The Roundup -

Breakneck Speed


February 14, 2018 | View PDF

Cornucopia Road lies just outside Virginia City. This rutted gravel road begins at the pond on the west side of Virginia City, and snakes its way uphill, making numerous sharp curves and turns on its way to the top of the mountain. I would guess a traveler moving up this little hill ascends over 1000 feet in altitude from the time he or she leaves the base of the road until she reaches the top. So, Cornucopia most definitely does have a grade to it, with some portions of the road much steeper than others, but nowhere does this throughway have anything resembling a flat patch from its beginning to its end.

I walk up and down Cornucopia multiple times in the course of a week. I love it, and look forward to daily walks on the mountain road. If I ever purchase my electric Rad Rover fat bike, I will try biking up this incline. Also, I have had a recurring thought now for the past three winters on trying a fast track down the mountain. I wonder how I’d like tobogganing down Cornucopia from the top to the bottom? I bet I would love the thrill of whizzing down this slope.

Whenever I mention this thought to friends and colleagues, I receive nothing but negative feedback. Eyebrows raise, I hear ‘tsk, tsk” in varying forms, and a good friend told me she hears bones crunching and skin shredding every time I mention to her that the Cornucopia Tobogganing Bug has bitten me yet again. My husband thoughtfully points out that toboggans are somewhat difficult to steer. Another colleague reminisces how she used to toboggan down a particular street in Virginia City, complete with two very sharp curves of its own, and she would count herself lucky if she managed to reach the bottom still attached to her sled.

I guess these well-meaning friends and neighbors have a point, as several years ago a local couple decided to toboggan down the mountain road we call Cornucopia. They missed one of the curves and sailed out into the trees, literally at breakneck speed. She walked away unscathed, he broke his neck. He wore a neck brace for weeks until the fracture healed. They haven’t tobogganed since, at least not down Cornucopia.

Does this little cautionary tale deter me? Not really. An absentee neighbor who owns a cabin a bit further up Cornucopia comes to Virginia City every year at Christmastime with her children. I know those kids successfully navigate the curves and turns and inclines on Cornucopia, as I see the toboggan marks when I take my walks. In fact, last year one of them rocketed by me on her plastic toboggan as I plodded down the hill. If these kids can reach the bottom of the mountain safely, why can’t I? Granted, I can’t bend and twist as well as they do, my bones are no longer made of rubber, but I don’t plan to fall off or miss a turn, either. Besides, I will already be lying prone on the toboggan, so I won’t have far to fall. How can I miss? A few practice runs down the slope of our own driveway with its own curves and twists ought to give me some experience and the practice I need to complete the much longer run from the top of Cornucopia to the very bottom.

As children, my siblings and I didn’t sled much. We did not live in an area conducive to real downhill sledding. Our sleds broke through the snow, did not glide with ease, and proved quite useless for much more than hauling items from point A to point B. Instead, we spent our time outdoors in the snow building snow caves, snow forts, making snowmen, or just frolicking in the snow engaging in fast and furious snowball fights. Sledding and tobogganing never held much allure in our winter snow activities.

So, I figure what I missed out on in my youth I ought to make up for in my older age. I can just feel the thrill of accelerating down Cornucopia at breakneck speed, negotiating curves like a pro, snow crystals whipping my cheeks as I hurtle down, down, down to the bottom of Cornucopia Road. Surely this experience ought to be part of my bucket list.

Of course, I need to purchase a proper toboggan first. My husband and I had a cheap plastic one that we found at the local dump. We used it mainly to haul wood from the woodpile to the house. We broke the cheap contraption this winter while hauling wood. Plastic really doesn’t much care for cold weather or rough stones that lurk beneath the snow.

I will use the excuse that we need a new sturdy toboggan to haul items during the winter. One trip from the woodpile with a toboggan beats hauling the same amount of wood in six trips, armload by armload. A good, well-built toboggan ought to last longer than we will, at this point. Of course, once we have it, the temptation to drag it with me on one of my jaunts to the top of Cornucopia may prove too strong to resist, and I will discover for myself the thrill of coming back down the mountain a heck of a lot faster than I went up.

After all, people my age climb mountains, sky dive, go spelunking, white water raft, and engage in other activities a lot more dangerous than tobogganing down the side of a mountain at a rapid pace, riding a thin slice of material that glides easily and quickly on snow and ice. Tobogganing sounds pretty tame when compared to a whole host of other activities a person could try.

I wonder when toboggans will go on sale this year?


Reader Comments

Doreen writes:

I still love reading your articles Lois and sure do miss my old neighbor. If ever we are Virginia City way, we will look you up! Hope all is well with you my friend.


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