Take A Ride On The Devil's Shingle!
We were sitting in the car in North Conway waiting for the EMS to open, so I decided to read aloud from an old book I have called The White Mountain Scrapbook. I came across an exhilarant entry about something called the Devil's Shingle.
But first, a little context. In the 19th century, after they built the Cog Railway -- the train that goes up to the top of Mount Washington -- the workers needed a quick way down, so they came up with this insane idea:
We were just a few hours away from driving the Auto Road up Mount Washington, ourselves -- and a little tweaked about the steep, slow, windy drive down -- and this set my adventurous gears turning. Man, I'd love to ride one of these things. Funny, to be nervous about being in a car on a narrow dirt road going at a grade of 18% down a mountain cliff, but eager to ride a tiny board down a metal rail at lightning speed.
I had to know more, so I dug out The Story of Mount Washington and found some wonderful anecdotes:
Every time I think something is dangerous or insane, I remember that it's been done before. And often a hundred years ago, by someone with little precedent. Even when the mountaintop newspaper, Among The Clouds, needed to be delivered earlier than its competitors, men would ride bundles of papers down on their slideboards.
It's tragic that some dumb people would jump onto the slideboards and take a ride on the Devil's Shingle to their sloppy dismemberment. But clearly people were able to properly exhibit mastery on this ride. It puts some of New Hampshire's well-known thrills -- such as the ziplines and gondolas, or even the rickety wooden Yankee Cannonball rollercoaster down at Canobie Lake Park -- in the category of "kiddie ride," if you ask me.
We certainly had a lot of fun driving the Auto Road. And thank the low gears for a nice, smooth descent. I got to enjoy harrowing views of the Great Gulf, but the driver of the car was pretty focused on not topsiding into it. I'll always daydream of the day I get to ride the Devil's Shingle, though. Put that on the bucket list.