Thursday, January 10, 2008

Suicide Hill

My recent post on the subject of our sledding excursion reminded me of a sledding hill near my house when I was a kid. We called it “Suicide Hill.” Over the years, I’ve discovered that every kid who grew up in a snowy area had a local hill that bore the same name.

But when I ask about the features of the hill that entitled it to bear such a threatening name, the answers are always kind of vague and not very threatening at all. “It’s really steep,” they say. Or, “There were trees on the way down.” Well, trees aren’t much of a threat if you know how to steer a sled, but I suppose if you’re a novice, they can be intimidating.

I’ve never heard of a Suicide Hill that was quite as terrifying as the one in my neighborhood. It was located at a local golf course. You started on one of the tees, swooped through a glade of trees, flew over a jump, and had only an instant to correct your course before you had to cross a narrow golf cart bridge over a 6-foot deep paved culvert. At the bottom of that culvert was an icy stream about two inches deep, studded with sharp rocks. Here’s a diagram:


There were four ways to injure yourself:

  1. Hit a tree. It's a minor obstacle, but not one you should ignore. Potential: Broken fingers, bruises.

  2. Hit the steel bridge railing. This is possibly the greatest danger, since the bridge is only about 4 feet wide. Potential: Broken arm, broken collarbone.

  3. Plunge into the stream. Bailing out of your run will toss you onto the rocks. Potential: Serious bruising, humiliation, and the possibility of hypothermia or frostbite as you limp home.

  4. Fly into the opposite paved bank. The only thing worse than bailing out of a bad run and suffering the teasing of your friends. Potential: Broken arm, fractured skull, serious bruises, and of course, the frostbite.
Does anybody have a better Suicide Hill?

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