Thanks to the awesome weather - meaning abundant snowfall and consistent below-freezing temps - the result is a fabulous snowpack this winter for x-country skiing, back-country skiing, snowshoeing, riding 'sleds' (the official Delaware County term for 'snowmobiles'; if you hang with with Sarah Palin, you'd call them 'snowmachines'), and of course good 'ole fashion downhill sledding! Those of us with kids ( I have two youngsters) have a great excuse to act like kids in the snow - by going sledding of course.
Growing up my brother and I used my father's huge, old-school wooden toboggan. Yes, that's right- one of those six-foot long things with the alternating black and natural wood color boards - complete with the curl on the front.
We never could get it going very fast, unless of course the hill had about a 60-degree slope or we had that nice coating of crusty, icy stuff under the powder. With the conditions being like they are out there today and predicted for tonight, I think tomorrow might just be a perfect day for tobogganing.
Don't have one? Well neither do I anymore. I wish I did because my 6'4" frame would fit much better on that than it does on these plastic sleds of today. I now have to get more creative in ways to go sledding so that my 4 year old doesn't get disappointed in me. Remember the sledding scene in Christmas Vacation? That is what I feel like. I must now become the Clark W. Griswold and find not only the perfect Xmas tree, but also the "food-grade cereal shellac" that will surely make me the King of the Hill in my little guys' eyes.
Sleds come in so many variations today, but what I have discovered is they all work well under the ideal conditions they are made for. If the hill isn't steep enough, the snow not wet enough, or the sledder is not light enough, then it all comes down to one thing - track/route preparation.
Despite the wishes of the 4-year-old, take the time to prepare....make a few trial runs to pack down the track. Start with the lightest weight person and build up to that 6'4" 220-pounder - especially when constructing/packing down the jump at the end!
Taking the time to experiment and prepare is the key, but I also bring a couple different sleds. You have to work up to that Cadillac - start with old reliable first to warm things up....then bring out the big guns for the big fun.
How do you know when your sledding sled run is officially 'groomed' to perfection?
When you can successfully go body-sledding!
Get out there...enjoy the food-grade cereal shellac that Mother Nature has provided for us in the Western Catskills......its great for your heart, and all natural you know.
Aaron & Hudson Bennett