Tubing or not tubing … THAT is the question

Photo by Tracey Valach
Intrepid winter adventurers and Snowshoe residents Dave and Marita Dragan are joined on the Coca Cola Tubing Hill at Silver Creek by their young friends, Mia and Ahna Valach. Dave, an expert skier, is a Snowshoe Mountain Guide. When it’s time to go inside and warm up, Marita advises that the best place to sip hot cocoa at Silver Creek is the Sugar Shack. At Snowshoe, she recommends the Junction in the Basin, “if you can get a window seat.”
Photo by Tracey Valach
Lots of couples might consider retirement to be a time to slow down. But Dave and Marita Dragan are more in line with George Bernard Shaw’s way of thinking: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” Here they are – playing around at the Coca Cola Tubing Park. They never miss a chance to get out in the snow on a cold winter’s day. This dynamic husband and wife duo are living the “high life” at elevation 4,848′ where year-round outdoor adventures abound.

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

You don’t have to be young to enjoy the many outdoor adventures at Snowshoe and Silver Creek – you just have to be young at heart.

Take tubing, for instance.

It’s the fast way to get down a snowy slope, all while reclining in an oversized, inflated inner tube-like contraption – and yes, it is as much fun as it looks.

Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of fun-seekers slide down the tubing hill every winter at Silver Creek – mostly kids and young adults – but there are the occasional incursions of more mature fun seekers, like myself.

If you’re old enough to remember using a toboggan or a Flexible Flyer to effect this type of transportation, well, let’s just say, you’re probably in my age group.

Growing up, I loved ice skating and, until about fifteen years ago, a slight trepidation about heights didn’t keep me from enjoying skiing.

I was fortunate to be able to visit breathtaking skiing destinations out west over the years, but most often I skied right here in Pocahontas County. 

I spent many happy winter days with my family on the beautiful slopes of Snowshoe and Silver Creek.

Winter days would find us either “up on the mountain,” or at our little farm, and snowy days were always the best.

If we were at home, it was one of our keenest pleasures to get out the sleds, climb up the hill in front of the house and aim ourselves downhill, trying to go fast enough to defy gravity and “get air” as we jumped the driveway.

Never did I think a time would come that sledding stopped looking like fun to me.

Never did I think I would be intimidated by sliding downhill in an inner tube.

Never did I think I’d be old.

It just didn’t seem like me to resist an opportunity to play in the snow when a gaggle of young people invited me to join them for some nighttime fun on the tubing hill at Silver Creek.

After a day of skiing and snowboarding, you’d think they’d be tired and ready to tuck into supper and a warm bed but, no, these youngsters had energy to burn. And they insisted that I accompany them while they burned it.

Not wanting to be thought of as a cranky old bat who doesn’t like to have fun – or worse, a coward – I reluctantly agreed to go along.

As we trudged through the snow and drew closer to the tubing hill, the six story-tall tracks loomed above in the night sky and I began to care less about being thought a coward and more about the foolishness of this endeavor.

I remembered the nasty little twinge of acrophobia that I used to have when approaching the top of a ski run or waiting to be whisked up onto a ski lift. That funny feeling in the pit of my stomach began to gnaw at me, again.

And the excuses flowed like a mighty stream.

This kind of tomfoolery is not for elderly ladies.

It’s not dignified.

It’s not safe.

What about my bad back?

You all go ahead. I’ll just watch.

The evil little rascals weren’t having any of it – they grabbed me and into the line we went.

Honestly, kids these days.

We each were given a giant inner tube with a leash attached to it and, after waiting a few minutes in line, we seated ourselves inside our tubes for the tow rope trip to the top of the hill.

Did I say, “seated?”

I should have more correctly said, “sprawled.”

And there’s no way one can do that gracefully.

I have never been that close to an inner tube in my life, let alone been sprawled in one.

But who has time to dwell on awkwardness with the unfamiliar as they are being towed to a certain death?

Did I mention that the hill is six stories tall?

The downhill view was beautiful, and just as I was beginning to enjoy the ride, we arrived at the top, and the moment of truth arrived, as well.

It seemed the polite thing to do was to smile and return the good cheer of my traitorous young friends as I gazed down the icy slope – which would surely spell my doom.

I tried in vain to select a lane that looked not as steep as the rest.

There was no backing out of it now.

Once again I stiffly lowered myself into the tube and prepared to meet my end with as much fortitude as I could muster.
We each crab-crawled our way to the brink of disaster – I mean, the crest of each of our lanes – and waited for the signal.
And then, we were off!

Everything was a rushing blur – each of us in our own lane, careening at break-neck speed down the snowy hill.

There was laughter, shouting and screaming and then there was me, holding my breath as I held on for dear life – the tube careening this way and that on it’s inevitable course to the bottom.

But guess what?

I made it.

And it was actually kind of fun.

Okay, I admit it.

It was A LOT of fun.

When I pried myself out of the tube, and dusted the snow off, I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

What in the world had I been so worried about?

Why hadn’t I tried this before?

I’d instantly metamorphosed from “I’ll just sit this one out,” into a tubing terror.

I couldn’t wait to get up top to do it again.

And the second time was even better.

I laughed all the way down the hill.

It was like being a kid again.

Photo courtesy of
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
An adventurous group prepares to conquer the Coca Cola Tubing Hill at Silver Creek.

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