Friday, September 28, 2018

Kiona Sept 28

Kiona hiking trail, road up, and landing zone.
I had never been to Kiona (next to Benton City in WA state) but was in the mood for trying a new site with all the north wind we've been having lately.

Kiona ridge looking east with the road access visible.
Kiona is an easy hike up (1 hour) or 2-wheel drive to the top (it's toplandable), and you can pretty much launch anywhere depending on wind strength and finding a sagebrush-free spot on the slopes.

Kiona ridge facing NW.
Wind was predicted to be on the stronger side, if not blown-out, but at the end of the day the wind dropped enough to launch safely.  There's about 6 km of straight NE ridge, and an extra ~2km of more N ridge next to the antennas.  Just pick a slope that faces into the wind!

Over-the-back is pretty flat and would make for interesting XC!
Once in the air you can see that over the back the terrain is basically flat...kinda like flying at Chelan, but without the canyon crossing!  I'm thinking that in a light north wind and on an unstable day it could be an interesting flatland XC site.





Monday, September 3, 2018

Pemberton Sept 3

Wow what a fantastic day!  We are in that time of year where we get good XC conditions again for about 2 weeks, when the days still are warm, but the nights are getting colder and longer, making for a good lapse rate.  It usually lasts until mid-September so whenever the weather looks good this time of year, you want to grab the last few XC days!

Winds were light SW so several of us headed out to Althelstan and return.  The run out was beautiful with a cloud street pretty much over the entire range at around 3000m.  We weren't dressed quite warm enough (the Rasp said -4C at 3000m) so we were all freezing, but nobody was about to cut their flight short due to a little cold :)

Crossing Hurley Pass.
Not much wind at Spindrift and the 50km mark so we continued on to Athelstan and the 60km mark. I stopped at Athelstan to admire the pumice cliffs while Alex and Greg crossed Salal Creek to the next bump before returning to join me, and then it was time to head back.

Athelstan Peak.
It was easy sailing until Owl Ridge, where I could see a bunch of shade on the ridge but since we were at 2300m at Barbour, we didn't think much of it since from 2300m you can pretty much glide straight to Pemberton.  But not today!  There was some funky SE wind on the Owl Ridge and it was an unexpected headwind.  That, plus the shade, meant we weren't going to make it back to Pemberton without possibly landing out at Riverlands, and nobody wants to do that and "be that guy" that lands in the restricted LZ zone.
You can faintly see the new road the loggers have put in which goes towards Meager Hot Springs.

Fortunately the Miller Beer Farm is right under Owl Peak and easy to land at, and there were already lots of pilots there from earlier in the day, so we joined them to warm up after our 4-5 hour freeze-off.  One of the last good XC days in the area, and it was epic conditions: fast, strong, high, and cold!  Just like March or April, only it's September!

Athelstan and return flight.




Sunday, September 2, 2018

Big Johnson Sept 2

The Fraser Valley was predicted to be a bit too windy but fortunately Big Johnson in WA state is enough out of the FV flow to escape the wind.  Pretty burley in the air and felt like springtime conditions...I find that the first couple of weeks of September are often a short-lived return to instability (the nights are getting longer and colder, while the days are still warm) before the XC flying shuts down for the season.

Went over to Porter Mountain and it was rough and strong over there, cloud base was somewhere above 2000m and the Twin Sisters were poking out above the clouds, very scenic!

FAI triangle at Big Johnson.

Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Woodside August 30

One of the rare times when we head out for a ridge soaring day and not a thermal day...

It was very strong on launch and we had to wait for lulls to safely launch in, but once in the air it was buttery-smooth and hands-off flying.  Lift to over 1000m and the lift band was very wide!

After an hour I opted to head out to Eagle Ranch since the car was there, but Alex and Tom went to Harvest Market instead.  Because of all the clouds shutting down the thermic activity, the landing at ER was not that bad, and only a little bit of rotor off Harrison Bump at the 500m mark.  Lots of people fishing on the Fraser River though!




Monday, August 27, 2018

Mt. St. Benedict Aug 27

A light north and remarkably high cloud base day!  Flew north to the bump before Salsbury Lake and got up to just below the airspace restriction of 1981m, then it was an easy run out to Dewdney Mountain and return.  An unexpectedly nice day for late August!