Kicksledder Spotlight: Kicksledding in Whitefish, Montana with Lynn Emerick
When and where did you first learn about kicksledding?
I went up to Glacier National Park last winter and saw a man kicksledding on the frozen ice of Lake McDonald. I was intrigued: I had never seen anything like it except for dogsleds. I asked him what he was doing and he let me try it out. He showed me the basics and told me some of the history of kicksledding. I loved it immediately and started researching where to find one. Since I’ve had my sled, I’ve started to see kicksleds on social media in places like Svalbard and Finland, and one of my friends said she used to have one in Russia.
Photo: Lynn trying a kicksled (vintage) for the first time
What kind of kicksled do you have?
I have a traditional Esla T6. I did a lot of research and it seemed to be the gold standard in kicksleds. I like that it’s light and can fold down to fit in a vehicle, and that you can buy extra runners for it to use in different conditions.
Where are your favorite places to kicksled?
I like frozen lakes that are surrounded by mountains because you can glide well. I’ve also gone on dirt roads that are snowcovered. We don’t have any designated trails here for kicksleds but I’m going to try some snowmobile trails this winter.
You mentioned on Instagram that you covered A LOT of ground one day on your kicksled. Tell us about that adventure!
I took my kicksled out on a local lake that is 9 miles long. The ice was perfect and I was able to get to the end of the lake and back in a short period of time. That was an 18 mile day, but kicksledding feels different than hiking or even cross country skiing that distance. It felt pretty easy, although it was still a good workout. The mountains were snow covered, and the only people out and about were a couple of ice fishermen.
Has kicksledding changed your relationship with winter?
Yes, to be honest I don’t love winter. I’ve lived in 15 different states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and I prefer warmer climates. But I love mountains, so I keep returning to them, which means there will be snow. I don’t want to sit inside all winter so I make myself go out and do winter activities. When I got my kicksled I was really happy that I had found another sport to do in winter. It makes it much more enjoyable.
Do you see the sport of kicksledding becoming more popular?
Yes, it’s so fun and pretty much anyone can do it. It’s easier on the knees than a lot of winter sports, but it’s still a good workout. You can incorporate your dogs if you want, or parents can put their kids on the seat. It’s great solo or in a group.
Have you had any reactions on the trail when you and your friends are out kicksledding together?
Yes, almost everyone I see asks me about it. They are very intrigued by it. I let a lot of people try it last winter and they had a blast. It was definitely a conversation starter. Most people had never seen one before.
Do you have any kicksled related or goals or plans for this winter?
Yes, I want to find more places to take my sled. I’ve recently talked to the owners of a cross country ski area here and they will allow my sled, so I’m excited to go there with a friend who is learning skate skiing. In the winter the road through Glacier National Park is closed to traffic and people ski or snowshoe on it, so I’m going to take my sled there as well. I also want to check out some places that are groomed for snowmobiles.
Anything more you can think of that would help people who might be interested in getting into the sport but feel intimidated to try something new?
They should try it! A friend and I were talking about it last winter and one of the things we like about it is that it has a really short learning curve, unlike skiing or snowboarding. You pick it up really quickly so you don’t need lessons, lift tickets, or the frustration of trying to learn something new as an adult. Plus it’s really fun! Everyone who tried my sled last winter had huge smiles on their faces. I think they felt like a kid again!