California trip September/October

With the winter rains approaching and some free time, Alex and I decided it was time to revisit Marina and get some sand-dune flying in.  Marina in the fall can be quite nice, especially if you time it correctly to get the onshore winds.  But don't leave it until too late, otherwise you'll start getting the offshore winds!

Alex getting his new glider sandy.
Arrived to Marina to find it on already (the forecast had showed it being on for the past few days) so we immediately started flying from the ramp at Marina State Beach.  It was a tad on the light side (~9-10 mph) but doable, and we could see a group at Lakecourt.  Turns out it was Dave Turner with a tour group of Russian pilots of varying skill levels.

Point Lobos Nature Reserve, just south of Monterey
It had been a while since I had flown the sand dunes, but it came back quickly and much less sand in my glider vs. last time!  Crossing the gaps is fun if you are at all competent with kiting, as you can just kite your way the last bit across, and start flying where the dune starts rising again.

Some of the local HG's came out to play!
The next four days it was on every day starting around noon (W or NW 12-15 mph), and the last couple of days it blew out by 3pm.  But that's plenty of hours to surf low, do the Sand City run and return, or kite your way through the gaps.  We had company most days (in fact it was busiest I've ever seen at Marina) of both PG and HG, including a local HG who was a pleasure to watch...his launches and landings next to the ramp were butter-smooth.

The view into Yosemite Valley
Even though Marina continued to be flyable for several days after, we decided it was time to move on and we went to Yosemite National Park to do some hiking etc.  Despite it being early fall, it was still very busy in the main valley and even in Tolumne meadows and Tioga Pass.  Some days it was sunny, other days it rained or snowed, depending on how high you were.  Nights were below freezing!

Icy water in Tolumne!  The only reason it wasn't iced up was because it was flowing...
On the east side of Tioga Pass was Owen's Valley, a welcome change from the cold in the Pass.  It was a stable period with it being difficult to get above the 12-13,000' peak, but we were just happy to be warm and dry!  Met up with Kari and Cookie and Brian, plus a visiting pilot from Oz and a couple from Monterey, so we had a good crew most days.

Hilltop Hot Springs, near the Mammoth Airport
Finally it was time to return home to the wet NW for work, just in time for the first major rain- and windstorms of the season.  Until next time!

Beautiful fall colors around Convict Lake

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