Plummer’s Hollow by sled

Video link.

It’s cold. Nothing to do but pull on a thick balaclava, grab the sled, and go steaming up the hill to the top of what we call the amphitheatre, in the field opposite the main house. We have never actually staged anything there, by the way — it’s a little too boggy at the bottom where a stage would go. The only real drama occurs when the feral cat tangles with the opossum in the compost heap above the barn… or when a 42-year-old sledder comes careening down the path, camcorder in one hand.

It’s funny that sledding has such a stigma as being only for children. I’ve been sledding for most of the past 40 winters, at least 30 of them with the same sled, and I’m not about to switch to skiing or snowboarding, which I suspect are seen as adult sports primarily because they require lots of expensive gear. For one thing, I have a terrible sense of balance. Also, I wear glasses: when a friend lent me a pair of cross-country skis for a couple of years, I found myself unable to enjoy them because my glasses kept steaming up and freezing. I decided I prefer slow walking to running/gliding. And the great thing about sledding, after the hurtling, bone-rattling descent, is the peaceful walk back. Ravens flush from the top of a hemlock, filling the hollow with their harsh cries. The snow squeaks — such a satisfying sound — under my boots.

Long after I get back,
my frozen breath is still dripping
from my beard.

14 Replies to “Plummer’s Hollow by sled”

  1. My chemistry students start the year by contrasting physical change vs. chemical change. I think they’re going to get a quiz question next time: “Is ice melting from Dave’s beard: physical or chemical change?”

    I love the concept of exhaled water being the ‘smoke’ from our food combustion.
    O2 + C6H12O6 –> H2O + CO2.
    And I love the thought that the hydrogen atoms in the original food may have come from an ancient aquifer that resurfaced as corn irrigation, spent a summer in an ear of grain, and then spent a year or so in a mammal before being eaten by we sledders.

    I am also envious of the long-term stability represented by use of a single sled over multiple decades.

  2. I was bummed by being priced out of skiing, which used to be a perfectly affordable activity you did on a couple waxed boards with a bunch of other unfashionable geeks. Hurrah for sledding!

  3. Sounds like great fun, especially when you have your very own hill! Our young grandkids had fun in our sloping backyard when we had all that snow in December, when usually we’d have to drive up to the mountain and face crowded slopes. I lost interest in sledding when I hurt my tailbone badly on a rough patch.

    Cross-county skiing was fun and not too expensive back when we lived in gentle hilly country, but nowadays it’s too terrifying and challenging for me on the mountains around here.

  4. Kia ora Dave,
    That has to be the best sled run ever! And what an amazing looking sled. You had me pining for Wisconsin as we don’t get much sledding our way here in New Zealand, but man that reminded me of where I come from. The last time I used a sled was 1996 when I was home at Christmas and I still recall that day. Cheers!

  5. You were way down the hill before I realized I was smiling. Nice tour of your property – and frame-of-mind.

    I hadn’t listened to NIN since their first album. Good tune choice!

  6. Yay sledding! I’ve been skiing and snowboarding once each, and while perhaps with more dedication they would become fun for me, sledding was fun the first time and just gets better. We use little plastic Swiss Bobs – just the right weight and size to hike up and and then sled down a mountain. Don’t know if they’ll last 30 years, though.

  7. Wow, Dave. I smiled all the way through this, too. As I’ve always said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!” Buck looked at it and said, “You know, that boy still has a lot of puppy in him.” (Uh, in case you can’t tell, that’s HIGH praise. . .) Nifty video.

  8. Pretty cool… I just went to visit some snow up in Connecticut, but it was too cold to spend much time outside, even for the kids.

    I suspect the reason why most adults give up on sledding is less about “stigma” than durability — between the square-cube law and other details (q.v. “God loves fools, children, and drunkards”), children can take a crash that would seriously hurt an adult. (On the flip side, adults are more cautious when they do go sledding! q.v. Calvin and Hobbes….)

  9. That’s a long run! I was wondering how long you were going to keep going; that last thirty seconds looked challenging. Going off-road didn’t look like too much fun.

    I had a Radio Flyer for years — a good, short one that got bumped into kindling eventually. My old place at college had a fill wall that afforded a four-foot jump. What a great run that was! Currently, we have an okay hill, but we haven’t had any real snow this year. I love sledding, even at 51. I wouldn’t dream of stopping.

  10. Whoa! That’s one great sledding run!
    What a wonderful trip down the mountain.
    When I was young,
    we had a couple of nice toboggans
    and a big aluminum flying saucer
    with canvas strap handles.
    The saucer was great fun.
    I liked how it would spin around backwards
    and then you would be airborne for a
    second or two before zooming on
    down the hills.
    Now, if it would snow here this winter,
    I can tell you that from my place
    up here on the mountain,
    I could probably sled all the way
    down to Sierra Vista.
    It’s downhill all the way!

  11. Hey, thanks for all the comments! I’m glad you enjoyed watching this as much as i enjoyed filming it.

    One reader who is familar with the road emailed to say she wished I’d gone a little faster. it’s not as scarey as it looks.

    I do find it a little harder to sled now than i did fifteen years ago: going prone no longer feels too fun, and of course it’s a bit harder to maintain control sitting up.

    We did buy a new toboggan last year, ostensibly for my niece, so if the snow gets too deep for the sled we can use that.

  12. That’s only half way, huh? You’ve no idea how impressive this to one with memories -all too few- of very, very short sled runs and coaxing it over the bumps where the snow was already melting.

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