Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiger Tales and Awesome Adventures

For those who have hiked and flown Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, Washington, you know the commitment it takes to hike to the top, unless you are willing to fork out the $17 for ride to launch. For the rest of us, the hike up Tiger is easily an hour ordeal with a paraglider on your back. That said, it is also one of the best hikes you will ever do, on a well-maintained trail system with dozens of two- and four-legged Seattlites enjoying the outdoors and keeping you company. On a bright and beautiful Spring afternoon like this past Sunday, it was definitely the place to be.

The last two times LeeAnn and I hiked to the top of Tiger Mountain, conditions on launch prevented me from flying. Winds can be quite strong and if it has a western flow, launch can be in the lee. Both times I shouldered the pack and trudged back down the trail only to find my legs and back screaming at me the entire way. Hiking down can be a killer.

Fortunately, we emerged at the end of the trail on North Launch to find over 30 pilots and 50 spectators enjoying the beautiful view of Seattle and Lake Sammamish State Park. Colorful paragliders dotted the sky turning lazy circles in the afternoon sun. There were more cameras out taking pictures as each pilot launched than I'd ever imagined and tons of applause from the spectators.

Tiger Mountain - 22 Apr 12
After a brief reprieve on the grassy slopes, I started to sort my gear and clear my lines. A few pilots were waiting in the launch que and before long it was my turn. You always wonder if you are going to botch your launch with that many people as witnesses, but on those carpeted launches with gentle cycles coming straight in from the North, it's just pull, turn, and go.

Chelan Butte, WA - 7 Apr 12
Since this was my third flight at Tiger Mountain and the other two consisting of 13-15 minute sled rides, I was hoping to find lift and enjoy the thermal flying. I managed to get in some good turns and watch the other pilots to see what was happening and really enjoyed the flight. The sky was so clear we could easily see Mount Rainier in the distance and marvel at her size. On the other horizon, Lake Sammamish provided a scenic vista rarely seen in the rainy seasons of Western Washington.

Pemberton, BC, with Reaper, Berndt
and Family - Sep 12
Although we can't fly everyday of the year like pilots in Hawaii, it is still a great place to fly. LeeAnn and I have been out to Chelan Butte a few times, the Saddle and a couple of flying sites we pioneered on her parents' 3,000 acre ranch near Monument, Oregon. Way back in September we joined Pete and Berndt for some fun and flying in Pemberton.

Pioneering new launches in
Monument, Oregon - April 12
We recently attended a club meeting to get hooked up with local pilots and hope to fly Baldy Butte soon with the Northwest Paragliding Club. Oceanside is the next Fly-In and we just missed the Blanchard Fly-In to help LeeAnn's parents brand, vaccinate, tag and castrate 76 calves the weekend prior.

We look forward Rat Race and seeing old friends again. Thanks for keeping us glued to the chatbox as if we still lived on the island. Our love for the Aloha State will never fade and we hope to move back after we finish our time in the Air Force.

Diving and Golfing in Cozumel, Mexico
Spring Break 2012


Doug said...

I'm in the Tri-Cities (Eastern) WA and when you want to get out of the rain and the away from the crazies at tiger give me a buzz.
(509) 308-6549

Anonymous said...

Don't worry JD we have not had that many decent flying days this winter and often the conditions were marginal at best, spring rules over there and you should meet a bunch of charging pilots over there soon if you ever end up in Mazama Wa. let me know and I will put you in contact with local pilots there...I love Washington! Aloha, hope to fly with you there this year/summer, will be in touch! GAZA

Thom said...

Thank Goodness, a read for my coffee, I know it would not of come from here with the lack of flying and me having to pull teeth just to get a log when there is.

Glad you and Leeann are making the best of where ever you are. Glad you had a great flight and double glad that I got a coffee read.


Puka Wai said...

Glad your persistence has paid off in a flight at Tiger. I have yet to fly there, but a 4:1 ratio between hike time and flight time sounds very familiar from the "old" days back in the early 90's. There are some mountains in Ojai Ca. called the Topa Topa bluffs. I've done the 3 1/2 hour hike to the top 4 times with my glider but still have not flown off that place. Someday. And someday for Tiger as well!

JK said...

JD & Leann,

Tiger is my old haunt from 05-08. I was never in better shape when making that hike. I normally did it in 1:10, so an hour flat is smoking'! I refused to ever buy a ride on the shuttle. You will run into some very cool people there too. That's where I met a red haired Hawaiian pilot driving a blue Subie rally car. That's right... Scot was based at Seattle for a while. Great flights there. Most notably, ridge induced tree thermals; big phat mellow juicy ones. I imagine the flying there will be a lot like Pemby will be on Aug. I hope you're planning for that one again this year.


JD said...

Thanks all and glad to get new contacts in the area. We are in Ellensburg, WA, so right in the middle between Tiger, Chelan, Saddle and Baldy. Hooking up with Dave Norwood (Preacher) here in a couple weeks for a two-day XC seminar.