By Carolyn Grow Dailey at SkinnyWalletFatLife
Imagine the joy of feeling eight-years old again -- how liberating, exhilarating, and fun it would be to escape for a day and find that kid locked deep inside you. Inconceivable? It happened for me with ‘Sliking’ (a combination of sledding and hiking) and you may want to try the sport yourself, to see if it unlocks your own ‘Fountain of Youth.’
Photo: Carolyn (arm up) with husband and friends after a sliking descent.
Do you remember how much fun it was to go sledding with parents when you were a kid and, later, how much fun you had hiking with friends when you became an independent-minded teenager? Sliking blends together the best of these worlds. Imagine a crisp winter day where you lace up your boots, put on your Microspikes or Yaktrax, and ascend into the mountains. In Central Washington, the terrain will likely be spectacular as you take-in the aroma of pine-scented air, gaze at craggy peaks floating in a turquoise sky, and enjoy the company of friends. Several hours, several miles, and several thousand vertical feet later, you might reach an alpine lake nestled below the rock walls of a local peak. Here you’re likely to pass snacks around as you absorb this grandeur with friends. Can’t get much better than that, right?
Well, as good as that is—and it is really good—it gets even better if you’ve strapped a little bullet sled, like the Merikan Missile, to your day pack.
Weighing about two pounds, the sled is just wide enough to sit on and its plastic construction with a hollow center delivers an amazingly efficient as well as a pretty comfy ride. You’ve already scoped out your course, since you just hiked it. So without further delay, you hop on the sled and begin descending the snow-packed trail from whence you came. You take it slowly at first, learning to steer and brake with your feet and testing your leaning and swooping skills on turns.
Suddenly, you find yourself in a groove, and, with this gravity-fueled toy, you’re eight-years old again. The speed makes you giggle, the bank turns make you feel cool, and the little bits of air grabbed along the way make you holler. This frolicking flight down the mountain is an escape to the world of giddy children, and you won’t want the feeling of youth or of flying to end. They will, of course, but at the end your smiles will be wide and all the laughing will have lifted your soul. When you check your watch, you’ll laugh even louder when you realize it only took 25 minutes to descend what took hours to climb.
It’s crazy fun. I’d even call it epic fun -- after all, when was the last time you felt like you were eight-years old again?
Entry cost. Merikan Missle Sled ($40), Microspikes by Katoola (about $65), Yaktrax (about $30), gaiters to keep snow out of boots (about $40). Apart from this, you only need items you probably already own (day pack, warm hat, warm gloves, sunglasses, winter pants and coat).
Local places where you can pick up these items:
Microspikes: Performance Footwear, Leavenworth Mountain Sports
Yaktrax: Der Sportsmann, Hooked on Toys, Sports & Fitness Outlet
Gaiters: Stan's Merry Mart, Performance Footwear, Der Sportsmann, Hooked on Toys, Lake Chelan Sports, Leavenworth Mountain Sports, Sports & Fitness Outlet
Sleds: Stan's Merry Mart, Der Sportsmann, Hooked on Toys, Sports & Fitness Outlet
Value. No lift tickets are necessary and for the investment of about $150, months of winter fun await. The value of re-finding your eight-your-old self: priceless.
Hazards. Be aware that life on a gravity-fueled plastic missile isn’t entirely safe. Be conservative as you learn the limitations of your control. And don’t be too proud to walk around steeps littered with rocks or trees that are tougher than you. Also, watch your hands – wear thick gloves for cushioning and don’t let your fingers get squashed between the sled and underlying rocks or saplings.