Christmas circa 1988 or '89. My family lived in Jackson, NH. It's was a pretty small town back then, probably a population of 600, give or take a few. Kids all over the wold get gifts on this magical day. In Jackson, NH, two kids received quite a surprise under the Christmas tree - A set of hand made, one-off, never to be made again luges. I don't remember who made them, but what I do remember is that they were in my brother and I's face the second after my father said "Open your presents!". One second, yep, that's how long our gifting ceremony takes us in the Cormier household.
There ended up being a total of 4 of them. Two of them were solo sleds and two of them were made as 2-Seaters. I remember that the rails were made of wood like the rest of the luge body, but they also had polycarbonate, super slick plastic fastened to them. Apparently its supposed to make the sled go faster and later that day both my brother and I were sure as heck going to find out how fast they would actually go!
I remember my Aunt Joan, Uncle Ron, Cousin's Kim and Greg came over in the late afternoon and left Greg there to spend the night. Generally when Greg comes into me and my brother's adventures we seem to top even our own level of stupidity, or as my father would always say, "Don't throw rocks at the barn...", which translates to, "Don't be stupid, come home safely please.". This is usually followed by all of us going about our merry way and doing what we weren't supposed to do anyways.
Since there was a total of 4 of these new luges my brother and I received for Christmas we thought to ourselves,
"Why not take them on their maiden voyage!"?
"Certainly we can find a good enough hill to test these out on!"
"I know of the perfect spot. Expert slope over on Black Mountain!"
So at Midnight we told our parents that we would be back in a little while and my father's response was, "Don't throw rocks at the barn and be safe please. Those luges are hand made and very expensive!"
Let me stop there for a second and explain what our intentions were:
1. Hike up Black Mountain's front slope all the way to the expert slope
2. Sled down said slope smiling with glee as we zipped down with great speed and control
3. Hightail it back to the car and head home
Our intentions were good, it was the execution of the plan that failed miserably. First of all the slopes are closed at Midnight, so the public isn't supposed to be anywhere near the slopes so we had to be very sneaky. This was a trick that our father taught us when we went on a Midnight run down Mt. Cranmore. Wait for the groomers to finish with the bottom of the slope and as they work their way up to the top of the mountain, hike up just along the treeline and keep yourself out of the sight of the groomers. Then when the groomers go to the other side of the mountain, finish your hike and have at the best sledding down the freshest groomed slopes you can ever have!
My brother, Justin, is so psyched about getting the first run that he is literally running up the mountain. See his whole dream at this point in his life is to be a Marine as well as a professional body builder. Lets just say he doesn't eat Wheaties, the Wheaties want to eat him. Both Greg and I are no slouches either so we're attempting to make good time ourselves as we are just as pumped up to get the first run of the night done. As Greg and I are about 3/4 of the way up to the expert slope we can hear Justin yelling down at us. It's completely intelligible and we both just look at each other and continue hiking up the mountain completely oblivious to what Justin's intentions were - He was coming down. Ready or not, here it goes. Look out Chuck, See ya later Charlie, I'm coming down so you better get out of the way!
Greg and I figured out really quick what was transpiring, we could hear the speed Justin was picking up as he dropped into slope and headed straight down the mountain. I remember faintly hearing a scream, then a yell that was louder than the scream, then a scream again that was much louder. After that the screaming and yelling got quieter much faster. When Justin passed us I think I heard a thunderclap, a sonic boom, if you will. My neck snapped so fast trying to keep up with the blur that had just went by me. Justin was traveling at ludicrous speed and was still getting faster the farther down the mountain he went. I can still see the "cloud" of snow and hear the loud sound of splintering wood and to this day I still chuckle at what happened to my brother at the bottom of the mountain.
Black Mountain's clubhouse had a walkway. This walkway went from the parking lot and cut through the snow all the way to the clubhouse. At it's deepest part it's likely 15 feet deep and has a width of about 10 feet. There is no lip or angle at the top of it and is basically a solid wall of ice on either side. I say this because Justin was going fast, so fast. He had forgotten about this walkway and was extremely surprised when he went airborne and instead of flying over to the other side and stopping, he hit the opposite side (A big wall of ice) and folded himself. I'm talking folding here - his head touched his toes, kind of folding. While this was happening both Greg and I were DYING laughing, still yet to get on the luges. Still yet to come down the slope because were both bent over laughing so hard at what had just happened to Justin.
After what seemed like hours of laughing I looked at Greg and said, "Beware of that wall down there..." and jumped on my luge. The speed was so intense. It was so instant and it seemed to never stop accelerating. By the time I got to the bottom of the slope I was struggling to get this luge to stop and now understood why Justin may have had a few issues with stopping, even if he was able to process anything other than "HOLY CRAP!". My first thought was, "How do you steer this thing?" and then, "HOW DO YOU STOP?" This was followed by me figuring it out and stopping and I was hoping that Greg would figure it out as well since he was right behind me! Luckily he did figure it out and we both came to a rest right in front of where Justin was now curled up in a ball on the walkway. I'm pretty sure that Justin had found a new way to stretch every muscle in his body that night. I'm also sure that the luge, which was hand crafted, had obliterated itself into a bazillion splinters and was no longer operable by anyone or anything other than a bon-fire.
All of these events were certainly not in our plans that night. We came away relatively unhurt and I'm sure my parents were happy about that, although the walk of shame we did as we entered the front door to our house carrying the canvas seat and a few splinters of wood from the luge told a story to them that we'll never hear the end of.
You can tell a great story Ty. One thing you boys always learned but still want to test is when I tell you that for whatever reason you get caught at anything you do that is wrong. I say, "Don't throw rocks at the barn", you try it anyway, and one way or the other you pay a price. When will you ever learn???
This story makes me want to tell some of my own sledding stories. Look for this soon. Great work! I enjoyed the read.
You got to tell one of the greatest sledding stories ever told! It was an epic night and I remember it just that way. I didn't walk right for about 2 weeks and my back and hamstrings were practically ripped off their attachment points to my bones, I hit so hard. I miss sledding like that and look forward to doing it again with you and Greg. Great storytelling bro. Great stuff bud.
Love ya always-
Being the cautious mom, as I read your story I was fearing the worst for Justin! You made me feel as though I were coming down that mountain with you. What an awesome ride that must have been- And you'll have this story to share with your sons and grandsons!
Oh my gosh, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree does it boys? I was laughing right along with you as you were describing Justin's incredibly speedy decent, blowing past you like the Tasmanian cartoon character! Your Father took me on a sledding hike up Tuckermans Ravine and as we ascended we were in a total whiteout, all we could do is stand still till it passed. We then went higher and higher only to see twigs for trees as there was total exposure and little vegetation. Now with this comes ice as I'm sure you experienced without any warning! With ice comes no control, with no control comes, no stopping! Yes as we descended the ice formed a glass-like covering on the snow and I panicked. I tried to use my heels to dig into the front of the sled where my feet were dangling as the speed picked up! I gave it all I had to break the ice and suddenly it worked only to find myself in the folded in half sandwich as you described your brother. My face was between my boots and I came to a sudden stop! My glasses were imbedded into the crunchy, icy snow, my hat flew off my head and suddenly my fear felt like it had jumped out of my body. Holy Cow, did I just do that?!
Now that's why I say it doesn't fall far from the tree but what stories you can tell!