Thursday, September 11, 2008

Owen's Valley

We are in Bishop, California, in the Owen’s Valley, for the US Paragliding Nationals. Got here on Wednesday evening after watching some serious weather move through the area, to hear of some nice flying on Tuesday from Walt’s Point on the Sierra side of the valley.

Owen’s valley is bordered by 2 mountain ranges…the Sierra’s on the west side, and the White’s/Inyo’s on the east (with Westguard Pass separating the Whites and Inyo’s…this Pass leads to the Ancient BristleCone Pine forest just on the other side). There are multiple launches on both sides, depending on when you want to launch (Sierra’s are the morning side, and the White’s are the afternoon side), and how much distance you want available to you for XC.

Wednesday was north winds aloft, which is not very good for the Owen’s in general. Since there were lots of pilots and only Kari’s vehicle capable of getting to launch, we opted for Flynns on the White’s side of the valley, since it is a low launch and everyone could hike up (about 45 minutes), while Kari’s vehicle took the gliders up.

Flynn’s launch is at . Hiking up was relatively easy and everyone was up by 1pm, but I was feeling a touch of altitude sickness coming on after the hike up, and decided not to fly. Everyone else flew and was off launch by 2:30pm. Due to the north winds the lift was actually out front which meant you didn’t have to do a long glide out from way back (the White’s side of the range is rather low angle, and it is easy to get low back there, caught in a gully, and not able to make the valley floor, so you have to be careful not to get caught back there).

Most people flew to Big Pine, about 25 km south of Flynn’s, while others flew to Independence (the next big town south), and a couple to Lone Pine. After driving Kari’s vehicle down I went on chase retrieve after Alex and picked him up just south of Big Pine, after hiking out from the wrong side of the Owen’s River (30 km flight).

Stopped at Keough Hot Springs on the way back to Bishop and a nice soak in the pools, and then back to Bishop to meet up with everyone else.

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