Sleigh Ride (or the Next Thing to It)
A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride and soon Miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side… Angola doesn’t have any sleighs for the public to rent this year, but we do have the next best thing toboggans!
That’s right it’s toboggan season at Pokagon State Park. Talk about a great way to spend a snowy day with family or friends! The quarter mile track is one of the best rides around and is sure to get your heart pumping.
The refrigerated run was built in the 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project and has been a staple at the park ever since. I have fond memories of not only riding it in the winter as a kid but also hiking it and hanging out in the shade of the tower during the summer as a teenager.
So I didn’t think twice about having my 6 year old climb the 30-foot tower for this vlog. To his great delight, we’ve walked the path of the run several times in summer. The plan was to take a few rides down it after I finished filming. We watched the first group of riders—with a boy about the same age—board their toboggan atop the wooden rollers that help propel the sled down the incline. My son’s eyes grew wide as workers pushed the riders over the 90-foot vertical drop.
“Mama, mama, let’s get down right now.”
At first I thought he wanted to go down, but then I saw he’d gone gray.
“Mama, I’m going to puke.”
That’s when I think we both learned he has a major fear of heights.
I’d always enjoyed the 30-second ride with wind whipping through my hair at 40 plus miles an hour. Every kid I’d ever met had too. Exhilarating and rush are some of the best words to describe the heart-pounding fun. Back on the ground everything was good again. Color returned to his cheeks as he watched with excitement as the sleds raced by. In fact, I had to pull him inside about 15 minutes later because his lips were turning blue. He wouldn’t go until I promised that he would have an even better view from inside the window-lined walls of the warming house.
So even though we enjoy the run in different ways, it’s still a great experience for both of us. As I understand it, it’s also a great place to work. Both my brother-in-law and oldest son have worked there. In fact, my son called it, “the best job I ever had”—keeping in mind he was 19 at the time.
The only downside is that once you get to the end of the track, you do have to carry your sled the quarter mile back. And if you want to go again, up dozens of stairs to the launch pad. As a tired mother lugging her sled said the other day when I was there, “no wonder they rent by the hour.”
So here’s what you need to know if you want to try it out. First, don’t worry about the weather. I’ve been there when it was 40 degrees out the day after Christmas and it was running thanks to the refrigeration unit. But I’ve also been on days when it was snowing. The ground crew is great at keeping the track open and free of snow. Sled rentals are $13 an hour. If it’s not busy you can do it for longer. They accept cash or credit cards. Depending on the size of the people either three or four people can fit to a sled. There are bathrooms and a warming facility with hot drinks and snack nearby. There is an entrance fee to get into the park. It’s $7 for in state cars and $9 for out of state. But if you have an Indiana Park Pass it will work for any state park.
The toboggan runs on the weekends only Friday: 5:30-9 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for most of the season but will be open every day for Christmas Break from Dec 21-Jan 2and will stay open through February 25, 2017. For more information or to see other activities at the park visit http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/4699.htm.