Monday, November 10, 2014

Climbing the Ladder

Somewhere in this picture, near the lake, sits my house. In the yard, there is a papaya tree, with a ladder leaned next to it. Our Oregon buddy, Paul Murdoch, has had some ladder issues lately. So now, in my advancing years, I climb on that ladder more carefully. But the ladders in life all have slippery rungs, missing steps and disappointing peaks. Today's climbs were similar, but they were never a disappointment.

I never seem to root myself in the right area. I attended a bonfire at the Colby Ranch on Saturday night and enjoyed a few glasses of wine. Then in the morning we feasted on some delicious fresh eggs and bacon. Yes, I ate bacon and it was so good. As the morning brewed on, with countless stares into the sky, we pondered over the weather data. It became clear that Makapuu was the site of the day. Now I know why Alex is reluctant to drive from Punaluu all the way to Makapuu: it's a long drive. Just as I typed this, I could hear One-Eye sigh: Yeah, right, a long drive, I don't think so.

The latest price of getting old: I have plantar fasciitis. This happens to you when you don't do your stretching. Now, hiking was not in the cards for me, so thank God the launch of the day was Manics. By the time I got there, people were already on the ground, several on launch, and gaggle was headed north. I launched and was on the chase.

I was flying alone, but then out of nowhere came Flash. It's been a long time since he was in the air here, so it was good to see him. I started getting cold snuggled in my pod, but I looked over at Flash in shorts, bare legged, in a t-shirt and smiling, and I knew my complaints would fall on deaf ears. Later I found out his smile was frozen to his face.

We both got over to the Pali together. I was low, but to make me feel better, Flash was lower. To return the favor to Flash, Alex pulled in from a story-filled Olomana flight even lower. I was having a tough time scratching where I was at. These dudes needed a ladder, a long one. They both landed out at Saint Stephens, a gnarly little postage stamp along the Pali Highway. Not Alex's favorite, but that's another story.

Duck was above me heading back to Makapuu. The radio started chirping with pilots down all over, looking for rides. Motorhead made it to Temple Valley. Jorge, Cade and Becca made it to Hygienics. Now, again, I was all alone on a ladder. It was a safe enough ladder, but flying with a buddy is much more comforting. So with no one to talk to, yes Ms. Swan, I talked to myself. Constantly talked about the clouds, the last place I found lift, and how much time I had left. I only had time maybe for a ping pong flight. The Pali face had several rungs missing, and the climb was slow on the narrow lifting face. Finally, I was on glide back to Makapuu, to close what would be my first loop at the light house.

With the clock ticking, I headed back toward Green Walls for turn point 4. I could see Stalker off in the distance, and this pesky orange glider that I did not recognize scooting in and out below me. I lost Stalker by the power lines. I was on an outside line and he was trying the ridge route. I hit some flat landers and got up nicely. Thank you, Chelan. Stalker disappeared. Alone again, I checked my arm pits. It wasn't me. The orange glider was way behind, so I just pushed on. It was slow progress. The clock was ticking, so I went as far as I could on Green Walls. High over the Olomana finger that tethers it to the range, I pushed toward the Pali. The ladder was getting slippery, so I turned and headed back. There was that orange glider again, so at least I had a wing man for the glide back to the final and fifth turn point, closing my second loop at the lighthouse.

I landed to find out I may have scored the highest mileage of the day. It was my highest scoring flight here this year, and I climbed within a rung of Alex and just out of reach of the Mad Dog, for now. But there's always the next flight.

Many pilots flew today. I thank you all for showing up and getting in the air. The roll call was a day long and into the dusky skies, so if you're not on this list please chirp to be added to this historical census of flight.

Almost the entire HPA board was in the air today, missing only Fireman Dave: Alex, Stalker, Duck, and Sidehill, along with the next region 3 USHPA Director, Pete "Reaper" Michelmore.

Also flying was One-Eye on the new ASPEN5. We will be waiting for a debrief on that custom ride. Jorge, Cade and Becca got the longest open distance, flying to Hygienics, then after getting a ride back from Reaper they entertained the troops with some dusky acro. Also flying were Motorhead, Flash, Franky, TommyRD, Sawzall, Vin, Kevin, Harvey, Shawn, Alaska Thai on the mysterious orange glider, and Sporty Spice (Sandy June), who was the last to land. Johnimo, Ginny and Lupo worked ground control. Retrieves were graciously provided by Pat (Mrs. Motorhead), Becky (Flash's gal and future pilot) and the Reaper, who never leaves a man or women stranded.

It's Time to Fly Get Your Gear and Go Climbing!!!!


Alex said...

What a fun day. Great to see so many folks out there. Thom, your picture gives just a hint of how grey and cold it was. I know we shouldn't complain but man that was cold. Here's to warmer XC days ahead!

nightshift said...

Thom, I can't believe you ate bacon. You're going straight to hell.

sandy said...

Three hours and ten minutes in the air after an hour or more driving -- I'm sure he was glad he ate the bacon. Congrats on the high score Thom!