The speed trap of death

Katie Kasper

Lawrence University boasts that its students come from 43 states and more than 50 countries. For those who are “non-Wisconsinites,” the “Lawrence difference” in winter may seem a little bleak. But for those of us who have learned from years of sub-zero wind chill and colorless days – that throw even the cheeriest into fits of S.A.D. – Appleton winters are just another challenge, like making lemonade from a fistful of lemons.
While holing up in a dorm room with blankets and nonperishable food is one approach to the cold, I prefer to make the most of a snowy situation by bundling up and partaking in a plethora of winter activities. There’s skiing, ice-skating, snowshoeing and my personal favorite – just playing in the snow.
The first step to enjoying winter? Layer, layer, layer. When I flop back-first in the snow to make an angel, or prepare for retaliation after having snowed someone in the face, I’m typically wearing a hat, scarf, shirt, sweater, winter coat, mittens, leggings, jeans, snow-pants, thick socks and boots. Sure, I may look like Randy Parker from “A Christmas Story,” but I remain dry and toasty for hours of outdoor fun.
Activities like fort building and snow fights can take place anywhere with a large compilation of snow, but for the real winter experience, stepping off campus is a must.
Wisconsin has an abundance of state and county parks that are great for outdoor recreation. My personal favorite winter location is Calumet County Park. About a 30-minute drive from Appleton, Calumet is located just south of High Cliff. While both parks have beautiful trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, Calumet offers something more – a sledding hill.
Calumet’s hill is not the run-of-the-mill mound you may remember from childhood. It is a speed trap of death. Approximately the steepness of union hill and slightly longer, the Calumet slope has filled my winter memories with fearful fun.
The experience begins with a trek up the hill, or a ride on the tow rope for $3. The next step involves choosing a place to start and a position – sitting, lying down, locking arms, train. Finally, the push off.
Once flying down the hill, grooves and bumps spin the tube or sled and give it air. Then comes a smaller hill to slow down the snow farers. As sledders speed up this second mound, a park employee stands at the top yelling, “fall off! fall off!” If a sledder fails to “fall off,” they continue down the second hill and ram into a line of hay bales. If this sledder has retained enough speed, he or she may catapult over the hay bales into the woods.
So if you find yourself holed up in a dorm room this weekend, consider giving the Calumet County Park Snow Tube Hill a try. The hill is open on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don’t have a sled or tube? Rent one there for $2.00 plus a deposit – drivers license, credit card or $20.