In the realm of the Canadian Forces, a toboggan is a large, roughly barge-shaped hunk of metal (capacity ~200lbs, approx. 6' in length and 2.5' wide) with a handle the same length (for pushing and steering) and a harness.
Not for dogs, mind you, or horses, or what have you.
For men with snowshoes.
Alright, alright, let's be gender-correct here - men or women of the Canadian Forces. Soldiers. Or more accurately, poor bloody bastards who, like me, wind up hauling a fully-loaded, 200lb toboggan through hilly country in -30 C weather, wearing snowshoes. My MCpl tells me Canadian soldiers are the best in the world because this proves we can fight in any weather! I ask him, who would be so stupid as to attack when it's -40 with the windchill? He tells me to shut up and keep pulling the sled.
Now, when you're pulling a 200lb toboggan - especially when you're the man in the front of the leads, ever-so-gratefully following the trail already broken by two pairs of snowshoes ahead - your primary concerns are:
- deep snow
- why didn't I volunteer to push the goddamn sled, fuck
- Tim Horton's Coffee & Doughnuts
Hills and valleys together form the main difficulty in hauling a fully-loaded sled. Hills, because - if you're in the front - you're providing the initial momentum to move the sled up the hill, and to sustain its movement; and valleys, because if you don't get out of the way of the fully-loaded sled if-and-when the guy pushing loses his grip-and-or-footing, you'll soon be enjoying the benefits of military insurance policies and learning how to complete a 9-liner for your own medevac.
Deep snow is a secondary concern if you're pulling the sled - since, presumably, the people breaking trail for you will have either managed to avoid it, or blundered through it after repeated falls - but is still a concern. And as a Canadian, Tim Horton's is presumably always on your mind.
Oh, I almost forgot.
When the military GPS that the MCpl is using to navigate fails (spectacularly, somehow confusing NW with SW), you will veer rapidly off-course, discovering that the map you were issued somehow failed to show the fence that is now blocking your way to the objective - an insurmountable obstacle. At least it's not electrified, I say. Shut up and set up the observation point, my MCpl says.
You now face 10 minutes of boredom followed by the trek back, which includes the fun challenge of turning the toboggan around, and then - for some reason - breaking a new trail to the old trail that lies over the rise past the woods you set up the OP in, instead of following the old trail.
I think this writeup stopped being about toboggans about three lines in, Canuck. Wrap it up. - Ed.
In the end, we all made it back without frostbite and with all our kit. But I still hate that toboggan. It's a good thing it didn't have a name, because-
I'm cutting you off before you make a lame Citizen Kane joke. -Ed.