The snowdrifts near the tee box on the third hole at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs are deep, very deep.

So deep, in fact, that they rise up past the waist of an average-sized adult, a good three to four feet of snow. Trying to wade through them is an exercise in absurdity; it's nearly impossible to navigate without falling on your face.


It is all the more impressive then that eight-year-old Jack Hewitt and nine-year-old Brian Fraser have conquered the giant heaps, which are as tall, if not taller, than they are. But several feet of snow cannot keep Jack and Brian from getting to their ultimate destination that lies just ahead: a sloping fairway transformed into sledding nirvana.

Jack, wrapped tight in a blue ski suit, adjusts his oversized ski goggles one last time before takeoff. "Here I go," he shouts as he plunges head first onto his inflatable Sno Tube and zooms down the fairway, which dips sharply on its way toward Sengekontacket Pond. Brian follows soon after on his sled, a hard plastic sit-down model, and the two boys disappear into the falling snow.

The slope at Farm Neck is wide and steep and features well-packed snow, making for an extra fast track. Jack and Brian return from the bottom, out of breath but ready for more.

As parents around the Island grabbed shovels and dug themselves out from last weekend's blizzard, the kids grabbed sleds, toboggans, saucers, tubes - even Rubbermaid garbage can covers - and ran for the hills. The several feet of snow that blanketed the Island turned every slope and hillside into sledding central.


"When it snows this much, there really is only one thing to do: you go sledding," says Jack's father, Richard, who himself enjoys a few runs down the course. "Places like this are just perfect for the kids, and for some adults, too."

Betsy Shay of Chilmark agrees. She has brought an SUV full of teenagers anxious to take advantage of some snow days. She and her brood were in the process of hitting all the big hills.

"We're slowly making our way across the Island," she says.

All of the sledding hot spots are crammed this week. From the third hole at Farm Neck to the hill at the Tashmoo overlook to the steep slopes up-Island, Vineyarders were out, taking advantage of the more than two feet of powder.

"We love coming here because there is more room and usually less people than Tashmoo," Mr. Hewitt says. "Tashmoo has a great hill, but it's always crowded and the kids can sometimes crash into each other."


Asked which they prefer, Jack and Brian are silent, instead watching several high school students pile onto a sled and barrel downhill over a jump. The resulting crash elicits smiles.

"I want to go over the jump," Jack says, eying the mound of snow piled up at the base of the slope. "Oh yeah," replies Brian.

The scene repeats all over the Island. At the Tashmoo overlook, a staple for Vineyard sledders, the hill is mobbed. Cars spill out from the overlook parking lot, up State Road toward Vineyard Haven.

Not surprisingly, Shirley's Hardware in Vineyard Haven went through two orders of Sno Tubes this week, according to owner Jesse Steere.


"Oh yeah, they're flying off the shelves," Mr. Steere says. "Two feet of snow will do that."

These days, sleds are not what they used to be. Gone are the days of wooden toboggans and Flexible Flyers. Instead, inflatable sleds like the Sno Tube are the preferred choice. With its round, smooth surface and sturdy hand grips, the Sno Tube glides over the snow, and is very fast.

Sno Tubes dot the landscape at Sweetened Water Farm in Edgartown, equally popular and just as crowded as Tashmoo. Denizens zoom down the sweeping hillside as parents try to find parking.

Over in Blacksmith Valley in Chilmark, the slopes look more like a scene from the Winter X Games. A massive jump, built with a dozen bails of hay and hard-packed snow, looms in the middle of one hill. With the launching pad a solid five feet high, the jump sends anyone who braves it hurtling into the sky. Sledders, tubers - even snow boarders - take turns careening off the makeshift jump.

If you are looking for big air, this is the place to find it.

"It's not as bad as it looks, really," Mike James says, with a small caveat: "Once you get the hang of it."

Mr. James and his friends - John Gaskill, Evan Hammond and Matt Kurth - have been flying over the jump on their Sno Tube, trying to master various stunts. Mr. James demonstrates a favorite trick, which involves switching sitting positions in mid-flight.

"You start out kneeling on the tube, and then once airborne, pull them out from underneath and land in the sitting position," he says with a smile. "It isn't as hard as it sounds."


To prove it, he grabs the tube and, although he has performed the stunt numerous times, briefly stares down at the ramp. There is a pause. You can see the adrenaline begin to pump.

He takes a running start and hits the ramp with considerable speed, rocketing more than eight feet into the air. A few shifty moves in flight and he lands, sitting, on the tube and in control. A perfect landing. The stunt draws approving nods and hoots from his peers.

"That's crazy," says a bystander who has not yet dared to jump. "I don't know if I am ready for that today."

There is no hurry. Deep drifts and forecasts of more snow promise many opportunities ahead.