Heatstroke and Bear Bites: Why Summer Sledding Sucks
The kids are out of school. You’re shorthanded at work, trying to cover for everyone’s vacations. That giant fireball in the sky is attempting to burn the skin off of your body. Snowpack is at a season low. The days are long. This can only mean one thing: We are in the middle of two months of the worst snowmobiling of the year. Summer sledding sucks.
Most of us understand that sledding is at its worst during July and August. Here’s why snowmobiling is so tough this time of year.
Why Summer Sledding Sucks
Mosquitos and Black Flies
Stopping for lunch is a sharing experience during the summer months; you eat your sandwich while an assortment of flying creatures viciously removes both your blood and your will to live. The 30-plus degree temperature has turned your Dollar Store simulated lunch meat into a slimy grey salmonella factory anyway, so you might as well let the bugs enjoy their last meal too.
Summer Treats Do Not Hold Up Well In Your Muffpot
A summertime favourite, popsicles will unfortunately melt rather quickly in your muff pot or exhaust cooker. Adding to the frustration of being denied your favourite icy treat is the fact that the now liquified sugar water leaking through your engine compartment will turn your sled into a giant ant hill during your lunch break.
Controlling today’s high-powered sleds requires a lot more mental sharpness than back in the days of your grandpa swilled Gin from a brown paper bag all day while riding his 22hp Driftmaster around the farm. We need to be on top of our game, ready to instantaneously react to any situation—both physically and mentally. This is hard to do while suffering from the debilitating effects of heatstroke. Wearing a snowmobile helmet in sweltering summer heat will have your vision blurring quicker than your Uncle Dan’s at the Saturday night barn dance.
Rocks Aren’t Soft
Falling into a pillow of fresh powder is a pleasant experience. Falling onto a pile of igneous rock is not. Without getting too technical, the scientific reason for this is that rock is generally harder than the human body—with the obvious exception of some people’s heads. Catching a face full of roost is also much more pleasant when it consists of powder snow, rather than getting smashed in the face with chunks of rock and dirt.
Contrary to popular belief, bears can run fast. Faster than you. Especially faster than you in a size-12 snowboot and onesie. Add in the complications of the heatstroke, the fact that your body is now drenched in high-fructose corn syrup for your failed popsicle experience and blood is pouring down your face from bug bites and rocks to the face, and you have become one tasty looking bear buffet.
On a side note, if you wish to know whether the bear chasing you is a black bear or a grizzly, simply climb a tree. If it climbs up the tree after you, it’s a black bear. If it knocks the tree down, then eats you, it’s a grizzly.
Your skis will NOT bite into pavement, so don’t even try. You will scrape your way along in a perfectly straight line at the rate of $16.50 per meter; carbides are expensive. Conversely, carbides do bite very hard into clay and dirt. You will find this out when you touch down from a wheelie and your skis stick, catapulting you over the windshield. Summer sledding is hard.
It’s Not All Bad
On the upside, avalanches aren’t much of a concern. And parking lot crowds should be at a minimum this time of year. Trail conditions may vary as most groomers are shut down in July and August, but at least you don’t have to pay trail fees. Despite these obvious perks, for the most part, sledding conditions are just not that favourable right now.
So the next time you see your favourite sledder limping down the driveway, covered in purple sugar water, ants crawling up his underwear, missing a boot, bleeding from multiple bug (and probably bear) bites, smelling of melted hyfax and sweat, please remember to be nice to them. While your first instinct may be to call the people in the little white coats to take him away to a safe place, try offering a cold drink and some first-aid instead—its been a really tough day of summer sledding.