"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Snow Can Be Exciting With A "Fannyboggan"
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

Indiana, much of the Midwest, and Eastern states were transformed into a winter wonderland by last week's snow, much to the consternation of millions of people.

Now, the same snow that snarled traffic and made life miserable in many other ways (including life-threatening and life-taking situations) can be used in a form of outdoor recreation that is beyond comparison. Let me tell you about it.

This is the fannyboggan I discovered in Canada.Once, while on a winter sports tour of the Canadian Laurentians, I discovered what the local folks called a "fannyboggan." It was nothing more than a snakelike snow structure built like a four-foot high "U" coming down a steep hillside.

Walls of the snow-crusted "U" were six to 10 inches thick at the top. The structure probably was six feet wide at the bottom. The bottom of the "U" was as flat and smooth as the builders could make it, and once completed, the entire "U" was packed tightly and sprayed with water when air temperatures were below freezing at night. Outside walls on hairpin turns had to be extra thick and high to withstand the "G" forces created by hefty bodies, and to keep the riders from going over the top. 

The brave--including your reporter--merely sat on a piece of cardboard at the top and came down at 50 mph or faster, through hairpin turns and blazing straight-aways.

The fannyboggan we discovered probably was 200 yards long and dropped 75 to 100 feet or more from top to bottom. But building a small-scale fannyboggan is as easy as moving the snow in from both sides and creating low sides to a trough before packing it and spraying it lightly with water on a cold day or night. 

Needless to say, with low sides, it is a good idea to have no trees or other solid objects near the sides or at the lower end of the structure.

How do you build a fannyboggan? It is easy and fun.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you have four inches of snow on the ground--wet snow is better than fluffy, dry snow because it packs better. But snow, like the proverbial rose, still is snow no matter what you call it. Any snow will make a good fannyboggan.

If you have four inches of snow on a modest little hill, plot the course of your fannyboggan and pull the snow in from both sides to create a mound of snow three or four feet wide from top to bottom of the hill. Then mash the snow down in the middle of the mound until you have a trough with sides from six inches to a foot high all the way down the hill. The trough should certainly be wide enough for a child to sit in, and it would be a good idea to make it wide enough to accommodate the backside of an adult. After all, there are young children and old children.

Pack the bottom and the sides well, making both several inches thick and as smooth as you can get them. Then, when night brings lower (freezing) temperatures, spray your boggan lightly with water and allow it to freeze.

The next day you will have every kid in the neighborhood there--sliding on everything from pieces of cardboard to those slick-surfaced dog and cat food sacks.

They will be enjoying the snow.


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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