Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thracian Horseman

The English word "Hero" is derived from the Greek "Heros" which derives its meaning in part from the lore of the Thracian Horseman -- the war-god. The horseman has evolved through myth depicted as The Madara Rider and more recently as St. George. St. George on a horse, slaying a dragon ...

According to Joseph Campbell, a hero must go though a number of common steps (Departure, Initiation, Return) in his quest or journey -- the culmination of which is the freedom of the fear of death -- the freedom to live. As paragliders, each flight for us is some combination of St. George slaying the dragon and the hero's journey. Each flight is a departure from our day-to-day, a call to adventure, and a venture into the unseen. Today I had the opportunity to slay my own dragons and cross the threshold of the mundane.

This was my first day back after an almost three week sojourn into the wastelands of work and travel. I dared the corporate conference room, overcame the lethargy of the "tube of pain" (United and Hawaiian Air) between Hawaii, Australia and Washington DC, and laughed in the face of bureaucratic apathy; but it was all for naught -- I spent weeks in meetings where the only words I heard were "Two downwind trips in one flight from Kahana" and "Sweet Summer Weekend" followed by "Easy Day on the East Side" -- it was a pitiful torment.

Today started as normal as any other misty morning in Hauula. I was up early due mostly to the fact that I had been traveling for weeks. I tried to work (FlyFlyFly). Tried to catch up on email (FlyFlyFly). Checked the wind, checked Wind Lines, checked the wind, called Alex...

I decided after a brief discussion to meet Alex at Kahana and see what we could see. Well, what we saw was no less than a spectacular downrange XC to Pounders. It was thermic (50% collapse at Punalu'u), but we scratched and clawed and held on for dear life -- the thermals today were not of the "circling" type -- some were bullet thermals, and others were almost linear (where you could offset with weight shift and ride almost vertically).

We worked up above Pu'u Piei and headed over to the Punalu'u ridge. I arrived a little low and thought a few times about heading to Punalu'u to land at the beach, but Alex's determination rubbed off on me and, as I saw him getting up, I decided to fight for it. I slowly and somewhat roughly benched up. The air was rough but I was having a good time with the challenge of getting up. I tried to 360 a few times, but always ended up falling out -- the thermals were still disorganized due to my low proximity; as I benched up, they got a little better, but not much.

I felt like I had to fight for my altitude, but for some reason I was in a fighting mood. I worked my way up and flew over to the Hauula ridge. There were some lift bands there, but they also seemed to be disorganized. My wing demanded a lot of "active piloting" today! I had one thermal that was a "good" thermal and I 360'd my way up all the while drifting back over the ridge. I left the lift early as I felt I was drifing too far back. The cloudbase was low, and hidden inside were dragons. Huge booming thermals, columns of lift topped by lenticular pileus caps. I wrestled with the conditions for a little while above Hauula. Sometimes catching thermals (or being caught by them) and avoiding sink as I made my way above the cross on the hill. After a time, I had had enough (altitude and attitude) so I flew in to land at Pounders.

It was a great flight and I had a good time. I enjoyed my little hero's journey and maybe, just maybe, I slayed at least one dragon!

Here is my GPS track:
Flight 63

Others also had flights today: Ka'a'awa Larry had a great soaring session; Jared had multiple tandems and a landing that threaded the eye of the needle; BI Charlie had a scary launch, followed by a less scary launch; and Maui Doug and Kevin had a nice tandem; all the while Berndt was soaring in his new wing; George had a nice birthday flight; and Scrappy and Reaper were in instructor mode. All in all a great day.



Flash said...

Great writeup Duck! Thanks for sharing -- I'm looking forward to some XC adventures together...
After a week of being grounded I snuck in a short flight at MPU today -- didn't realize how much I missed being up in the air!

Duck said...

Man am I with you!!! I really look forward to some local XC and Chamonix fun!

Mad Dog said...

Well written Duck & very great to have you back in the Para/Kiting circles! Hope I get to fly with you soon, work is getting in my way of fun but I have to take it when I get it...
Aloha & Welcome Home

Thom said...

Welcome back Duck,
Thanks for my coffee read. Sorry did not make it out there yesterday but I was beat, even looked at MPU an it was good but did not have the energy to hike up to Juice. Feeling better today. Might sneak out, and have Friday to myself so far.