The Simple Joys of Sledding

by Taylor Mardis Katz February 02, 2019
ReadThe Simple Joys of Sledding Photo by Maddy Baker

Snow days were my religion in middle school: I prayed for them, I sang for them, I performed strange rituals, like wearing my pajamas inside out and backward (and asking my family members to do this same), all in the hopes that I’d get to stay home from school and enjoy the snow.

When I was 10 years old, there was a huge blizzard that closed school for days. In my memory, the whole world stopped going to work, going to school, and doing the regular tasks of everyday life. Instead, everyone went outside into the snow. There was so much snow that people weren’t driving, and we got to go sledding in the middle of the road—and not just any road, but Pleasant Avenue, a steep road that intersected with my street and was anything but pleasant to walk up.

Sledding down Pleasant Avenue was a combination of terrifying and blissful. The sled flew down the piled snow and made me scream with delight. That day, we spent hours trudging up the long, steep hill and then soaring down it in mere seconds. There were no cars to be seen, except for the ones parked all around us, drenched in a foot of puffy, white snow, and at the end of the day, I walked home exhausted and ecstatic, having just enjoyed an unthinkably perfect snow day.

How to go sledding

First step: gear up. I always forget how much snow flies into my face while sledding and how often I end up bailing and rolling my whole body into the snow. I like to gear up with a ski coat, snow pants, a thick scarf, warm gloves, and a well-fitted hat that won’t fly off easily as I zoom down the slopes.

I like lightweight sleds with room for two people, as it’s double the fun to experience a good ride with someone else.

Choose a hill based on a sense of how much speed you can handle. I would not choose my hometown’s Pleasant Avenue these days because I no longer have the need for speed that I did as a kid. I prefer a nice long ride with a medium slope so that I’m moving fast enough for it to be fun but slow enough to enjoy it.

If no one has gone sledding at your selected spot yet (lucky you!), you’re going to have to be a trailblazer, which means your first few rides will be somewhat slow, as you’ll be packing down the snow.

Once the trail has been established, you’re ready to enjoy hours of fun and a healthy dose of cardio as you trudge back up that sledding hill.

Every time I reach the top of the hill, I like to pause, catch my breath, and look at the snow-capped world around me. From where I live in Vermont, the winter landscape is filled with puffing chimneys, snowy mountaintops, and hillsides of trees. Sledding is a simple joy—a free activity that’s fun for all ages and offers me another opportunity to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the winter season.

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