Solstice flying June 21

Initially we thought we'd head to Pemberton but the wx there was looking a bit too cloudy for our tastes so we went to the Fraser Valley instead.  Woodside was looking good with a big cu perched atop it and pilots flying around when we showed up.

Looking west
In the air it was actually hard to get above 1100m but once through the inversion the ride to cloudbase got much easier, to almost 1900m!  This is really high for Woodside, and we were debating whether to use this altitude to head west for the 60km triangle, or head east to Hope.  Alex, Robin, and I opted for the east-to-Hope route (we don't usually get to fly to Hope but I wanted to do something different), while Al opted for a big triangle by heading west.

Over on Bear Alex got a climb to cloudbase and was away to Hicks while I was stuck on Bear and Robin was back on Agassiz.  Eventually I found a climb that took me to 1600m and on my way to Hicks.  It seemed to be north around the Harrison Lake area so I took the north line towards Squalik and picked up some climbs along the way, but nothing like the Woodside or Bear climb, and the clouds were drying up on the Woodside side of the river.

Dog Mountain with the gondola line on the left.
Passed by Robin who was at Hicks looking for a climb and joined with Alex who was stuck at Squalik.  This time of year with the river so high, there are few landing options along this stretch so we wanted to make sure we were high enough to make the glide across the river to the Hope airport if necessary.  Robin had found a nice climb off Hicks and crossed into Laidlaw to continue the flight to Hope via that side.

Eventually Alex dove over the back from Squalik to Dog Mountain and then it was my turn to be stuck on Squalik.  I wanted to be at least 1000m here in order to continue to Dog Mountain, but I could only get to 900m.  Eventually, after coloring in the terrain with my tracklog over Squalik, I found an anemic thermal which drifted me over the back into the rotor but was getting me over 1000m, so I took it and dove over to the cliffs on Dog.

I had never been to Dog Mountain before (most of my to-Hope flights have involved a final glide at this point and leaving the mountains) and I had an easy glide to the airport, so I took the opportunity to sight-see and be a tourist for a while.  I didn't know Dog had a gondola that goes to the towers at the top!  The cliffs were working nicely and I could have gotten back up and high, but the airport was beckoning and Rob S was reported to be on his way to pick us up (he hadn't been able to get through the inversion at Woodside and eventually landed).
Hope airport on the right.

Hoovered into the airport next to Robin and Alex and then off to Bridal to get Rob a second flight (thanks for picking us up, Rob!).  En-route to Bridal I received a SPOT message from Al saying he had landed out.  I had setup a shared SPOT page for Al a few weeks back, so I accessed it now and emailed the map and co-ords link to Jim who was planning on picking him up.

Back at Bridal it was glassing off nicely but I decided to be the retrieve bunny this time and told the boys to do a glide test from Bridal to Agassiz where I would pick them up.  Meanwhile over at Elk the hike-and-fly guys were whooping it up with a big Solstice party (apparently with nudity, women, and booze involved) where they were planning on spending the night.  Kevin flew over and joined them briefly but opted for his own bed at the end of the day :)

We had a scare on launch when one of the visiting CA pilots tried to do a Lindsay into the stumps below the rock, but miraculously flew away with a bunch of leaves in his lines and I'm sure soiled pants.

Picked the boys up at the school in Agassiz and then off for Indian food while we heard that Jim had picked up Al.  Ain't technology wonderful?  Years back, if somebody landed out by themselves, there could be a major search for a missing pilot, but nowadays if you have a SPOT, you can let people know where you are.  I fly with a SPOT as well (mostly for comp retrieval purposes) but I always find it comforting to know I have it in case I land out and don't have cellphone coverage.

Alex and I are off to Cortes Island for the next week, so no flying for us until we return!

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