Saturday, September 12, 2009

Missed it by that much

Last week was my first flight at Baldy, and it was an unstable day with a 30% chance of rain. Rain in Eastern Washington? It only rains 4 inches a year - how bad could it be?

We arrived at the "the rock", which is the normal meeting place, at 11:30, and the sky was looking great. Being a visitor to the site, there was a 7 page waiver to fill out, complete with a paragraph to copy saying the usual stuff about danger and death. Then there was the figuring out who was going to ride with who to the top of the hill, loading up for the 15 minute ride to the top, then the site briefing, complete with hiking to the north, south, east and west launches.

By the time we had the bags out of the sky it was beginning to look like 30% was more like 100%, and it was going to be now or never, so I pitched off the hill with the first drops beginning to fall. It reminded me of Kahana and running downwind to escape the liquid sun.

There was light lift, and I maintained as I crossed the valley, only to find myself ridge soaring on the downwind edge of the shower. When the shower passed, the wind lightened, and I was faced with the ugly choice of landing, landing or landing. I chose the latter and top landed on a nice hill only a couple of hundred feet below the baldy launch (center with the tower).

I discovered it is quite nice to be on a hill with no one but yourself and your wing. I sat and watched as the weather slowly cleared and began to look more flyable. The sun eventually came out, and I strapped back in, hoping to get back to the great looking sky that was still just off to the south. The cycles began to pick up, but just as it looked like there was hope, the sun ducked back behind some clouds, and I knew the day was done. I launched, and found a couple of thermals, but nothing that would lift me high enough to transition across the steep gulley between me and the blue sky and fluffy clouds. Heading in to land, I spotted the very elusive Eastern Washington Rainbow - it twinkled for just a short time, then disappeared like a dream.


Alex said...

Great story, Doug. I'm sure you will make up for that flight with a long one someday soon - please keep us posted. Is Baldy close to where you're living now or is it a ways off?

Berndt said...

Hehe, that sounds like the same cold front that caught me after a few days of hiking in Glacier NP, and then kep dogging me all the way to Denver. Didn't get wet once though, the showers were always just a few miles away!
Great story!