Maine winter downhill snow sliding, and learning tricks to increase the speed.
As a Maine kid, using the area terrain in the back yard or as far away as a parent would go and spend an afternoon. Bundled up, nice and warm. Your brothers, sisters, all the neighborhood kids, cousins and school mates part of the winter sliding experience.
Years ago, World War Two vintage sliders would rave about steel runner sleds.
Speed this, flyer that named winter contraptions of the era. Wooden slats on two rails. With a cross piece in the front designed to swerve in either direction with a little push, pull. Gripped by hands if sliding face down, flat on your stomach. Or maneuvered with your feet if sitting up.
And the stories of damage icy snow crust could cause in scrapes, abrasions to the exposed skin. The dark slide of sliding from old timers remembering what can happen on a down hill snow course if your sled up ended. Became upside down before the hill ran out. Caught on something not so smooth on the trail and caused to stop, tumble after you get airborne. Over the years, lots of household items and skies the limit for expense snow sliding sleds, space ships rides and flying saucer devices out there.
My four Maine kids started snow sliding down the east hill top lawn at the Houlton Maine Wesleyan Church. The church used to be the commons for Ricker College students and now has lots of left over campus in spots around it. Ideal for an inner town, family safe down hill course for beginning snow sliders.
But after you leave your kid’s own back yard, it is time for more adventure to fill the need for speed. My kids graduated to The Steep. A pretty much total vertical incline, straight down from an eight year old’s perspective. They had heard grandfather’s tales of steel runner sleds. Rocket fast, used on town streets shut down to winter traffic. And barely kept clear of snow, no pavement showing. Accessed only by kids and the folks who lived in the Houlton Maine houses along the extra wide luge course.
But The Steep had exposed, imposing looking ledge out croppings at the bottom of the course.
The first thing a heavily multiple layered Maine snow sledder spies, turning, taking the end of course corner. For a warm up still image not to be forgotten. Of the explosive end to the snow sledding maiden voyage into the great unknown. Wide eye witnessed, wearing hand made wool hand knit mittens, matching hats loaded with small snow ice crystals. Gathered, produced from the earlier warm up yard runs with the new Christmas sled at home. The Steep, local Maine Olympics of the down hill snow slide courses seen out frosted family sedan rear windows as it downshifts to a lower, more powerful gear. As the noisy kid shrill animated collection of voices suddenly hush in unison on the ascent.
The red cheeks caused from filling lungs with clean, fresh Maine winter air planes a restless, pent up kid out. Exercise can be fun and creative and is always outdoors any of Maine’s seasons. Winter in Maine is not the horror someone that has never been here shares. You know the tall tales about 20 minutes of daylight all winter. Heaped with sharp edged talk about months of negative 300 degree weather. Traffic pretty much 99% dog sleds in the winter. Maine housing stock of igloos. And polar bears as plentiful as black fly swarms they warn.
Come slide down a hill in Maine.
Remember what being a kid, feeling young and excited again is all about through your child’s or grandchild’s eyes. Sliding up and down hill and dale on something with a motor and track working in combination with the skis is okay too. Or just sitting on an aluminum, plastic flying saucer or a piece of vinyl carpet. WARNING: Sliding is the entry level outdoor Maine winter gateway drug that leads to a skiing cross country or downhill healthy addiction habit too.
The lodge hot, crackling, dancing flame open fireplaces or cabin wood heater warms the bones after whatever form of sliding you graduate to. As wet melting snow outer garments coats, pants, boots, socks, hats, gloves, scarfs and mittens are shed. And overloaded platters of grilled sandwiches, piping hot soup and chowders are escorted to the Maine family dinner table. As epic reruns of slightly exaggerated hill runs are broadcast, passed around the room. Maine, make memories, most of them outdoors in Vacationland.