posted: December 29th, 2010 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: Somewhere in Montana’s Flathead Valley (it’s a top secret), there is a perfect spot for small numbers of family groups to gather on a snowy winter day, to build a campfire, lower the tailgates of their pickups, eat hot chilly – and for children, both young and old, to climb the nearby hills, push off on sleds for a delightful 50-yard descent to the warm fire around which many of the adults have gathered, essentially because they’re drinking hot chocolate. (Well some of them are.)
Families assembled know one another from years of association in the Flathead, though they represent an eclectic group. Among them is a fellow who commutes to Russia as a timber consultant, a mason, an electrician, a social worker, a teacher, a forest ranger, and several Realtors; and though their professions are diverse, they’re all drawn here by their shared interest of family fun and by the general exhilaration of sledding.
DIFFERENT SLED DESIGNS
Sleds are certainly different from the American Flier I used as a boy. Those who can remember back that far will recall the metal runners which elevated you several inches above the surface of the snow.
L to R: (Group photo) Zane, Molly, granddaughter Halle, Raney; (middle photo) Raney (note Molly and Raney are identical twins); (right photo) Molly followed by Halle.
Though I occasionally see these old-style sleighs, more popular today are sleds that have more of a toboggan look to them. The result is that you are separated by just fractions of an inch from the surface over which you glide.
PLEASE SHOW RATHER THAN TELL!
Because I was the “elder” in the group, many wanted me to join in the sledding, which I did. And here I must point out that some of those who encouraged me the most were among the few adults who did not actually join their children. Words of encouragement took the form of: “Hey, you need to run [at the top of the slope] before you take off. That way you’ll generate more speed.
“Watch the kids!”
Next time, I’m hoping for a more participatory audience; some adult who will show rather than tell. And I’m also hoping that those who discovered the joy of winter sledding will keep it a top secret.
P.S. Of course you can enhance your enjoyment of Montana’s Flathead Valley by purchasing our book (below), Exploring Glacier and Montana’s Flathead Valley. Money will help us feed our grandkids and put shoes on their feet.
THIS TIME ONE YEAR AGO: