Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rock & Roll

Saturday was a really fun day at Kahana. I was rocked by strong thermals as I made a morning bay crossing, and Nick was rolled by rotor at the NW launch in the afternoon. We followed up with a rocking party at the LZ, and many of us continued rocking and rolling until late in the evening.

Saturday dawned gorgeous and clear, looking like a postfrontal postcard. After stocking up with provisions, Jim and I hiked the north ridge in super light and north conditions. After several attempts to get up in the cross flow, followed by creative emergency toplandings, I finally figured out that I could get up pretty high in the leeside thermals bubbling off the launch ridge before tacking around the rhino horn and into the clean airflow. There wasn't really much air flowing there, and not much ridge lift. It sure was thermic though! After a long time working some ratty little tendrils, I caught a good one up to 1,800 feet and blazed across the bay, arriving over the Crouching Lion with around 1,000 feet.

I got low there for a while, and wasn't really sure it was going to work out for me, but I managed to work my way back up slowly in the dynamic lift. Again there wasn't much ridge lift - it was mostly thermic. Finally some friendly white-tailed tropic birds showed me where the best thermals were popping off, right over the condos.

As I connected with good lift and rose up to get established over there, I passed close by some hikers who were resting on their way up the ridgeline. They shouted "Howzit", and I returned the greeting. We were still close enough to converse, so they added, "You were lower than us for quite a while!" I didn't have a snappy comeback, so I just waved and continued to work my way up and around into Hidden Valley.

The falls in Hidden Valley were spectacular - the pictures I took really don't do them justice. There were several strands today, and the main one was really flowing well, with multiple pools visible, including the one at the very bottom. The falls appear to be at least 500 feet in height.

Meanwhile, Jim made his final attempt to get up in the increasingly light and cross airflow above the north ridge, but in vain, so he headed in to land. I cut my flight short and joined him since I had to run home and ferry Logan over to have lunch with his grandfather. I returned to find Thom and Don on the north ridge, and Maui Doug, Nick, Jeff, Jen and Mazzy at the LZ. By that time the airflow had clocked around west of north, to around 330 degrees on the sensor, and it looked unlikely that anyone would be flying.

We did fly the cooler for a while, but before we got too far along with that program, Nick said he was interested in checking out Anti-Kahana. It's been years since we've tried that finicky little spot on the other side of the bay. We hustled up the steep ridge, with Jim and Maui Doug along for moral support (but without their gear). Nick launched into a strong thermic cycle, but fell right out the back and got hammered hard in the rotor of the Crouching Lion, finally stabilizing his wing as he emerged out over the fishpond. Oh well - it was worth a try!

I didn't want to follow him down that way, but I did briefly examine the little north facing saddle next to the Crouching Lion, that looks down on the condos. It seemed launchable, but there were just too many factors that made it seem like a poor idea. So we followed Jim down an alternate descent route, some of it no more than a pig trail, but it was fun to make a loop out of that little hike. We returned to the LZ pretty well exhausted, and ready to continue our cooler depletion project. Berndt showed up and joined us for the last party session.

1 comment:

firedave said...

It is funny, same day but at Makapuu. The conditions were north and a bit strong, with Rabbit rotor in the bowl. But once you headed toward hang launch, you got boosted up to 2000ft+ easily without any of the penetration problems, smooth air and all. It looked to be on the windy side for a downranger on a PG, but the hang gliders were making the best of it, leaving Ironwoods headed straight for Olomana. Except for Kenny Boyd, who managed to lawn dart in 10' below the launch box and break a downtube.
It was a top ten acro day there, I probably attempted a dozen or so helicopters, before I came to the conclusion that I was getting worse, not better. Jorge was out there winding it up, with Frank and Jetflap ( a visitor from Oregon ;) joining us for their second flights of the day. I left there with Jorge and Scrappy doing tandems.

The point is that on the same day we can have completely different conditions at two different sights, not exactly how I would expect.