|About to head into no-mans land.|
Essentially a straight line ESE to Dubois for almost 200km, taking us over some serious tiger country. I was excited since it was going to be new terrain for me as I haven't flown SE from Sun Valley before.
Unfortunately there was a serious headwind to Hailey which slowed things down and cost us valuable task time. Also cloudbase was unexpectedly low...only 14,500' when we were thinking more like 18,000'+, so crossing 12,000' mountain ranges was gonna be harder with that kind of limited clearance. Another obstacle was the airspace around Hailey...many pilots flew into the 2400m/9km zone so they'll get penalized when the final scores come out. I flew into the 9km zone but made sure to stay well above 2400m so I stayed legal during the transition ;)
The flight had lots of awesome terrain to fly over...after the reservoir it was into serious tiger country with small dirt roads, limited LZ's, and a long walk out. At one point I committed to a small peak north of Blizzard Mountain that I had to get up on...otherwise my options were to sidehill land on the mountain and walk out since it was too much of a glide to a valley LZ, or jump over the back into a canyon. But I was feeling good about getting up since there was a huge cu maintaining over the peak with a nice west-facing slope, and eventually I beamed out to 14,500' and I could see civilization again in the distance.
Crossing the Antelope valley I zigged when I should have zagged and ended up getting too low on a small hill and landed next to a dirt road. Fortunately I was next to an abandoned farmhouse and was able to hang out there for retrieve. No cell phone coverage and limited radio, but my SPOT was working perfectly and they knew where I was and I was retrieved fairly efficiently.
We had at least one reserve deployment in the mountains but the pilot was OK and retrieved successfully. As of now (midnight) there are still oodles of pilots en-route to HQ and there was nobody in goal. Apparently a couple of pilots made it very close, but in the end the task was a bit too big of a bite :)
Even though I only flew 72km of the task it feels like way more; the beginning of the task was really slow and flying in strong conditions for 6 hours really takes a lot out of you. I've felt less tired after 100km flights back home :) Many pilots are actually hoping tomorrow is cancelled (possible t-storms) so they can sleep and recuperate after today's epic flying and retrieving.