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185 The Lightning Guider 2010-02-03

lightning guider sled on a snowy road

Our good friends, Jon and Laura, did n0t go hiking with us last weekend... they went sledding instead. Here is their fun.

Despite Laura’s head cold, on Saturday, we picked up the old Lightning Guider from Mom and Dad’s and headed to our favorite sledding spot.  Nine mile hill along the 11.2 mile road loop at Percy Warner Park is that place.  The last time we had been there for winter activities was probably in 1999.  That year, we were the ONLY people there save a very few brave souls in four wheel drive vehicles.  This time, there was lots of traffic.  We had to watch for oncoming vehicles on this section of road and there were lots of folks sliding on the hillsides in the Beech Grove picnic area near the bottom.  

Our first runs mimicked those from ten years ago.  We started at the curve just below the intersection of the 5.8 and 11.2 mile loops and slid down almost to the Beech Grove intersection.  Conditions were a bit slushy and we extended the run upward to where we parked the truck (at the bench between the hairpin near the tip top of the hill.  With a bit of toe dragging, we were able to make the turns and achieve a top speed of 18.7 miles an hour on a .49 mile ride (according to Garmin).

The amount of vehicle traffic was troublesome as we were sledding the wrong way on a one way road.  We enjoyed sandwiches and hot chocolate.  There was even a chilly cyclist who took us up on a mug of the hot beverage!  We then decided to explore other sledding runs traveling with traffic and continued to carefully drive toward the park’s main entrance on Belle Meade Blvd.  We made a couple of runs between miles 4 and 5 (observing mileposts for the 5.8 mile loop) and one pretty good one on the Lea's Summit branch drive.  When we got to the main entrance, we were able to find a parking spot along the road.  There were lots of folks sledding on the park road and in the field adjacent to Page Road.

The best run of the day was from here.  We hiked up the Alle to the road and walked left until we could start sledding.  I didn’t get a good measurement of distance or speed, but it was a really fun ride!  We steered into the field as we got near the bottom and ended up right beside the truck. 

It was getting dark, so we drove more of the park road scouting out hills for Sunday.

On Sunday, our friends Matt and Jennifer joined us at the place we scouted on Saturday.  This was the hill along the 11.2 mile loop between the split from the 5.8 loop and the service road to Hwy 100.  Just after noon, we were the first folks to park along the service road at it's intersection with the main park road.  We walked to the left for about .48 miles and ended up with a speed record breaking run for Jon and Laura at 21.7 mph!  Matt and Jennifer weren’t slow.  They clocked right at 18 mph and that is plenty fast when you are just inches off the ground.

We took turns with the sled, girls on boy’s backs, taking pictures and video as our buddies zoomed by.  The bottom of this hill has southern exposure and pavement began showing through our sliding surface, so, after snacks and hot chocolate,  we drove along the park road again in search of the next run.  We only found one more which was along the "short cut" from the 11.2 loop over to the road just above Indian Springs picnic area.  This one was against traffic, so Jon and Laura went first (we had much experience ditching for oncoming vehicles) and Laura stayed at the bottom with a cell phone for flagging duty.  Matt and Jennifer said it was worth it even though none of us got faster than 17 mph.  When we all met up at the top, a couple was lost on their hike and asked for help.  They were from Europe and not familiar with the park.  We figured out that they had parked along the main road near the top of 3 mile hill, so we exited the park on Chickering Rd and drove back around to Deep Wells and up the hill to the grateful couple’s car.  We then went back to the service road and Hwy 100 and ended up at Sportsmans’ Grill for food and drink.

We discussed returning to the scene of our first sledding runs of the day as we figured the sliding surface had refrozen and we could clock a faster run or two.  Instead, we agreed to reconvene during the next winter weather event (hopefully, it won’t be another 10 years).  I guess we’re showing signs of maturity.

I hope the fresh air helped Laura's cold.  I know I heard lots of giggling from all in the group, especially as the sledding speeds increased.  That can’t be bad for anybody.

Good exercise (walked between 3 and 4 miles each day, all up hill).  Great scenery and friends!

Happy Skeleton trails!


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