New pics are here!
My first flying day in Valle of this trip! I didn't bother flying yesterday as I was a bit tired from the overnight bus ride, but today I was ready to go. Caught a taxi up to El Penon with some Alberta pilots (150 pesos for the 3 of us) and it was indeed the zoo I was expecting. What a difference between Guadalajara and here! Hang gliders set up under the trees, paraglider bundles all over launch, dogs running around, kids selling stuff, even a local doing some repairs under the hood of his truck. San Marcos, El Chante, and Tapalpa were way quieter :)
However getting into the air was fairly straightforward: the local club has fluffers helping out on launch. But once in the air it felt a bit light and "fluffy"…climbs were slow and altitudes weren't what I've become used to since flying in Guadalajara: here only about 2700m to start with.
Uneventful over to Espina and then I jumped over the back to Maguey with a small gaggle. By now (noon) conditions had started to strengthen a bit and clouds were beginning to form.
There were tonnes of pilots doing the Maguey-->Divisidero run; I think the French team had set a mock task involving this run; I was able to fly with a bunch of IP6's and Enzo's. Yes they are indeed better gliders than my XC3, but the difference wasn't that appalling and it was nice to actually stay with the hot ships along this run. Divis is kinda nice for just being able to burble along it…you don't really to thermal so long as you stay on the lifty line; you'll find stuff!
The end of Divis was working as usual and there was a bit of mayhem as pilots were turning every which way so there was lots of yelling and egg-beater action going on. I could see the convergence starting to set up past Serro Gordo and I wanted to make it back to the lake, so I did a U-turn and back to 3 Kings where I shared a thermal with Pine and then it was off to Serro Gordo, cloudbase which had since risen to 3400m, and then the giant glide to the lake LZ. Flight is here.
Other pilots flew up towards Saucos but I didn't feel like trying that today; some of them were sinking out on the way back to the lake and I didn't really want to take a taxi back to town :)
The lake LZ is quite a lot smaller than last time I flew here in 2009. The water has risen and the flat area below the main LZ that you could put down on if you came up short is now underwater, so you just have the plateau to land on, and of course it was full of bunched-up gliders, tandems landing, kids kiting, and about 100 people milling around. Fortunately there's plenty of lakebreeze to allow you to hoover into a spot-landing if need to.
So it wasn't an overly big flight, just the "milkrun" so I could re-familiarize myself with the various common XC points, but it was a lot of fun, especially since I actually had comp pilots to fly with. Pretty much all the PWC pilots are in town now, so many of the regular PG tours are starting to leave town in anticipation of the Superfinal taking over the whole show.