Sledding Train

If you’ve ever gone sleigh riding with a group of people or a bunch of siblings, then you know what a “train” means. I grew up in a family of 7 kids, so sleigh riding was serious business. We all had those snowmobile boots with thick black rubber soles, super stiff thinsulation, and waterproof polyester/vinyl sides like all the kids in the 70’s and early 80’s had. We weren’t allowed to use the snowmobile though to give us rides up the hill because it defeated the purpose of sending us outside to get rid of our energy, because then we behaved better when we went back into the house from the sheer exhaustion. But after a couple of trips down the hill free style, someone would always yell, “TRAIN!” Time to get your game face on. Whether your train was an extensive horizontal side by side line, or one long vertical line with one sled in front of the other, the object was to take off down the hill simultaneously and keep the train connected so that nobody got left behind. In order to stay connected like a train, you held the string from someone else’s sled in your hand and put your feet in the sled behind you, and the person behind you grabbed your feet, aka snowy, hard sole boots and never let go, no matter how fast or bumpy the ride got. This always ended in a train wreck, where the back sleds made of unforgiving, rigid plastic went right up over top of the front sleds, wiping out people as they go and using them to make their sled air born as they catapulted through the air. If your sled stopped short in front of someone, you just said a quick prayer and braced for impact. You never wanted to be in front of the runner sled with the blades, or the toboggan loaded with multiple siblings, because getting run over by either was sure to land you in the hospital. As we went down the hill, our normally sweet dog would run at us and bark and growl. Not sure what that was about, but that added extra drama. If your train started to derail with one of the sleds going faster than the other around the sled in front of it, you had to hold on for all you were worth to keep the train together. If that meant pulling your arm out of your socket or twisting someone’s leg 360 degrees as the sleds picked up speed and went in the wrong direction, then so be it…just don’t let go. Sometimes you’d wind up pulling your sister’s boot right off from the force of the collision, but you never let go! Success was defined by remaining attached, even if the end result was a huge 7 car pile up at the end. Then it was time to grab your sled, knock your dislocated shoulder back into place, find your boot and make the long cold walk back up the mountain to do that again. Sometimes we’d “push” someone down the steep hill so they’d go faster by running almost the full length of the hill down with them and shoving them towards the jumps as hard as possible. Then there were times where they would throw footballs at you as you sled down the hill, and you either learned real quick how to catch them or they’d hit you square in the back or upside the head. Good times!! Don’t you miss being young and able to take a hit from multiple sleds and not break a hip or anything?

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