Surprising as it may seem, I've actually never flown from Black Mountain in WA state. Flown by it from BJ, but never launched from there! With the fly-in this weekend and hot and sunny weather, I decided it was time to head down there.
|Upper launch at Black Mountain with Silver Lake below. Vedder and Sumas Mountains in the background.|
~40 pilots had signed up for the event, but of the Canadians it was only Alex, myself, and Derek. Where was everyone? In any event, Saturday flying was quite nice with strong-but-launchable cycles and a choice of either the regular LZ, or the Silver Lake group camping LZ (which has been mowed for this event). Having a lake directly below launch makes it easy to see the wind strength and direction so we were able to keep an eye on when the valley wind switched from the morning south flow to the afternoon north flow. The earlier launchers got to 2000+ meters and later on it was more like 1700m, but I personally found it a big punchy and lots of holes in addition to the strong lift.
|Launch with a view!|
A honkin-big BBQ with smoked ribs and chicken plus salads galore so everyone was groaning with full bellies as the sun set. Then the telescope came out and we were looking at the various planets in the sky...a very red Mars and Saturn with its rings were easily visible. We had a bit of a scare as, some time after we had lit the portable propane fires, a firetruck came into the campground with its lights flashing...we thought we were about to get fined or something (even though we had permission to have open flames for this event). But nope, they were simply lost and asking for directions to another campground!
|Mt. Baker is right there; the day before a pilot flew from Black to Baker and return.|
Sunday morning we had a pancake breakfast and then it was time to decide to go flying or not...I had seen a few days ago that Sunday was likely to be blown out, and it was indeed as the wind picked up in the LZ, leaves were being torn off branches, windlines were starting up on the lake, and the spaceship lenticular clouds came out to play. Alex and I decided it was time to swim in Silver Lake while (I believe) some pilots went to Blanchard in hopes of a soaring flight (although I think it would have been blown out there too). As we drove back to Canada the area around Mt. Baker had completely OD'd and it looked like it could actually rain in the Cascades.