Thursday, May 12, 2011

Woodside May 12

Sandpiper golf course
It was on-and-off rain in Vancouver today with occasional hail, but the webcams in the Valley were showing much sunnier conditions so we figured to head out.  Didn't get on the road until noon or so, which meant we didn't get around to launching until 3pm.  There were big cells around, but the north side of the valley was looking much better than the south side at the time, so Alex and I opted to head west for a bit (Alex was looking at doing the 80km triangle).

I was quite surprised to get my highest climb of the day right off launch, to 1900m.  With that kind of altitude it was pretty easy to glide to Sasquatch, but once over there, it was definitely tougher flying.  The thermals weren't obvious, and with the strong south winds aloft (although it was dead calm on Harrison Bay all day) things were drifting us north.  It was a continuous battle to stay out front and not end up behind some ridge with no way back out.

The run from Sasquatch, when I finally got up and out, to Big Nick was pretty gnarly.  I found the worst spot was in the Deroche area, although Alex said Big Nick felt worse to him.  In any case it was not easy flying by any means with a lot of active flying necessary, lots of rough patches, and lots of searching for lift.  We'd fly for a long time with no lift, and all of a sudden find some strong stuff in inexplicable places.  It wasn't reliable or obvious at all.  The south wind didn't help any; in fact I think it contributed to the nastiness around the Deroche/Big Nick area, with all the ridges in that area and the fact we had to oftentimes skirt around ridges rather than fly over them.

At the confluence of Harrison Bay and the Fraser River.

When I got to Big Nick I wasn't interested in going further west so I turned back and did a quick run back to Sasquatch where I tanked up and crossed back to Woodside.  Alex was still gung-ho on the whole Bear-Ludwig-Elk thing, but I was pretty tired by now and not really in the mood for an uber-epic XC flight, so after I flew over launch to close my 40km OR flight I landed at Eagle Ranch.

Meanwhile Al had launched and flown to Dewdney and back to Eagle Ranch, and Rob S. had landed at the Squakum beach.  Alex did the crossing from Bear to Ludwig (no sandbars on the other side to land on, BTW, as the river has now risen), and then got shut down by the shade from a late-day-forming storm cell up Stave Lake way, which was blocking the sun.  He landed just north of the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge where I picked him up.

Some leftover cells on the Bridal side.
All in all, it was a pretty good day, for a defintely OD-feeling day with lots of storm cells to the west of us, but none in the immediate eastern Fraser Valley for most of the afternoon.  We were all watching to make sure one didn't blow up in the middle of somebody's XC path, and for this reason we all opted for smaller XC's so we wouldn't get caught on the wrong side of a storm cell.

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