Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bridal March 25

Lots of trees down on the road.
Opted for Bridal just for a change of pace, even though it would be hiking from about 1/2 way up due to snow.  Rob, Alex, Graeme, and I hiked up in about 3-4' of snow (there is a packed tail however, no snowshoes necessary although gaiters are helpful) in just over 1 hour.  There are *lots* of trees down on the road above where the snow starts, so once the snow melts and it's possible to get vehicles and chainsaws to the downed trees, it'll be time for a significant workparty.

No-wind forward launch time!
Up on launch it was pretty lame and in the end only Alex and Graeme chose to launch while Rob and I hiked back down to save a hiking-up retrieve later on.  Sled rides all 'round.  Sounds like it was similar over at Woodside with extended sledders.  But it was nice to have launch all to ourselve, get some hiking exercise in at the same time, and see the state of the road for when the snow melts and the crowds start showing up.
Another big tree down just below the spur road.



Friday, March 23, 2012

Woodside March 23

Crossing the powerline valley to St. Benedict.
Another cold but excellent XC day, although it was a late start.  With the lack of wind and high base a bunch of us were thinking of doing the fabled Woodside-Hope-and-return flight, with Martin H having to come through on his promise of a case of beer for the first PG pilot to do this (if a group does it all at the same time, do we all get cases of beer?...could turn expensive Martin!).  But alas it was initially inverted which meant we were not really able to get going until later (2pm-ish) which cost us a couple of usable hours.  And even then we had to work to get high at the beginning...it wasn't a cakewalk like other days.

Dropping out in Norrish creek on the way back to Woodside.
But there was XC all over the place today...I and a bunch of others went west to Big Nick, Dewdney, Haztic Lake, and Mt. St. Benedict, while others flew over the back to Bear, Ludwig, and Bridal.  The clouds were dropping out a bit on the Bridal side and a big one started dropping out behind Benedict...I got snowed on as I tagged Benedict and then got the hell out of there and back to the sun.  Big shade from that same cloud shaded out the entire range from Big Nick back to Sasquatch, so I had to run to Harrison knob to find sun (it didn't work), landed at Eagle Ranch after getting back to Woodside a bit too low to re-climb back out.
Deroche and Sasquatch in shade...run for the sun!

Alex and Rob, after tagging Big Nick and Dewdney, instead of heading to St. Benedict with me, turned around and flew back to Woody in time to do the Woody-Bridal jump, although they didn't make it back to Woodside proper, landing at Harvest Market and Agassiz respectively.  Al chose to land at his property in the Sylvester valley after flying the north side of Deroche and Big Nick, coming out of Norrish creek over the water treatment plant back to the Fraser Valley.  Saw Miguel, Tom Chromy, and Matt J. at Dewdney as well so there was plenty of XC action going on.  We even had a rare Alan-Dickey-at-Woodside sighting, going XC from Woodside to Big Nick and then return.  Spring is here!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Woodside March 19

Looking west from Sasquatch Mountain
My first flight since getting back from Mexico, and it was certainly cold!  Big puffy jacket, 2 wool layers, 2 balaclavas, ski goggles, mittens, and chemical handwarmers were needed to stay warm today.  But it was worth it!

The first group of pilots were already in the air by the time we arrived on launch (you can drive to the spur road despite all the new snow; the Hammer-mobile went all the way in) and it wasn't looking too promising with north cycles and shading-over skies.  But it turned more-on shortly and it didn't matter if it was blue or not...there was plenty of lift in most places.


At Sasquatch Mountain looking back at Woodside
It took me a while to get high enough to contemplate an into-wind crossing to Sasquatch and by the time I got up to cloudbase just shy of 1650m, I was very far north and not in the optimal position for jumping west, but I figured I'd go for it anyways.  The SW wind made crossing a bitch from my originating angle but I managed to get up on the other side just in time to watch a huge waterbomber come bombing through over Echo lake ~800m above me.

It was significantly SW over there and not so nice to continue west, so I snuck up to Sasquatch peak to get a few photos and then headed back to Woodside.  I didn't leave from very high, 1000m at the bumps, but I found something over Eagle Ranch which gave me an extra 100m and just enough oomph to continue to Woodside proper without committing to the bailout swamp and ignominy.

Sasquatch peak 
Started heading to Agassiz Mountain but about 1/3 of the way there I watched a shadow line creep up the mountain and realized it would shade it out before I got there so I turned around.  And a cell was dumping snow over on Elk and the SW winds aloft was pushing it our way.  Oh well time to head over the river and explore the sandbars; there was a paramotor there earlier doing touch-n-goes.  Landed just as it started to grey out and get all misty-looking.

In the end I flew for 3.5 hours and had quite a nice flight flying over the freshly-snowed-in trees.  (Tracklog is here.)  Other pilots flew to Agassiz and back, or over to Ludwig and Bridal, while a bunch stayed local and top-landed to drive down the multitude of vehicles.  Alan at Bridal had worse luck...he hiked up and then back down as it wasn't really launchable.  And I heard Ivan commenting about some Elk flights.  Looking at the forecast, this may have been it for the next 4-5 days at least!