Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ua ka ua, kahe ka wai

"The rain rains, the water flows." And, boy did it flow today! I awoke this morning to an amazing winter's day -- in August! Light rain coming down, cool air, soft breezes. This, of course, was interspersed with pretty heavy rain. I was kinda in heaven. I went out and walked around in the rain, all the while smiling like a maniac. I don't know what it is about the rain we get here, but it makes me deliriously happy for no apparent reason. I know as a pilot, that the rain should put me off, but it simply doesn't. I've been waiting for the special convergence of a flyable post-frontal day, a high cloudbase, and waterfalls (lots of waterfalls) -- today was that day!

Honestly, I was not sure today would be a good day to fly. I'd checked the radar, and the winds aloft, and the sensors, and the picture was not looking good. Until about 1400hrs. At that point, the clouds and rain from the tropical depression to the south of the Big Island seemed to begin abating. I was watching a movie with Ginger and we had opened a bottle of wine; but, for some reason, I just held off. I had a feeling that the day was going to turn on in the afternoon, and that it would be good.

I saw some folks reporting good flights at Makapu'u. But, it was not tempting enough for me to drive past a potential flying site on the way to another potential flying site about an hour down the road. I KNEW that Kahana would work today. It just had to. Rain rains, water flows, wind blows. With this in mind, I met up with Alex and Jayson at Kahana at around 1630 this afternoon for what turned out to be an excellent flight.

We all met at the trailhead and quickly hiked up to high regular. The winds were a little light, but it felt pretty good and there was no texture or anything on the water that would cause any of us to pause. Alex assured me that it was gonna be good! Little did he know how good. In our banter on launch, we talked of how much fun it was going to be spotting waterfalls. You see, it had rained all day. This was as close as we could ever possibly come to post-frontal flying and we were aiming to see ourselves some waterfalls!

Alex launched first (of course), followed by me and then Jayson. We all staggered our way up the lift band arriving at Pu'u Piei a few minutes apart. Alex and I had a small lead on Jayson and there was some texture on the water, that we wanted to avoid, so we headed to Punalu'u to be quickly followed by Jayson. At Punalu'u, we had a fine time of buzzing the hill in the back. The instability was creating clouds below ridge height that flowed up and occasionally obscured the Sacred Falls headwaters (which were pumping by the way). We spent some time just playing around in that very dramatic zone and then headed across the back to check out Sacred Falls and the hidden falls on Hau'ula Ridge. It is rare to see the Hau'ula Ridge falls pumping. But today, we were in for a rare treat.

As I flew from Punalu'u to Hau'ula, I played in the largely unstable (but pretty smooth) air and was able to really have some time to ponder the beauty of the headwaters and the falls in both Sacred Falls and Hau'ula Falls (I do not know the actual name). Alex and I played in that space for quite a while before a large, ominous, black cloud began to push its way into the valley and we retreated to the north.

As we peeled off and headed to the north, I mentioned that I thought we had Pounders easy, and Alex thought that maybe we should not disturb the BYU folks on a Sunday, to which I replied we had Hukilau on glide if things did not change drastically. In fact, at that point, my trusty B1 Nav reported that I would arrive at Hukilau with 400 plus feet to spare. So, we both went on glide to Hukilau, and thankfully both arrived with plenty of height to spare.

Along the way, I saw a kitesurfer (with a small kite) hauling a$$ across Hukilau Bay and mentioned to Alex that that was generally a bad sign. Turns out that it was not so bad. But, it was a little brisk on landing. We landed at Hukilau, and Jayson stopped short at Pounders. After putting my wing down in some snarly stuff, I had the fun of body-dragging across some plants as I surfed my wing to a better landing spot. I figured it would be easier to bring my wing up and put it down in a better place than it would be to untangle it. Fun times, and it worked out well!

The end of the day was upon us. Ginger was on the way to pick us up (Thanks, Hun). And, Alex and Jayson and I had just had one of those flights where the light was always good, the waterfalls were plentiful, the lift was abundant, and we had a fair tailwind. It rarely gets better than this.

There were reports of guys flying at Makapu'u today. If you did, please post up. I'd love to hear your tale. For me, today was an exercise in Zen. The rain rains, the water flows, the wind blows. Pilots fly. It is their nature and their practice.



Alex said...

Wow, you whipped up a page turner in record time! Thanks for the great writeup. I still can't believe we managed to score a waterfall tour and a trip to Hukilau, on a day I was sure we wouldn't be flying.

It took me hours to sort through and tweak my photos, and they still don't nearly do justice to what we saw up there - the shots are all a bit blurry and badly lit, and I didn't quite get the shots I had in mind of the extra waterfalls. Next time!

Thom said...

Wow you lucky dogs.

I stayed home as all of you did until later in the afternoon when Scrappy called stating he was heading to MPU with a Tandem.

I decided to head down there when Maui Doug called and said he was on his way too.

I guess Franky flew the morning shift with a small wing. Low in the bowl. That is what it was for us too. Low in the bowl and kinda gusty, I was only up for 20 minutes.

Wish I was with you guys. As always it is on these window slamming days you gotta be at the right place at the right time.

I hope to see those pumping falls someday too.....from MPU to KNA wouldn't that be awesome!

DaveZ said...

Thanks Duck for the great read! Cheers.