When I see snow on the mountain peaks, I pine for an escape to Mt. Washington. I mean really, how lucky are we to have such a fantastic place so close by and where there is so much to do. While downhill skiing is my number one craving, I also have a strong appetite for a “snowshoe & fondu” and taking a cross-country ski. Tubing sounds attractive too; however, it routinely falls to the bottom of the list. Or at least it did, until recently, when a post-holiday, evening, tubing party showed me what I was missing.
The day of the party, I admit to grumbling about packing extra clothes, about leaving the warmth of my home just to brave the odds in the name of team spirit. In my defense, it really was an awful night: windy, blustery, and with random snow showers. But there was no turning back; the event was “on.”
After piling into a stretch minivan with my associates, we were giddy with anticipation. As the snow flew and the wind blew, shaking our vehicle, I felt a little like I was in the opening scene of The Italian Job; boss behind the wheel, and when any minute, a surprise attack could be mounted from the towering snowbanks that provided no escape.
Upon arrival, we skated along the icy parking lot, tucking our faces into our jackets and throwing our bodies against the driving wind, still wondering how cold, cold would get. We gathered inside, donned our layers, and as our body heat quickly rose, so did our confidence. We trudged out into the night where we were met by the tubing attendants who amounted to pairs of eyes behind hoods and down jackets. I suppose the same could be said for us.
I rallied with my travel buddies, nervously joking as we eyed the launch site. We could play it safe with Lane 1 which was somewhat protected from the elements, up the stakes on Lane 2 which had a nice jump midway down, or throw caution to the wind, literally, on Lane 3. We opted for Lane 1 and plopped down into our individual tire tubes. Twisting and turning to grasp the handles of our partner tubes, our heap came to rest in the shape of a four-leaf clover.
With a gentle shove from our attendant, we were sent spinning and careening down the run. I admit to exhaling incessant blood-curdling screams almost the entire journey until we hit the runout, a bed of straw that brought us to a bumpy halt. On the next run I would know to lift my bum and celebrate the abs workout. With each run I shouted with less fear and tons more wild abandon.
To our delight, we discovered that the covered electric transporter allowed our cheeks to defrost and our bodies to relax before stepping back out into the howling night for another shot at downhill fame.
We named our team the “mountain crushers,” as from our perspective every run ended in glory! We were a group of women who would be considered more “senior staff,” not just in terms of responsibility but also, yes, age. With pride, I share with you that as one hour led to the next, the “mountain crushers” powered on and were, indeed, the last ones off the slopes! I hated to go in.
I grew up running sleds down icy terrain in airplane formation (a story for another time), tobogganed over surprise jumps, but I’d never tubed down Mt. Washington’s runs. And, surely I did not know what I was missing until that amazingly fun night. So, if you haven’t tubed yet (and you are active, younger or older), give your skis and boards a short time out, because you haven’t lived until you’ve tubed, and best of all … there still is a month of Mt. Washington snow tubing left!