Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Three Sweet Days at Kahana

The most exciting news last week was definitely Mad Dog's epic solo trip from Makapuu to Kahuku, followed by a second attempt with Lake the next day. But in the meantime, lots of pilots were also flying in rare light and thermic conditions at Kahana, with nice high cloudbase, and several of us managed some fun smaller-scale cross country flights. We don't fly Kahana too often in a typical winter season, so these three days were a rare treat for me, and I took some pictures that barely do justice to the pretty conditions we had out there.

Tuesday started out super strong, gusty and easterly, and then it got lighter and nicer, but still moderate east-northeast. Kahana seemed like a better call than Makapuu. (Though Mad Dog would prove that wrong.) I got to 3,300 feet over Puu Piei, crossed the bay, made it around to Hidden Valley in Kaaawa, but found nothing there, so I dove back over the Crouching Lion, figuring I'd just head straight for the beach. But Jayson encouraged me to come back to the ridge, and foolishly, I did, arriving halfway below low launch in the lightest conditions conceivable.

Somehow I scratched my way back up from there, to 3,300 feet again, and then drifted over the back to Punaluu, where I got to 3,700 feet, my highest point at that spot in a few years, for some incredible views from Pearl Harbor to Kaena Point. Meanwhile Joe and Kaaawa Larry had nice long soaring flights at Kahana. I flew to Pounders with BC Lee in what turned out to be sinkier air than I expected, for a 9 mile slingshot distance. After I got back to Kahana, we saw Mad Dog flying over us from Makapuu, and I picked him up at Kahuku and brought him back to Kahana to catch a ride with Joe back to Makapuu!

The air was dead all morning on Wednesday, and I was waiting for the sea breeze to kick in. Makapuu definitely seemed like a better call, but I had a short window because of kid pickups. A breeze finally filled in, but it was super light and north. Thom and Woody and Harvey scratched with me in the light north flow. I grabbed a monster thermal that chewed me up and spit me out, up to 1,800 feet over the front of Kahana.

From there I crossed the bay, flying high over Kaaawa for a while, and visiting Kualoa too, before returning to Kahana, for a 7 mile round trip. It definitely would have been a good day to fly to Makapuu. I was hoping to cross paths with Mad Dog and Lake who were on their way downrange from Makapuu, but they ended up landing near the Pyramid. Later I heard from Bonnie that it went super east at the end of the day. After picking up Amelia from school, we had dinner at Surfin Tacos with Woody, Thom, Maui Mark and Ginger.

Thursday was Mad Dog's birthday, and Groundhog Day, and also the one year anniversary of my tandem crash. I scratched out a marathon flight from Kahana to Kaaawa and then to Hukilau, on a super light and challenging day. After crossing the bay and finding nothing in Hidden Valley to keep me up, I scrambled back low over the bay.

Then came the part that is appropriate for Groundhog Day. I came in low, and toplanded at low east launch, then hiked up to upper launch, relaunched, scratched, then toplanded at low north launch, hiked up to upper launch, relaunched, scratched, then toplanded low east launch, hiked up to upper launch, inflated and kited to upper upper launch, relaunched, scratched, then toplanded at upper launch, inflated and kited to upper upper launch again.

I relaunched for the last time, and somehow I finally managed to chart a super slow and scratchy path up and out of there, inch by inch, clawing my way to ridge height, and then above it, to start the downrange portion long after Woody and Phil had landed. Whew! I was in for more light scratching at Punaluu, to 2,700 feet or so, and then I blasted down to find the other guys, who'd landed just short of Laie Point. I couldn't help myself, and I had to see how far I could go. Turns out I couldn't quite make the golf course, so I settled for Hukilau, making it an 11 mile slingshot flight. My favorite beach landing spot! And I flew with my favorite beverage in my pack, which is always nice after a hard day like that.

1 comment:

Thom said...

Thanks for the log. Not like you to have no pics.

Got me through my dinner coffee which is just to keep me warm.