Sunday, September 4, 2016

Around Twain-Harte

We spent Labor Day weekend up in Twain Harte. It was Maddy's nap time when we got there, so Rick and I went and visited the local fire lookout. It was really interesting seeing what the daily job is like. Of course 1 hour is considerably different than 25 years!

It's tricky getting good shots through a telescope. I've clearly got some practice to do. This is Three Chimneys from 27 + 3/4 Miles away

I wonder how much radiation is emitted absorbed there.

Sunday Rick and Rena took us over to Columbia State Park, I had no idea this place existed. It's a great place for kids to get a feel for some history.

There are lots of exposed granite rocks exposed to climb on. Maddy really enjoyed that. The rocks are exposed from the Hydraulic gold mining back in the day.

The whole town is preserved as a living museum. Surprisingly it is free. I hope it stays open and maintained.  

Maddy eventually conceded to some role play.

Down the road at Ironstone winery, there are some neat relics from the gold mining era. Some pretty serious gold was found by this rock muncher.

This forty-four pound specimen "Gold pocket" Ironstone's Crown Jewel was held onto despite an offer of $20 million. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Herd Peak

Gerry talked us into scoping out Herd peak, as Lakeview was blown out Monday. Driving toward Mt Shasta was spectacular for a good hour. The view at launch is amazing.

Launch conditions were just fine even though it seemed intimidatingly strong. Scenery WOW !

The landing averaged out my previous days' glory ... What happened was ... A string of silly mistakes, first I didn't pack my drougue very well and struggled (and failed to get it out of the pocket). Then I started with a compromised approach, not terrible, but not great either, with that distraction and focusing on the downhill landing I forgot to rise my visor. I've done this before too, the fish bowl type distortion near the ground makes my think I'm at landing height when I'm still 5 ft up.  The rest is history, no real harm done, except maybe my radio cords are unhappy. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

L for Lakeview

At Lakeview this year we chose to fly from Black Butte, instead of Sugar because of the landowner issue there. Its really too bad as the geography, prevailing wind make for a fun race back to the town that most pilots can join in with an d get back at a reasonable time, while giving the locals something to see as a number of gliders land at goal in town.

Instead we flew north along Aberts Rim which is indeed spectacular, but landed at Wagontire, back intime to find all but one diner closed.

Nevermind that though, we are there for the flying primarily and Lakeview is generally great to spectacular.

It took a while, but eventually I climbed through the inversion into the strong westerly and topped out about 13k. After missing the first climb, the westerly and higher climb actually caught me back up with Wayne and Tom.

We flew close, but completely different lines along the rim. I went high and deep, Wayne raced along at 10k, Tom took strong climbs and ridge soared. 

The rim from the ground is spectacular too.

This year the geyser was still firing on July 4th. The next day I flew way out front at 14k thinking I had shot some really cool pictures only to find the gopro had been pushed into the ground by a dust devil at launch and turned off. Still, on the flip side, I took first in the spot landing competition. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hat Creek

Had some picturesque flying this summer particularly around the 4th of July.

The trip started with a Friday evening glass-off at Hat Creek. Hat creek rim is about 25 Miles north of Lassen Volcano.

Conditions were perfect. Lavabeds were releasing lots of smooth lift late in the evening, which is why this site is typically flown.

It was super hot in the air, I completely overdressed. 

The scenery was great even though a little hazy.

Landing in camp is great, it seems like a while since I had a social landing. I can see why this is such a popular site, it has taken me many years to get around to flying here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Heidi, Maddy and I went up to join Rick, Rena, Kayla, Jeff, Chris and Kendal on Lake Don Pedro. It is pretty close to McClure and while I've flown over it I've never actually been in the water. It was surprisingly warm.

Tried wake surfing but could not get up on the wake board.

It was Maddys first time on a boat.

And first time in a lake. She seems to like the water.

The next day we checked out Pinecrest Lake..

Captain Maddy commanding the pedalo.

Maddy approves of the nice views, it was nice and peaceful out on the water.

Refreshing !

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial weekend -- Owens valley

For many years Memorial holiday weekend meant trying to get a few spectacular flights in the Owens Valley. Some years were great other the weather made it not worth going but it has been many years since I had the opportunity and this year really was amazing! The first day ended up being a practice day up to Bishop before the weather closed in.

Sunday was the big distance day, although I struggled a bit the first 20 miles or so. One of the key motivators to fly Memorial weekend is to see the peaks snow capped, before it melts. It really does enhance the scenery.

Every canyon has some wow factor, rock formations alpine lakes, deep green pine trees, glaciers, it is almost constantly overwhelming.

An occasional slap of turbulence keeps one focused though ;) On up to Bishop, where usually the wind turns west, and normally we would jump over to the West facing White mountains. Today was different however, prevailing was light south with a touch of east. We would stay on the Sierra, exciting because I'd never had the opportunity before to continue up the east side.

Almost when down in Bishop but got a screaming climb from the deck to 14k, right there in the valley. It was right about here my camera quit, but I carried on up over the pass to Crowley (where we launched the next day) and there it got interesting, a cloud gave up and started raining back behind McGee and Mamoth. Seeing that I figured the lift would be on the east side of the valley, so I went around over the glass house mountains, over to Mono lake, which is quite an intimidating stretch of trees and lava flows. But there are clearing here and there, and I had enough altitude to go for it. I ended the flight at Bridgeport airport, for 137 miles, the sky was turning menacing.

The next Day we flew from McGee, a mountain I hadn't launched from before. It is really stunningly beautiful.

I actually enjoyed this flight more than the previous day. The ceiling was higher, 16k I think, it was sunnier, and we took a totally different route anyway. Further west more over the Sierra. There's Mamoth ski resort, way below.

Almost decked it behind this crazy looking feature, (Wilson butte) it's some remains of a decomposed volcano. Anyway I scored and climb as I was unzipped. I was glad as I really was not looking forward to "arriving" in that field. At 8200 feet MSL and in wind shadow I'm sure it wouldn't have been pretty. 

And then the last crossing, June Lake ski resort and High Yosemite in the background. What a day Wayne and I glided into Lee Vining airport and we went back and got Paul from a nice field near by.

We were home in 6 hours as we'd landed in Lee Vining, It doesn't get much better than this ! Thanks to Ben for Driving it was great to hangout in the Owens :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

KMs Memorial howl.

Earlier this year a flying companion passed away, KM was a pilot many looked up to and not just literally. He was an unassuming considerate man of the wild, an inspiration and an admirable spirit. The Coyote Howl was dedicated to his memories this year.

The club has installed a nice plaque to the right of launch. Everyone going to launch and will see it and head cloud bound with a reticent smile. 

The day of the howl yielded interesting weather conditions, big sink and moderate lift. I ended up quickly on the ground and decided to give another go.

Glad I did as the day really turned on. Cloudbase was about 8k over Rancho Del Oro.

The plan was to head to Merced Falls and see what the sky looked like when I got there.

From Barrett Cove it looked great.

And even at Merced falls it looked decent, although there was a big cu-nimb lurking in the valley.

After the last climb the air went very quiet and I was quickly on the ground heading back to Merced falls area to get by a road. When I landed the wind had shifted north and the air was cold. The thunder head had flushed the heat away with some front from afar. A fun flight anyway and back to the LZ I went. (thanks Wayne)

Maddy couldn't be there but joined in spirit.