Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dodging Squirrels

Mad Dog is out of town, and Thom is preparing to undergo a horrible procedure with a day of only liquids (and not the kind he favors). Forecasters are calling for nice northeast trades all week, and I only need a couple of 90 point ping pong flights to get back on top of the XC league. Not that I've had many 90 pointers, but in theory I should be cranking them out on the wing I'm flying. So I was hoping yesterday would be my chance!

Well, I flew my tail off for FOUR HOURS, tagging all my best and most distant waypoints, but after all that time and effort I had only made one and a half loops, for about 30 miles and 70 points. It was getting late, I was exhausted, and I just couldn't make myself keep going, so I cut it short and landed.

I was slowed down by some pesky squirrels, as Siri calls them when mangling my dictation, but honestly, I can't blame it on those cute little guys. I'm just a slow flyer. I know this because when I have my trusty wingmen along, they always leave me in the dust. I'm just not in a hurry when I'm flying. Which is fine for taking pictures and cruising around, but to break records or compete for a league position, you have to climb fast and put your boot to the bar.

I had cleverly planned out my flight in the morning using the awesome xcplanner tool. I was aiming to reverse our usual track by heading to Kualoa first, then to Hauula, then to both again, and ending up with a long south leg to Waiahole.

But after my first bay crossing, a huge line of squalls, or squirrels if you like, trapped me at Kualoa for what felt like an hour. Rain was falling in columns across the whole horizon, and I tried to aim for the clearest gap between them, but I was pretty sure I was going to get wet, and you know, fall out of the sky. I may have had a brief conversation with a higher power at that point. Anyway, it worked, because by some miracle I didn't get wet at all. I hope I didn't make any promises of better behavior or anything like that!

After the rain had passed, I made my way back to Kahana, where Jeff was working his way up, and I continued past to Punaluu, and further to Hauula, and further still to Tamura's, before turning around for the slow trudge back to Kahana. When I got back, Jeff had just landed, and AK Chris and Steve were up, with Drew on deck, and Allegra hiking.

I gamely headed across the bay to start my second loop. This time the lift seemed to have backed off considerably, and it took forever to climb at each bench point and finally chug out to tag the hat. I made my way back to Kahana again, but by that time it was getting late, and there were more squirrels on the horizon, and I was frankly just exhausted after four hours of squirrel dodging and bar booting.

In theory I had two more hours of daylight, but man, after four hours, I just couldn't picture tagging Tamura's again and then adding on a trip to Waiahole. So I shelved my league busting ambitions and landed at the LZ, followed soon after by AK Chris.

It was a beautiful day to fly, squirrels and all. Great to see everyone out there, even if only briefly as I sailed by on a mission. And I know there will be more chances for 90 pointers. Like today maybe!


Mad Dog said...

Great story Alex, I Miss flying with ya! Hope I get some good days with ya when I get back from Europe but kill it till I return. La Peste has me hiking & climbing so far but flying to come very soon in Interlaken, Engelberg & Chamonix.
Aloha & best to everyone at home!
Maqd Dog in Switzerland/France

Thom said...

Thanks, I needed that opening line laugh. Getting a camera snaked up your nether regions is not all that fun and neither will the news be if you wait too long to get it done.

I have done the double chronic a few times and your now doing the extended versions, frankly doing it alone sucks. There is no better way to describe it either, ping pong.

I like the new analogy of the squirrels, when their tails are dangling down they kinda look like squalls.

You got some time while Mad Dog is away, god knows I tried while both of you were gone, but some one took the air with him.

Thanks again for the write.
I'll be back in the air soon.

firedave2 said...


Did you say doing the chronic alone sucks? Poor Alex must have really been suffering up there. I'll take some