spring flying at Woodside March 23-24

50km FAI triangle on Saturday.
70km OR on Sunday.

The XC hounds were out in full force this weekend and we had several plans in place depending on how the weather shaped up.  Saturday started off with low cloudbase, around 1200m, but a bunch of us headed west anyways.  A bit of OD over the Sasquatch range while Harrison knob was in the sun, so Fred, Al, and I surfed under the clouds over the Fraser River until Big Nick, where I turned back after experiencing some cloudsuck while they continued to Dewdney and Stave Lake.

View towards Hope.
Time to top-land at Woodside to recharge and get ready for flight #2, this time over the back for the 50km triangle.  Nobody else on the Bridal side except Alan, and the clouds were shelving from the south, shading out the mountain range so it was tough to find lift down low.  I finally tanked up at Gloria back up to 1770m and then it was time to glide home, making sure to avoid the sliver of restricted airspace just north of the highway.

Initially I thought I was going to have to go into Harvest Market or possibly one of the connected sandbars and walk the rest of the way, but was able to get some sandbar thermals at the end of the day, an extra 200m, which was enough to get me around the corner of Mt. Woodside and back to the car...the IP6 excels at those long end-of-the-day glides!  Meanwhile Alex had done Hope-and-return, the first PGer to ever accomplish this (so proud!), almost claiming Martin Henry's bottle of scotch (although the challenge had been to also top-land Woodside after returning from Hope to claim the full prize).
Fraser Valley crossing: final glide from Gloria back to Woodside.

Sunday started off pretty cloudy and shady, and many of us were wondering if the day was actually going to shape up to anything.  But we lobbed off anyways and after about 30 minutes of scratching several of us got high enough to flop over the back to Agassiz Mountain, just for something to do (we still didn't believe it was going to get that good).  A few pilots landed at Harrison beach or the base of Bear, but Fred, Andrew, and I were still in the game.  Andrew opted to cross to Bridal while Fred and I continued east since it looked sunnier that way.

It was actually NE winds up high which meant flying to Hope was actually upwind.  Slow climbs but we eventually got to Dog Mountain where we finally got to 1700m and were able to see into the Fraser Canyon and up the Coquihalla Hwy.  By now the shade had largely disappeared and the climbs were strengthening.  It was fully outflow winds in Hope with the airplanes taking off and landing to the east, so the return flight was actually mostly downwind!  My low save came at Hunter Creek, a notorious wind tunnel on "normal" days, but this day it was 0 wind and I climbed out above a small fire and then it was pretty much ridge running, downwind, all the way to Bridal.  Even coming around the corner at Ludwig, another wind-tunnel area, was easy.

The final shade of the day as a band of cirrus came through and it was late enough that we went on final glide from Bridal launch height towards Agassiz.  We actually could have made it across to the Agassiz side, but the fields next to the bridge were very wet-looking so we opted to land in Rosedale instead in light east winds.
Staying warm in early spring means bundling up!

The day was incredibly light wind-wise; I don't think I've ever seen it so light (or east) in Hope in the afternoons.  It was a real treat to do Hope-and-return after Alex did it the day before!  Early spring is the best time to try these flights, when the  Fraser River is low and lots of sandbar landing options, we have light winds, and we have higher cloudbases to work with.

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