Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Extreme Sledding, Central Park

"We should get style points for that," cried Tim, as our sled spun a 360, and we watched the man we had nearly run over gracefully leap over our heads.

Naturally, Raphael had caught the whole thing on his Flip. Tim and I high-fived, grabbed the red toboggan and started climbing Plymouth Hill for another go.

Mary Elizabeth had started it all, with a message on Facebook: "New York Winter Society Goes Sledding, 5:30PM, Plymouth Hill, Central Park". That sounds like fun, I thought. I'll go, I'll still make my 8PM plans, and have dinner with Ben!

I arrived at the appointed place, a few moments tardy. Ben was stuck at work, one of few doors, besides retail stores and some restaurants, I felt, open in Manhattan. For public schools even, Mayor Bloomberg had declared an official Snow Day. But, my new Goretex pants seemed to be doing the trick so far; so, I was glad that EMS had been open! Not recognizing anyone, I decided to give an abandoned trash bag a go as a sled. I caution you to avoid protruding roots. Otherwise, good, cheap fun!

As I ascended the hill for the third time, I spotted Raphael. Over 6 feet tall with a white ski jacket, red goggles and a head lamp, he was hard to miss! Mary Elizabeth, on the other hand, was so buried under her ski mask, only when she spoke did I finally know she was there! And, she had a head lamp, too! And, then Tim showed up, a sight in an orange camouflage suit, with glowing devil horns perched upon his head. At least they wouldn't get lost in the crowd! With this crew, arrived four toboggans, two flat sleds and one Flip. I chose the bigger, red one, requested a co-pilot (Tim accepted) and, there is no better way to put this, then, "Let the Woo-Hoo begin"!

After our little stunt with the man and the 360 Degree spin, all felt empowered. First, there was the Double Stack, which was two bodies, face down, over "The Bump," i.e. the snow-covered tree root at the top of the hill's slickest chute. Second, there was the Triple Stack. One man face down, two ladies on top of him. Anyone else feel like we're at IHOP?

Third, someone discovered the skip jump a previous sledder had made. I'm not sure if Natalie or Brian went first. But, by the time Tim flew over, and Lenin and I wanted a turn, Natalie was offering us angling advice worthy of any pool shark!

Finally, there was Nine Stack, in two configurations. One was The Human Jenga, the other, a three man, six woman pyramid.

Our first three runs sent giggling bodies flying every which way, less than halfway down the hill. By the second three, we made it to the first tree before the whole stack unraveled. By the last few runs, shouts of "Grab shoulders!" "Hold my hand!" "Watch the man!" got us nearly to the bottom in one piece. Ben made it at the tail end of this. He got in three strong runs and even won a race!

Curiously no one complained of cold, even in their fingers. It was only rumbling stomachs that tore us from our little mountain!