Sunday, July 14, 2013
But I can't take the credit for any of those miles - on my own, I wouldn't have flown even half as far. I adore flying cross country, but I'm a big chicken, so I rely on the encouragement (i.e., jeering and taunting) of my flying buddies to spur me on. I look forward to flying many more hundreds of miles with all of you before this summer is over!
Rat Race: Stepping Up
I definitely need to practice flying longer thermal flights and maintaining my focus. And I need to work on staying high and patiently finding the high lines. Plenty to work on for next year! Also, I need to try and stick with other people more consistently. I never sank out when I was with other people - that always happened after I was alone. Well, except for the first task day where we all sank out together near the third turnpoint, after launching late under low clouds, and I was miraculously scored in a three way tie for fifth place with Josh and Rob! I know, I said three way. In my wildest fantasies I never imagined being that close to those guys!
Then, as a low pressure system began to degrade the trade winds, we enjoyed a thermic day at Kahana that rivaled a typical rodeo day on the west side. We scratched our way up and then lassoed spirited beasts between Kualoa and Laie in a windward version of the Nanakuli Valley Tour. On my early bay crossing attempt, I sank out to Kaaawa, and then got a ride back to relaunch and head the other way with Duck. Later on, Thom made great use of his recently honed racing skills, and scratched his way to Kualoa and back like a cross country champion!
Jim, Frank and Five-0 were first to venture to Puu O Kona, and I followed, but none of us were feeling the love. Then the Three Musketeers showed up: Ike, Jayson and Thom. They wasted no time in leaving Makapuu and blazing downrange. Again I followed, but as they flew down Green Walls I headed out to Olomana, based on Jorge's advice for such a north day. Thom apparently had the same idea, but wasn't able to get up there and landed with the cows at the Boys Home. I came in at ridge height and buzzed around until I got something worth turning in.
It was cool to start turning circles right above all the hikers on Olomana. I circled back to cloud base and figured I'd head back to Makapuu, but then I could see Ike and Jayson squeaking around the north flow at the Pali and getting up. Oh man, are we really doing this? I finally admitted that it wasn't too north or too strong, nor were the clouds too low, and I dashed over to the Pali to follow those guys. I struggled at Stairway to Heaven, where Gaza and Bonnie had been that morning, but I finally got high enough to cross Haiku Valley.
And that's when I caught up with the two remaining Musketeers, behind Temple Valley, and we thermalled the ridges behind Kahaluu together. I got high on the ridge behind Waiahole, but those guys were talking about landing at the beach park there. I managed to squeak around the foot of the Pyramid and benched up to try a run through Kaaawa Valley. But something was different from past runs I've made through there - I found nothing but sink.
I barely made it to the front of the Kaaawa ridge, lower than I've ever been there, and I tried to scratch my way up, but in vain. There was no wind at all. I blazed low over the trees for Swanzys, just barely making it there and landing in absolutely dead conditions. Of course I wish I had made it a bit farther. I've been as far as Hukilau and BYU on previous flights. But here's the best part of this flight: as I was drinking a beer and eating fries at Bobo's, Woody drove my car back from Makapuu and picked me up for the 10 minute ride home. You just can't beat that kind of logistical genius.
So the three of us managed to get ourselves above Gaza and Laurel's place, and the trick turned out to be getting down. The lift over their house was off the charts. I think it must have been all the good vibes blasting up to heaven. The three of us had to fight those vibes to get down! Thom made it first, and I followed him down, and then JK joined us. It was a crazy place to land, but what a fun way to start a party! As we were shuttling our cars back to the wedding, Scrappy landed there as well on his second flight of the day.
What a sweet 100 mile week. I look forward to more weeks like that. Hopefully I have lots of pilots around to spur me on!
Posted by Alex at 12:23 AM