After a day of driving up from Bend, Oregon, yesterday, and no flying (it was cloudy and spitting rain in spots), we were ready to fly Chelan on Saturday. This was the weekend of the Halloween Women's Fly-in, which meant a lot of pilots were in the area (mostly Seattle pilots, with a large Canadian contingent as well).
Reports were of rather windy conditions on launch (10-12 mph from the SW) but doable, so a bunch of us went up to launch in Derek's truck. When we arrived there were a couple of gliders just launching, and they flew straight through a huge thermal right off Green Monster, so I knew it was working.
Got ready and launched between a bunch of people kiting, and went straight up in front of Green Monster. The first 20 seconds or so was quite slow, but once out front it got nicer and less windy, and it was nice thermalling/ridge soaring on the SW launch.
I flew for about an hour then decided to top-land to warm up. I had noticed Yaro out front and low on the next butte to the west, and after landing I heard on the radio that he was down in a gully and not moving. So Kevin White and myself got a truck together and went down to search for him.
When we found him he was walking around but not wanting to hike out unsupported, so 2 of us got his gear organized while the other 2 helped him to the truck. He went down the mountain and was pretty OK, except for a sore back, and went to get it checked out. Not sure what the outcome of that is yet.
Meanwhile back on launch it was getting windy so I packed up and went down for some lunch with Jim and Colleen, and when we returned a couple of hours later it was less windy again and launchable. This time I flew down to drop my bomb and try for the target landing, and it was windy enough in the LZ that I was able to hover into the LZ. Many pilots were landing short, coming in too far downwind and not making it to the target, and landing all over the place.
Over at the airport ridge a bunch of people were flying too. Alex, Robin, Martin, and Mia were there after it blew out on the Butte, and were having nice ridge/thermal flights there. We all met up later on for the party at the Chelan airport lounge.
As usual, the party was a blast and many colorful and crazy costumes. This year I didn't have a costume as we had been on the road for the past week, and no time (or room in the car) to get a costume ready. We had about 20 Canucks there, and the Barbie costume theme went off really well (Martina won for best costume: Martini Barbie).
Sunday morning it was grey and not windy, sledrides only we figured, so we opted to drive back to Vancouver early and beat the snow that was due in the mountain passes. I think some people stuck around for Sunday but nothing was really going on so we didn't miss anything by leaving early.
We are now back in Vancouver and probably no traveling for a while...time to get back to work and into Winter Mode. This last trip of the local season was fantastic; we flew all the sites we meant to fly, and only lost a couple of days due to weather or driving. I would highly recommend the sand dunes at Marina. You get a lot of kiting in, get better at your high-wind launching skills, learn a lot about your glider (energy retention, speeds, wanging around), and come back with a lot of sand in everthing! Just make sure to check the weather beforehand...you don't want to be stuck on the California coast when it's raining or blowing offshore.
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