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
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.
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
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
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.