You can't drop a story like that and just hope I can get there in person to hear it! UNFAIR! lol

Anon ~ That sounds like a BLAST! I can just imagine it! Can I come! :-)

Paul said...

Great Story,
Although Montana is a mountain state, most of the state is actually high plains. not necessarily flat... the other problem is that when it snows, the wind also blows, and then we have -30 F followed by chinook winds that melt all the snow, so it wasn't a sledding paradise where I lived.

There was however a large park in the center of town that had a creek running through it, and the park included a 'gully' (small steep valley), and there were many good sledding runs - when there was enough snow. When the sledding was good, there would be a pretty large crowd, because there just weren't that many good places to sled and Pioneer Park was by far the best.

I mentioned the crick? Some of the best (steepest) runs went straight to the crick. I was like most of the others over 8 years old, Mom or Dad just dropped me and some friends off with our sleds, and left us for a couple of hours. Someone always lost control and took a dump in the crick.

I have fond (now) memories of standing around in frozen solid, iced over clothes for an hour in 0 F weather waiting for my ride.

Lillian Marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Some of our best hills went into the crick (creek) too. One was called "seven-up" for years. No one knows who first called it that and everyone in Town older than 30 knows where you mean when you say that. It's all overgrown and most of the bottom of the hill has evaporated completely into the crick so it could never be sledded again. We LIVED around that hill all year 'round. We built forts in the trees surrounding it. We tried to ride our bikes down it. We had rolling races down it in the summer time (though only half way or we'd puke). In the winter, the top 10 yards were nearly impossible to mount but if you made it to the path (that led to my grandparent's farm...quickest way to get there on the old cow path from my house) at the top, you were in for a wild, narrow, steep ride with LOTS of bumps to kill your bottom. You had to be sure to aim right or you'd end up having to bail (the dang crick bed). There was plenty of space at the bottom for sitting there in shock, thanking God you made it, and resting for a bit before you had to jump out of the way for the next sledder and gather energy for the next drudge upward.
Thanks for the memories.