Fun Day At the Sledding Hill
For an activity so very simple, sledding sure creates a lot of fun memories. Sometimes it's the fun, fast run where everything goes just right; other times, it's the story you get when things go hilariously wrong.
I'll never forget when a friend and I shared toboggan space on a tame children's sledding hill -- no big deal for a couple of adults, right? Well our steering plans went wrong, and for some reason I was the only one that noticed we were heading off the side of the hill and into the trees.
"Abandon sled!" I shouted to my buddy, but apparently what he heard was "Go faster!" So he leaned forward to speed us up and, in a misguided show of loyalty, I decided to ride the sled into the trees with him instead of bailing out. Any sane person would avoid this, of course. But we got lucky, spilling out of the toboggan comic-book style, and haven't stopped laughing since.
Ready for your own fun day at the sledding hill? Here's how to get started:
Dress in warm winter layers of wool, polyester, fleece or other wicking fabrics. Avoid cotton at all costs because if it gets wet (with snow or sweat), it'll actually make you colder instead of keeping you warm. Wear a good set of snow or ski pants and jacket over everything else. If you're going to be sledding, you should be warm enough to feel comfortable when you walk back up the hill; you can always unzip your jacket for a little extra ventilation. If you're just watching, put on an extra layer so you'll stay cozy.
Where to Sit
If you put multiple people in one sled in deep snow, the heavier person should go in the back. Otherwise you risk the response my aforementioned friend and I got at another sledding hill. "Wow! You guys looked just like the space shuttle on reentry," a young friend told us in awed tones, after my significantly-larger-than-me buddy sat in front and leaned forward, causing the nose of the toboggan to sink down and send up an impressive cone of flying snow all around us.
Where to Sled
Start with easy sledding hills -- manageable slopes, zero obstacles -- on fluffy snow, so that bailing out will be fun instead of painful. You can work your way up to steeper, longer and more exciting hills as you build confidence and figure out where your comfort zone lies. Always, always check the bottom of the sledding hill to make sure there are no obstacles you might run into before you slide to a stop.
Now get out there and enjoy! And while extreme hills can be lots of fun, don't overlook the smaller hills too -- especially when in good company. Bring a Thermos of hot cocoa or coffee and snacks with you, and you'll be the most popular person on the sledding hill. Just remember that if the person behind you starts hollering that you should bail out, you might want to do what she says.
Find more helpful articles for making the most of your day at the sledding hill by the author below.
Troubleshooting cold toes
How to dress in layers
Keepings your hands, feet and head warm
Article written by Lisa Maloney
Lisa Maloney is the Hiking Expert at About.com