Friday, April 22, 2011

Thermic 26 Mile XC: Makapuu to Hauula Beach Park

This beautiful, light, very east, fully thermic day, with high cloud base, started with a call from Sidehill Thom: get your gear and let's go! We met at Makapuu, along with Brazilian Ray and his lovely daughter Liliana, as well as Aussie visitor Adrian and his wife. Thom, Adrian and I all went up to Cactus to start the day's epic adventure, to who knows where, but expectations were abounding! Here is my story of happiness as I pranced near the clouds close to the gods. Head in the clouds, feet in the sand. Amazing, and lucky we live Hawaii...

First off, we helped Adrian off in steady 10 mph easy Cactus lift. Then Thom and I raced up to follow on the perfect day. After a short cruise toward Rabbit Isle, Thom and I started the journey. As it was very light and east, it was hard to get serious altitude on the Makapuu ridge. Finally a cloud appeared over Ironwoods, and the adventure started! Up to 1,800' on glide, to cowshit thermal, where I found another cloud and went up to 2,800'. This is when I realized it was definitely a thermal only day, and flying from cloud to cloud was a must in order to find thermal lift. Next stop was Puu O Kona, arriving with serious altitude at 3,200' and from there a flatland glide towards Olomana, following a cloud sreet and staying at base, jumping from cloud to cloud.

Olomana was tough, as the clouds were sparse, but I hung out in the lee until a wispy appeared, and tracked it towards the Pali at 2,500' in zeros. But I bailed from the glide halfway there, toward another nice cloud above the Pali. A small cloud but with huge lift, at 900 to 1,000 fpm, that let me climb up to 4,200' in blue skies as the cloud evaporated. Then I got a few more bumps to 4,500' while I was talking to Reaper, who was on the radio at his house. At this point, no clouds were in sight, but I was remembering where I'd seen all the wispies forming down the range, and sure enough, as I approached all these spots, up I went to 4,500' again and again! It was easy to cross all the big valleys, as the thermals were so good and easy to core to such high altitudes, with few clouds to worry about.

Arriving down at Waihole and Waikane Valleys, the lift was shutting down out front, and I noticed a super light north track on Kaneohe Bay, so I pulled in tight for the first time, to find a fantastic slow but good climb in ridge lift now, with more clouds forming towards Kahana. Getting as high as I could behind Triangle Peak, reaching 3,100' the main range, I then followed a cloud street towards Kualoa and Triangle Peak. With the light wind it was an easy 12-15 mph forward speed glide, to drop in over the Triangle. From there I climbed out pretty fast to 3,200' as I was talking to Bon Bon, who looked out her house window to see a colorful speck trying to advance to the coast.

Now I was on glide to the coast through Kaaawa Valley, taking the left ridge behind Kaaawa school on a quarter speed bar the whole way. One big 50% collapse on bar woke me up at a low 900' altitude, just in the lee of reaching the front, on the coast behind Kaaawa school. Arriving at 800' in the perfect north facing bowl, I was able to slowly climb to 2,800' and cross deep behind Crouching Lion and Kahana Bay almost over the beach. Lift was fading rapidly now, as full cloud cover came to cover the sun, and the sea breeze was almost non existant. Duck came on the radio to say there was zero wind at his house.

Arriving at the front peak of Kahana, I slowly scratched up to 1,400' and went back for Puu Piei, where I barely got up to 1,900' and went on glide from there across Punaluu Valley to the Sacred Falls side. Coming in low, I almost gave up 4 or 5 times, but I hung in there until I got the last thermal of the day, riding it up to 1,500' and gliding to the Peak behind Big Al's house. There I came in so low there was no chance, or at least it would have taken forever to sqeak out a save there, so I just went on glide at around 600' to Haula Beach Park, passing directly over Duck's house on approach.

Big Mahalos to Duck, who showed up at my 3 1/2 hour, 26 mile destination with cold brews to ease my excitement. Not only that but he and Ginger gave me a ride all the way back to Makapuu!!! As we passed Hygienics, we stopped to pick up Maui Doug, after his epic late afternoon 18 mile XC! Way to go!

Did I mention I love my Sol Torck! Also, in a week or two, my brand new Sol Torck II will arrive! I'm all excited! Aloha and good flying, get up and go far...

Mad Dog


mauimark said...

Wow and cool and epic!!!

Brazilian Ray said...

amazing day! and you almost did not take your jacket!!!! love the pics!

Thom said...

Met Mad Dog at the LZ this fine morning and he was worried that it might be to East and he was thinking of going to Kahana......well you did and then some.

I was behind the Mad Dog and couldn't grab anything at Iron Woods, I was circling there as he reported the lift he was getting at each spot along the way. Finally I made it to Puu o kona. Where I was listening to Mad Dog bench up over the Pali to 4K. On my 2nd try to cross to Olomana I missed the cloud I wanted got low and made it to the Olomana Golf Course where I had a beer with Goto at the club house and ride back to MPU with the Reaper. As we drove back We saw Maui Doug heading down range. he was so high I figured he would make it.
Got a 2nd flight in but stayed local. There's always next time.

Congrats Mad Dog and Maui Dog your racking up some mileage.

MauiDoug said...

Awesome flight Mad Dog! Congratulations! Thanks Sensei Mad Dog for always sharing your XC knowledge! I have and still am learning so much from you, thank you so much! Once your Torck 2 arrives I guess all we will see from you will be vapor trails! :-)

MauiDoug said...

Thanks again Duck and Ginger for the ride back to Makapuu and the refreshments! You both are the best!

Anonymous said...

I have always looked at the Kaawa Valley route, I am glad you tried it for us, I am sure others will follow. Well done.


JK said...

What a great flight, Mad Dog! As Maui Doug said, we have much to learn from you. Do you have a track log?

Anonymous said...

G'day Fellas!
What an awesome flight Mad Dog! Being and Aussie tourist, I had no idea how far you guys had flown until I drove to Kahana the next day. Awesome!
Brilliant photos too Mad Dog!
Thanks so much to you Mad Dog and to Thom too. You guys were so helpful to me at launch on Cactus and being a beginner i don't think I will ever be truelly able to wipe the Makapuu and Kahana grin off my face as long as I live.
I'm coming back soon.
Thanks again Ray also. We'll be in touch!

Eric Sr. said...

Sweet, very cool and loved the pictures!