Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lofty skies over California

Last weekend, Sept 13, the perfect set of weather conditions came to together for high lift over the coastal ranges of California. Seeing the pattern and forecast Friday evening, Wayne and I scrambled to find a driver and get organised last minute.
Friday was an above average good day, Saturday was off the charts! And Sunday's forecast was amazing too but I had obligations that day. Anyway off we went early Saturday morning to the nearest convergence site, San Carlos Peak. Wind was blowing gently straight in as forecasted.
There's a small hike to launch, but it doesn't take too long.

While we were setting up, the sky started to show us it was time to get up there. We never actually got to cloudbase but it was probably in the range of 14k. Launch is around 4700ft, but nice landings are quite a glide away, so until one hits 8500ft you never feel that comfortable.

Launch doesn't look at all familiar even from just a few hundred feet away. San Carlos peak is riddled with abandoned mines, Bentonite, Mercury and Asbestos at least.

Up over launch.

From there Wayne and I headed over the back [SW], towards Priest Valley. First time this route has been tried.

We both climbed out to 12k, although Wayne was long gone by the time my climb got me there. You can see the two close asbestos mines.

But we met strong 15mph head winds over Los Gatos creek Valley, Wayne made it to Centre peak and decided enough was enough, time to head north.

Plan B - north. Hmmm not many landing options that way. And a big weird blanket of cloud shadowing and building. By the time I was high enough I was pretty much back over launch.

I made it through the shade, and headed for the sun light over Pinnacles, Wayne hung out in buoyant air. I misread the cloud and found myself on the wrong side of a shear, and on the ground in 20mph NE wind. Dusty ! Wayne cruized north 23 miles to the Tres Pinos training hill in glassy smooth air! Where he landed in totally calm conditions.  Neat Day ! Wayne managed a 70 mile dog leg. The sunset was evidence of Virga, Mammatus and wave.
We heard stories of Pilots getting to 13k from Hull Mountain to the north and 14k from Pine Mountain to the south flying previously unflown routes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

bridgeport classic 2014

With the new job, family , moving getting cars going and fixing things, I've been too busy to make it over to the real mountains this year so far. So I was stoked to make the Bridgeport classic. With launch @ 9500ft MSL I was stumbling around gasping for air the first day. I was pleased to have O2 for the flight which I set to D5, because I can. It certainly helped, judging by my actions once I returned to earth and switched it off.

Meanwhile, while Daddy was flying, the girls were enjoying Bridgeport Founders Day where there was rodeo, crafts, and gold mining history. It is a cool town to visit.

Sunday was the day, and we launched Sweetwater, a site a couple miles East of the 108 /395 junction and about 8 miles NW of Bridgeport.

The wind was a moderate NW pushing us towards Bodie Ghost-town. Lift was sparse and the sink was strong, but all well behaved. Wayne and I both got low near Bodie.

I zigged and Wayne zagged, I lucked into a low save (or is that a high save at 8400ft) Tremendous vistas of Mono Lake and the east Sierra.

After a few climbs to near 14k around Mono lake, I was headed for Boundary peak. I got toward the south end of Adobe meadows, but not quite to the north end of the Owens. Argh, so close!

Nice flight anyway :) Smooth thermals, and soft air. Easy launch, easy landing. I got first for the longest distance, Scot was second and Wayne 3rd.

The next day the air was inverted and wind direction not favourable, so Heidi, Maddy and I headed for Buckeye hot springs. 38.239, -119.325 It was a sporty ride for Maddy in her chariot, but she loved it.

Bridgeport through Mammoth area, seems to have more hot springs every time I go there. These ones are very nice.

Incredibly the Aspen are beginning to turn already, lack of water perhaps ? Though this place has seen more rain than the west side of California this season.

The rabbit brush is surely healthy this year. I fabulous weekend, and a huge thanks to Pam for putting on the event and sharing her house.