So far the XC season has been pretty thin for us on the West Coast...mediocre weather for the most part. But that all changed this weekend with both Saturday and Sunday looking quite good. Saturday looked like the better of the days for clouds, but was forecast to be windy, whereas Sunday was forecasting less wind. So it was Woodside on Saturday and Pemberton on Sunday!
|Heading across to Sasquatch on a strong day.|
Woodside on Saturday was working quite early; I launched just after noon and was soon at 1500m heading west. The plan was to head to Benedict and return, and then do the Raymont triangle if time permitted.
Heading to Dewdney was a bit tougher than we originally anticipated; the west wind kicked in around Deroche and getting around the corners of Deroche, Big Nick, and Dewdney was a bit tricky. Fortunately there were plenty of cu's to help us along; cloudbase rose throughout the day and by the time I was on my way back from Benedict, it was somewhere above 2000m and well above our airspace restriction of 1981m. I kept pulling out of climbs at 1700m just to be sure not to bust, as some of the climbs were so strong that if you waited until too late, you'd find yourself too high and no way to escape in time!
Alex and Peter decided to do the Hammer triangle and return to Woodside via Kenyon Lake and the Chehalis route. Kevin and Martin N turned around at Big Nick so they could return to Woodside quicker and do the Bridal part of the run sooner. By the time I got back to Sasquatch I was quite tired (it was quite active air and took a lot of concentration to fly) and decided to land at Eagle Ranch.
Meanwhile over at Bridal Kevin was reporting very "spicy" conditions at Ludwig for those crossing over, and back at Woodside launch most people were standing down since it was just too strong to launch safely. Peter and Alex made it back to Woodside: Peter by sneaking back to Sasquatch and doing the crossing the usual way, Alex by popping out at Harrison Hot springs and returning via Agassiz.
In the end it was quite the day with lots of strong climbs, windy mid-day, and one of the first real "spring" days of the season.
Flight to Mt. St. Benedict and back
Sunday was a bit of a different animal...no cu's and visually stable-looking with forecast high cirrus later in the day. Off to Pemberton to escape the Fraser Valley stability!
|Looking up Hurley Pass. The road is still snowed in so little (if any) traffic is getting through yet.|
Lots of pilots opted to launch from the upper launch but our group decided lower would be sufficient and yes, it was easy enough to climb out and join the rest of the pilots in the air. As usual, I found the MacKenzie basin air to be a bit rough and rowdy, and as usual, the air got a lot nicer once past Owl and the gap to Barbour! Climbs to 2500m under blue skies and I was feeling really good about flying out to Spindrift and back as the Lilloet River is still quite low and provides lot of LZ opportunities if you sink out past the Hurley Pass.
Met a few pilots returning from Spindrift/Athelstan area and I was getting to 2800m now. However the high cirrus was moving in and it was getting late in the day since I still had to fly home! So I decided to stop at the lee of Spindrift rather than fly around to the windward side for the even 100km, and started the trek home.
|Crossing Hurley Pass on the way up to Spindrift. High cirrus moving in!|
There is a new logging operation just south of North Creek on the bench around 1200m so if you need to land out in that area, you may get a ride or communications help from the folks there.
With the west wind the return home was relatively quick; I got back to Pemberton in less than 2 hours. Lots of smiling faces in the LZ as pilots were coming in from Athelstan and up the Ryan River valley. We had a scare at the very end of the day when Guy, who had a small (10%) cravatte on his left wingtip and was successfully flying straight and level with it for 1-2 minutes (not sure what put it there in the first place), did some small turns, induced a spin on the cravatted side, tail-slid, and threw his reserve. Now this all happened in final approach to the LZ, which put him directly over the road (and powerlines) at ~100'. Fortunately, during the tail slide he flew backwards enough that when he threw his reserve (at tree-top height) he ended up back over the other side of the road and over a backyard. As the reserve came to full extension he was below tree-top height and at first I thought the pendulum of him swinging under the now-extended lines would slam him into the ground. But the swing-through happened just high enough to land on his feet, in a small space too small to land anything but a vertically-descending round parachute, right next to a tree, the road, and powerlines. Guy was unhurt and very lucky!
Flight to Spindrift and back