Friday, May 20, 2011

Uprange is the New Downrange

Sometimes we have to recalibrate our expectations after the bar has been repeatedly raised. Thom and Mad Dog have shown us that Kahana is the new Hygienics. And as Thom and Mad Dog reminded us yesterday, Hukilau is indeed the new Pounders. But yesterday, Mad Dog planted a seed in my brain that is only just beginning to sprout: Uprange is the New Downrange!

Mad Dog had made a bold call for the day's task: we were going to tag the Pyramid, and perhaps proceed even further uprange. Even though we did not have our preferred northeasterly conditions for bay crossing. I would never have thought seriously about crossing the bay in these easterly conditions. But I couldn't get the idea out of my head once Mad Dog had put it there.

And I knew I had a short window because I had to pick Logan up from school for his bass lesson. So I ran up the hill and launched before the other guys arrived. As they were showing up, I was tanking up, tagging cloudbase at around 2,800 in a nice thermal over Puu Piei. I sped out and got a little help from a cloud over the bay, arriving above the Crouching Lion at about 1,200 feet, and chugging through the easterly headwind on half bar to get up in Hidden Valley behind Bobo's. I was so surprised to actually find myself there on this kind of day! From there I watched the other guys launch and I enjoined them to follow me, before continuing around the corner.

From above Kaaawa, I eyed the day's prospective goal, Puu Ohulehule. Cloudbase was above the top of the peak (which looms to a lofty 2,265 feet), but just barely. And the clouds were pretty thick back there.

I made my way out to the front of Kualoa, still waiting for company. But it didn't sound like anyone was going to be able to join me. I guess I was pretty lucky to have snuck across the bay when I did. This was turning into one of those bittersweet solo missions. The thing is, when the wind is more easterly, it's hard to get over to Kualoa, but once you're over there, that east wind provides the best conditions to soar above the ranch and the park.

From here, I continued to eye the big pyramid of Ohulehule. I knew it would be an easy downwind glide straight over there. But getting back would be tricky. I might have to land out in some unusual spot, or at best, Maui Doug's kite park. But then I'd probably have to wait for the bus, and I'd never get back in time. Plus the clouds were still hanging thick over the range back there. At least, those were my excuses at the time.

So I entertained myself with an extended tour of one of my favorite ridges, Moo Kapu o Haloa, swinging wide around incoming clouds, and at one point taking an envious phone call from Bonnie as she captained her ferry across the fishponds below. She said all her passengers were looking up and murmuring my name, though perhaps challenged by the foreign consonant in the middle. Thanks for the call, Bonnie! I hope to see you up above Kualoa one day soon.

As my time started to run short, I sped back to Kahana to find some excitement brewing regarding a tree rescue. I had to land and speed to town for Logan's lesson, but Thom and Allan raced up to help with the extraction.

As I sped away, I vowed to remember that easterly conditions don't mean we can't plan an uprange mission. Next time, when my window isn't so limited, I expect to have a full complement of wingmen who will lead me uprange to Puu Ohulehule. That peak is always so close and yet it remains so far away! But after this trip, it feels a little bit closer.

1 comment:

Thom said...

Thanks for the call Alex, I enjoyed this story and was planning on only reading the one, but I can't help it.

Yes, I declare from now on if conditions are at all close we should try to cross first instead of 'turning left'.

I have a goal of the reverse run from KNA to MPU. Of course Mad Dog's record of MPU to Sacred Falls and back to MPU will be a goal after my 4th and 5th ball grow in.

Let's Do It.

Its Time to Fly 'Up-Range' So Get Your Gear, third nut and Go!!!