Weather today was wind from the west down low, north up high, and higher cloudbase, about 15,000' in the high peaks. So a 107km task was set towards Challis, with a TP at Dickey Peak about 70km along the courseline.
I was able to get myself in a better frame of mind for flying after yesterday's awful flight, so I was ready when the window opened. Plus the fact I had no priority launching, and I figured the west wind would kick in at some point made me want to spend time in the air vs. on the ground. Good thing, as the west wind did kick in, to the point that it looked like it was difficult to launch for the later people.
I could already tell it was gonna be a better day since we were getting higher than the same time yesterday, which really helped with the transition to Sun Peak and eventually Otto Peak. I had a hell of a time getting high off Otto, and eventually dove off it into Trail Creek Pass from 13,000' (Nate recommends 14,000').
The next 15km or so were pure hell, as I was low in the valley wind which was just scouring the hills. I scunged along and almost landed 2 or 3 times, but each time I was able to find a climb to get me a bit further along. At one point I was 200' over the ground when Meredyth and I found something which eventually solidified and took us to cloudbase which was about 15,000. Whew!
Finally back in the game, Meredyth and I parted ways. I opted to stay upwind and fly in the lee of the north side where nice clouds were starting to form. This stretch of flying is about 10km of no real roads, so you have to stay high to make it to where the highway comes back to the mountains, so I was very slow and methodical about jumping from cloud to cloud.
Finally I had to jump the valley to the south side since that was where the TP was. Fortunately a nice cloudstreet showed me the way, and I arrived on Dickey Peak, which is a big massif about 11,000'.
From Dickey there are 2 main options to goal...cross back to the leeside and the nice clouds, or stay on the windward side. I opted for the windward side and was able to cross-ridge-soar my way for the next 20km at 12,000' over a succession of knife-edged peaks. It was very windy and I had to be careful not to get blown over the back (I heard somebody did, but was OK), and occasionally pushed out front to give myself some breathing space. This stretch was some of the nicest flying I've had in a long time; beautiful scenery, pointy peaks all over the place, and I practically had the whole place to myself ;)
But, the big mountains ended about 12km from goal, leaving an into-wind glide for the last part. By this time it was after 6pm and it was starting to glass off, with plenty of lift in the middle of the valley, so I was able to get the final 10km in very buoyant air. Even so, I arrived at goal with maybe 300' to spare and then back downwind to the LZ (apparently the original LZ was right at goal, but was a field owned by a landowner who wasn't receptive to pilots landing there, so after the first few pilots were yelled at, people started landing in the next field just out of the farmer's view :)
I was 2nd last into goal I think, after 6 hours of tasking, and 7 hours in the air. But I didn't care about taking so long; I was just glad to have made goal and not have to be retrieved from back of beyond.
Oh yeah, on the way back to Sun Valley and HQ we hit an owl, it was that dark :)
Pics can be found here, and results can be found here when they become available.
Not sure if we'll fly tomorrow...a cold front is moving in which usually means wind around here.