Just because it’s 100 degrees out there! From The Oklahoman, page 12B, Jan. 16, 2001.
A snowy ride on the wild side
Real Estate Editor
RED RIVER, N.M. — Atop Greenie Peak, the air, at 11,500 feet, was so thin and frigid it would have had me gulping icy gasps even were I not clinging for dear life to the handlebars of a contraption the likes of which I’d never even laid eyes on an hour before: a snowmobile.
It was New Year’s Day, in single digits and a way negative wind chill, on a Ski-Doo rented from Red River Sled Shed — and what a way to start the year. I’m not sure what I imagined snowmobiling to be like, but I did not expect it to be like racing a smoke-spewing tractor in road gear, crossed with a bucking machine and a dirt bike, across a giant, frozen Ruffles potato chip.
In hell. Frozen over. From 8,750 feet at the base to 11,500 at the peak — high enough to look down at 10,350-foot top of the Red River Ski Area a few miles south.
What heights for an eastern Oklahoma river bottom boy! Shoot, the tallest points around my old stomping grounds barely approach 900 feet: Wildhorse Mountain south of Sallisaw and Turnham Mountain north of Muldrow, both at 870 feet.
The lowest point at Red River is 10 times higher than the highest points where I grew up. The highest point at Red River is about 10 times the elevation of my home now, Edmond, which averages about 1,200 feet.
No wonder I was woozy.
So in Red River, it was not a pleasant meander up Greenie Peak, imagining “Rocky Mountain High” wafting among the Aspen, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and silver and blue spruce. It was more like a could-be death race with heavy metal thrash guitar crashing through the national forest.
Think runaway train — uphill — of folks aboard eight snowmobiles jerked and bucked almost 6 miles up the mountain by experienced guides on their own machines. Think 15 minutes of maniacal freeform “play” in a meadow just below the peak.
Think runaway train — downhill — as those demon guides and relentless gravity jerked and bucked those now-frozen-silly folks back down the mountain.
I stopped counting how many times I almost lost it — tipped the machine, got thrown or just lost my icy grip — at a dozen. Afterward, I could not feel my hands. Or my butt.
I griped. I moaned. I was sore for a week. I can’t wait to do it again.