Friday, July 13, 2007

What a Trip...

"Wherever you go, there you are", seems to be the story of my life. Another summer chasing the wind and road tripping and hanging out with friends. This was was my second year of the Rat Race with the Hawaiians and it was exciting and fun as was last years.

This year we brought along with us my two newest students Joey & Rich. I made them no promises of flying as the Rat Race can be windy and strong and is sometimes no place for beginners and maybe even PG's altogether.

With much enthusiasm, Joey, Rich, Nick, and I all flew together to Seattle. The weather looked awesome. We stopped at Paul's to get geared up for camping. After the 1st night of Para-boozing we figured we better lay low after keeping up all the other pilots.

Joey, Rich, Paul, and I volunteered to be drivers and launch crew for the Rat race. While Joey and Rich drove a few days, they also learned alot about thermal flying and high altitude launching from watching the comp pilots. Boy, did they learn alot...

Day three we decided it was time to turn them loose on the lower launch. Both learned to forward launch, and had nice morning flights into a rather large (20 acre) LZ. Day five we had them launch off the high launch, and they had they're 1st high altitude thermal flights, and on day six, we launched them a bit later into some sweet thermals where they got above launch and thermaled for at least an hour with some wind Tech's. It was now 15 minutes prior to the opening for the comp, and all the 100 + comp pilots were eager to join to the new guys in there sweet thermals too. So, based on their experience level I figured for safety they better land before they were bumper cars in the thermals. It was awesome for them and they're nervous but proud instructor.

My job at both the Rat Race & the US Nationals was to chase the severely lost and possibly injured pilots. Both required alot of communication skills and good GPS tracking. I was really happy doing the job. It was some great 4X4 action, and also a bit of a challenge. I'm planning on doing it again next year.

After the Nationals at Lakeview I was looking to run away from the wind and head North for some new adventure's, so I headed to Bend, Oregon to see our old friend's Troy and Carrie.

Motorhead Paul stayed behind for the Lakeview 4th of July Fly-in and ended up with some great flying that week to wind up winning the PG Cumulative XC 1st Place award. Good Job Paul.

George, Diana (Aspen, Colo), and I caravaned they whole way together thru the high desert and I saw some amazing ruins and Indian country. We arrived at Pine mountain the next day and didn't fly until Glass-off due to the super strong conditions and high winds during the day. Glass-off was epic with Troy beating me up kiting to launch thru the Sage brush.

The next day, Troy took us to Mt. Bachelor above Bend and we hiked a bit above the Gondola 1/2 way up the mountain. Too bad we didn't hike to the top? The wind was forecast for light Northeast and we had strong Southwest. Ugh! We hiked down to the beer and hotdogs at the gondola. That night Diana and I camped at a beautiful lake in the mountains.

I decided that I needed a welcome break from the wind so I headed to my cabin in Pemberton, BC 9 hours away. Long drive and no traffic due to the fact it was the 4th of July. Everybody was already partying and in Canada it wasn't a holiday. Canada Day is July 1st.

The next day I awoke in my cabin at Lillooet Lake to find the most beautiful morning. Sunny and hot and no wind. I headed for luanch to find everyone getting great flights over launch, but soon it baked out and we decided to get some beer and head for Mosquito spring lake. You can swim in cool drinkable water.

The next day was perfect for beginners all morning with light thermals, no wind, and easy launches. I helped land the students, and then we went up to get our butts kicked. I launched my new Airwave Sport III into some very strong thermal conditions. Now understand my bump tolerance at this point is low, so I took it easy. After some minor seat adjustments I was off into some epic late afternoon climbs of 1400 fpm and sink of the same. Didn't get high, but I did fly for two hours in bullet conditions and managed a perfect top landing to retrive my Bronco.

The next day I installed a new skylight in my kitchen, went fishing in my boat and caught a 3 lb Rainbow trout, then joined the gang for some unbelievable glass-off again. This time we flew 20km downrange into a light West wind and I was able to get to 8,500 agl and fly back in '0' sink conditions to top crash into the bushes on launch (pics later).

After receiving so many calls from Hawaii to go home now, I reluctantly left Pembie and flew home to the lovely (not) weather. Still wishing for more thermal action, I'm planning to head back to BC in August to fly and work on the cabin some more. All are welcome to join me for some more epic flying, fishing, and relaxing on the lakes? The house is only 2 hours from Vancouver and 1/2 hour from Whistler.

It was an awesome trip - again...

Pete "Reaper" Michelmore


Nick said...

Pete, you sure do know how to have a vacation! You could write a Fromme book of paragliding travel. Incredible job retrieving all the downed PGers; I’m sure they all have a special affinity to red Broncos now! I hope to never need your Bronco in a future Rat Race! Thanks for all the hospitality between you and Motorhead Paul. The camping experience was awesome, I give it 2 thumps up even for an AF guy.

Anonymous said...

At 7/13/2007 09:09:00 PM, Bob said...

I second what Nick said Pete. It sure was nice having you coordinating our retrieves. I was able to tune into the retrieve freq. and hear how you were keeping all involved on track. It was comforting to know that all I had to do was land near the Bronco and I'd have a nice cold one to sip on while I folded up. You did a great job again this year. Thanks.


Gravity said...

Thanks Guys...
I sure had a blast doing it, and I knew that you guys were pushing the envelope.

For all your efforts I figured a cold frosty one on retrieve was just what the doctor ordered.

See ya next year. Not sure the Bronco will, but I'm crossing my fingers.