Sunday, September 04, 2011

Paragliding Pemberton

By Oahu standards, it had been a long time since I flew … at least two months, unless you count an eight-minute sled ride at Tiger Mountain three weeks ago. I had a craving for some airtime that only a real mountain flight would appease, and LeeAnn said we should meet Pete at his cabin in Pemberton. Who would argue with that? It had been a long summer with the move from Hawaii to Washington, and I was ready to enjoy the moment.

We split up the nine-hour drive from Ellensburg, WA, to Pemberton, BC, Canada by staying a night in Seattle. It was only two hours into the drive but I have a brother there and he throws a great party. By the time we left Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, we had a ton of beer and didn't know how we would sneak it over the border … but where there's a will … there's a way!

After a few questions at the border, we were on our way to Pemberton and loving the scenery. Berndt had arrived by motorcycle a couple days before and the chase was on. The drive through Canada was simply awesome! On the left side was Horseshoe Bay and on the right was the steepest, tallest mountain I'd ever seen. It was absolutely gorgeous.

By the time we arrived in Pemberton, Pete and Berndt had already picked up a salmon and some potatoes from the grocery store, and we were in for a delicious treat. Wow, can Berndt ever cook!

We awoke to overcast skies with patches of blue that promised a chance at getting in the air later in the day. After a cruise up Lake Lillooet and some panning for gold, we decided the thermals would be working and set off for launch. Along the way, we picked up Jim Orava and headed to high launch.

Once we got there, the thermals were kicking off and Jim led the way. I followed close behind, with Berndt hot on my heels. Having not flown many thermals since Rat Race 2010, I was a bit nervous, and hoped I would remember how it is done. Just off launch I hooked a great right-hander and started thermaling up above launch. Unfortunately, Jim and Berndt did not find the lift as quickly, and made their way toward mid launch. Jim top-landed at mid launch, and Berndt found a nice, soft patch of grass well out in the valley. For me, however, I just enjoyed turning in the rising air and and catching glimpses of glaciers spewing from the tundra below.


Alex said...

JD, sounds like you had a great flight! Thanks for sharing the story and pictures. We miss you guys!

Thom said...

Dido. I am sure glad someone got up there to fly with the Old Gray. The pictures have definitely enticed some other monkeys to want to venture that way next time Pete's there.

Thanks for the write up.
Hope to see you all soon.

Anonymous said...

Way to get out there JD hope all is good for you! If you want to get out to Leavenworth,Chelan, or Mazama let me know I have some great pilot contacts there, Gaza((808)315-6455)
Peace to you and Leanne and family...)GAZA

JK said...

J&L, nice! Tiger is my old stomp. Over 50 flights there in one summer and only rode the shuttle once. For me, it's when flying drove me to hike and hiking 1 hour per flight kept me in shape (that carrot on the stick). Sorry you only had a sledder, but get back there and you'll have a blast with wind-pushed thermals that feel like ridge, but then just keep going up. Super fun. Just avoid the politics (and the weekends). As for the rest of your write-up, that sounds awesome! I never got up to BC to fly, but one day. JK