Jack R. Williams Toboggan Chute, Camden, ME
“It’ll be over in nine seconds,” says Stuart Young, operator at the toboggan chute. It’s a statement that brings little comfort as our toboggan is tipped from a horizontal loading position onto the near vertical starting pitch of a 400-foot wooden toboggan run. The rumble of the sled sounds like a freight train, yet above the crescendo can be heard screams of surprise and delight. The chute is the only one of its kind remaining in New England and is host to the annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships.
We tuck in our elbows, lean back, and hold on tight. This is definitely different from just swooshing down that backyard slope. First built in 1936 and restored in 1960 and 1990, the track has a vertical drop of 70 feet. The wooden sled shimmies against the side boards as it gains momentum — up to 45 mph. The toboggan is momentarily suspended in air at the end before gliding out onto ice-covered Hosmer Pond, sometimes even sliding all the way across. The toboggan slows until we gain traction with our feet to stand up on the ice. Beaming grins. Bright eyes. In a moment, we are trudging up the hill for a second run. — Katrina Yeager
Jack R. Williams Toboggan Chute, Camden Snow Bowl — Parks & Recreation, 20 Hosmer Pond Rd., Camden, ME. Tickets: $2 per ride. 207-236-3438. camdensnowbowl.com