Saturday, May 19, 2012

Woodside May 19

Today's flight was mostly an exercise in frustration.  I launched maybe 10 minutes after Al, but I was unable to get high enough to join him and Alex for the glide west to Sasquatch.  When I was finally able to get to 1650m and glide over there, they were about 30 minutes ahead of me and the west wind was picking up and it was stabling out.

I made my way to Big Nick and figured I wouldn't make the glide to stable-looking Dewdney into the increasing west wind, so I opted to jump back to Rose Mountain in the Norrish Creek area...it had a nice cloud over it while Dewdney had zip.  My hope was to get high enough there to jump over to McNab and skip Dewdney/Pattison entirely, and there is a nice LZ at the water treatment plant directly at its foot (with plenty of long weekend traffic).

I got up to around 1800m over Rose (cloudbase was around 2100-2200m) and tried pushing west to McNab to get over the saddle, but was shot down by the rotor caused by the west wind.  I tried this 2x, but I simply couldn't get over the saddle and into the Sylvester valley with the height I was allowing myself.  At that point I realized I pretty much had 2 options:

1.  Land at the water treatment plant and get a ride out with a local long-weekender.
2.  Climb higher, bust airspace, but get across McNab and into the Sylvester valley.

In the end I opted for #2 and climbed past 2000m, which allowed me to get high enough to cross the saddle and emerge into the Sylvester valley.  Once on the west side of McNab I was quite tired and frustrated, and decided to bite the bullet and just land while I was still ahead :) Went around the corner of Dewdney and landed at the Little Nick gas station LZ, where I got a ride back to the car.

Meanwhile Alex and Al had gotten away from Woodside earlier than me and had gotten around Dewdney before it stabled out, heading north to Stave Lake and Al's 100km triangle.  In the end they did do the triangle, with Alex opting to land at the Chehalis reservation and getting a ride back to the car, arriving at the same time as me.  In fact, our two rides knew each other!

Those that launched later at Woodside never got about 1200m and many did the Woodside-Bridal route, with Robin getting the top honours for the lowest arrival on Ludwig and getting out, while others were forced into the triangle LZ on the #1 highway.  Climbs to 2000m+ at Elk near the end of the day!

In Pemberton there were big flights too with flights up to Birkenhead and return, as well as Meager and return.  For those doing the Birkenhead-and-return flights, make sure to stay high and stay safe!  Alex and I have reconnoitred that valley as a possible XC route, and the valley is filled with 4 sets of high tension powerlines running the length of the valley and overhanging pretty much all the possible LZ's, and it gets nasty windy in there.  There may be sandbar action this time of year, and there are fields and an airstrip at Gates Lake, so not every LZ is covered by a powerline :)

Reports of a reserve toss over the Pemberton airport as well (!!) by an acro pilot.  It was indeed a busy day for flying over the lower mainland.  Unfortunately I was unable to really partake, mostly because I was too late getting off launch at Woodside, and it cost me getting high enough, soon enough, for me to join Al and Alex on their journey.  And because I had to intentionally bust airspace in order to continue west, I screwed myself contests-wise since I can't post my flight, so no tracklog is available :)  Later on, upon reflection, I could have done a couple of other things:

3.  At Rose, glide back to the backside of Big Nick on the cutblocks and hope to climb high enough there to get to the Fraser Valley side, and fly back to Woodside.  The water treatment plant LZ is still available if you don't get up on the backside of Big Nick.

4.  Fly further north up the Norrish Creek drainage, and pop out near the Statlu river, joining up with Al and Alex.  The Norrish FSR was really busy with vehicles up to Dickson Lake.  Places to land on the actual Norrish Creek sandbars, or on the FSR where it widens out.  Past Dickson Lake not sure about LZ's as I couldn't see any further.

Had I been a bit more adventurous, I would have tried #4, but I was by myself and not in the best mental frame of mind.  Otherwise I would have tried flying the Norrish all the way north and skipped the Sylvester valley altogether.  Maybe a bunch of us can try this another day?

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