I was starting to prep my gear for the up coming Owens Valley PG Nationals, while Kalei was taking these pictures she said, "You look like your going to battle, you look like a gay storm trooper". Well, unfortunately I think she's hit it right on the helmet. We will be launching around 6,000 feet and have potential altitude gains to 17,999 feet. It will be cold and the ride up to these elevations could be fast and furious. The more I have been gathering information and gear for this trip the more I wonder, What the Hell am I doing??!!!
Alex started to stir the pot on Owens quite sometime ago. I have heard about the Owens and read things like what was quoted in Cross Country Magazine, "The Owens Valley is not for the faint-hearted, but pick your season, and the valley’s rocky peaks pump powerful climbs up to 6,000m over the deepest valley in the United States. Strong mountain thermals and mountain desert flying. Light winds are critical. Only go flying during the suggested months, as the desert floor heats too much in mid-summer for sane or safe piloting." Everything I have read or heard about the Owens is ominous. But after a successful Chelan adventure last year and Alex's famous words, "I think we got this". I was getting slowly won over.
Pete Michelmore was going to be the Safety Retrieve Director. Every comp I have done so far, Canadian Nats, Rat Race, Chelan he has been there, for some reason his voice at launch and on the radio and knowing that the Bronco will be there to rescue me no matter where I end up is super comforting. I had great adventures when Pete was at the helm.
Chris Langan and Scotty Gee from the Big Island were on the list now too. Alex kept proding but I didn't think he was serious until he booked our flights. Ok, I guess I am throwing my wing in the ring. Now, I am committed to go.
SDTom lands in Oahu, he started to give Alex and I the low down. There's a place there called the Valley of Doom, it's not written but it's there. That was not comforting. After paying for the comp I found out you will need to fly with Oxygen..............What? Ok, we arranged it and thankfully I will be borrowing Tim ONeill's kit. Another thing is you must stay hydrated, which means of course, you must also pee in flight. Remembering last years Chelan flights of 5 to 7 hours and my aging bladder, I had to get a special relief system. Along with a puffy coat to stay warm at possible 32 degree temperatures.
I finally decided to try some of this stuff on and now my pre-flight checklist is huge. All the regular buckles etc. but now I have a pee tube and an Oxygen tube which I am going to color code cause hooking these hoses up to the wrong ends could be painful. Urine into the nose and O2 into the, well, you know, it just would not be pleasant.
I thought of just wearing diapers but Quentin tried that once and he just couldn't do it. Just reading this I have to go but there's no tube for that..........Yet!! I know gross.
Now the inside of my pod is got more stuff going on. I open the skirt and there are hoses and wires. Oh, forgot the wires. Due to the extended time in the air a battery back up is in the flight deck with a wire up to the phone which is now also and instrument on the flight deck.
I am committed to go, got the travel plans and extra gear. Then, Kari calls and tells Pete she doesn't need him.....So Pete's NOT Going!!!!!............Doesn't she know that alot of pilots go just cause Pete's there. This was not a good sign.
Alex, Chris, Scotty and I will be hoping for your moral support and prayers. We will try to blog the events as time and energy allow. The count down is on, we are still hoping that Fireman Dave, JK and even Ike will show up out of the blue and there's always the chance of SkyGod Doug showing up.
It Will Be Time To Fly, Get Your Gear and Then Some and Try to Survive The Owens.