Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Owen's Valley


Today we went up to Gunter and things were not too bad wind-wise. South winds again but manageable, and the task was 110 km to Mina, in Nevada. Launched early and had to scratch around for a long time as the lift was a bit spotty, but I would rather do that than be stuck on launch in a big lineup while the cycles were getting stronger and stronger.

While waiting for the start the call came over the radio about a pilot-less glider that was flying around over launch. The pilot had forgotten to buckle up his legstraps, and fell out after launching (buggering his ankle), while his glider flew away. It flew around for a while and then headed downwind in to the canyon nearby, where it snagged itself on a tree on a cliff. Alex went to retrieve it (he wasn’t flying today) with only a couple of holes in it.

Also we had 1 reserve deployment and 1 land-out at 12,000’, so the organization was pretty busy dealing with those.

I never got very high until Boundary Peak (so called since it’s at the state line between California and Nevada) and then beamed to cloudbase at 16,400’. After Boundary Peak there is a high pass to fly over to Mina (still 60 km away). A nice cloudstreet was forming over the Pass so I started across. Part-way over the cloudstreet started to drop virga out of it and the lift died, and the whole Pass was in shade. I sniffed around, still drifting to goal, but couldn’t find anything, so at 30 km away from goal I ended up landing on the highway after making sure it was clear of vehicles for the next little bit. Landing was a bit hard on the pavement with light winds and a downsloping hill, but I managed to put the glider down on the gravel shoulder and avoid the sagebrush. The whole valley was in shade at this point, and it looked like the lift was shutting down in that part for the rest of the day, although the Owen’s Valley part was still looking nice. 82 km flight and 4 hours flight time.

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