Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Devil's Rodeo

If our windward flying sites are a heavenly paradise, then the west side is surely an infernal underworld, designed to test the virtue of the faithful and torment the souls of the wicked. Since we have lost the former ruler of that purgatory to the dark forces of W**k in farthest Washington, the west side has become a last resort for most of us, to be suffered only when no other site on the island is flyable. If we go there at all. And maybe that's nothing new. But I believe there's always hope that we can be redeemed. Our missing master once famously said that hiking is the penance for flying. If that's true, then hiking to high launch at Nanakuli is the ultimate atonement.

On Friday, a day when a heavenly host of the faithful were gathering for the sweet sacrament of a Makapuu downrange flight, four inveterate sinners were compelled to seek redemption in the flames of Nanakuli's fiery furnace. It's easy to fly Nanakuli when nothing else is working, but only the most twisted souls will chance it over the promise of an epic Makapuu mission. I had recently accumulated some interest on my karmic debt, and I knew I needed to suffer to pay it down. God only knows why Duck, Bill and Doug felt that they needed to suffer with me, but I'm glad they did. Karmic misery certainly loves company!

When we arrived at the altar of our sacrifice, the sky was overdeveloped in a big way: the clouds had ominous dark bottoms and were expanding out from the valley. But we hiked anyway, hoping the weather might hold off or clear up. It seemed unlikely that we'd be able to get anywhere, but we hoped to at least acquit ourselves favorably in thermal climbs. In fact, all four of us got up nicely, turning and turning in the widening gyre. Duck was the first to get high and blaze out for some distance. I only noticed he was gone after he'd been missing in the clouds for a half hour. Finally I spotted him at Maili Point. Man! That was one of the legendary routes - head out to that distant little hill, thermal back up, and return to Haleakala like you'd never been gone. I wondered if that was Duck's plan.

I set a course to follow Duck out there, and Bill did the same. We both arrived there at about the same time, although my alien steed delivered me just a bit higher. I arrived high enough to watch Duck and Bill get yanked around by the leeside fiends snaking up from inside the sheltered bowl. It was a true cauldron of perdition. I lassoed one of those infernal serpents and rode the beast slowly up and away from that hellhole, only releasing my grip when I realized I was at cloudbase between the towering submarine antennas. Wow! I galloped back to Haleakala and watched as Duck followed, with a few more dramatic low saves involved. That guy is a rodeo ringer!

Maui Doug made his way out to the point as well, but after a valiant struggle, he retreated to the beach below. Bill hung out there and battled with the leeside demons for a very long time. Duck and I considered a trip across the valley of the shadow of death, but Duck's exciting ride through a particularly nefarious sink cycle changed our mind. We headed out once again to Maili point, where Bill was still bravely battling to climb out, and the three of us eventually got high enough together to cruise out to the beach in front of the shopping center where we'd left our cars. We landed right in front of Maui Doug, who greeted us with cold refreshing beverages. It took several of those soothing elixirs to salve our battered spirits. Jim joined us after we'd landed and added some more refreshments to the mix. Thanks to Doug and Jim for the ambrosia. Thanks to Duck "Hoffman" for leading the charge of the four horsemen. I look forward to more apocalyptic missions!


Doug said...

note from the redeemed:
the air in the back of the valley is often mellower than that over the ridge and front peaks. i think more collection and more moisture often lead to smoother lift.

we are putting up the flying gear and all of the summer fun. fall arrived tuesday with the first cold front of the year.

hope to see you all in december home for 3 weeks at christmas.

Thom said...

Wow, what a read. Now that is what I am talking about.

Of course I had my usual Google glossary opened in another window. I now have several new words to store away.

This story had the tracks and the players with a twist to entice the long lost father of the valley to chirp in before me.

What a twist, I am guessing you are also whipping those that went to MPU in lieu of following your pilgrimage. I feel the lashes and will atone. I am heading to the Land of Fire today.

Great write up, I still say we could make a book out of many of these logs.

Thanks, my coffee never needed a warmer, just the thought of the hike made my hands radiate around my mug.

JJ Jameson

Duck said...

Once again, great flying with you guys and exploring the art of what is possible at Nan! That place has a lot to explore and figure out--I hope to keep exploring it this winter. Maybe when Doug comes out he can give us a tour!

Duck said...

Great vid also by the way!