The forecast was looking pretty average for XC flying, but perfect for vol-bivy flying, and with it being the summer solstice, we would be able to sky-camp on the shortest night of the year! With the usual spot just coming out of the snow, there would be lots of water available (so less to tote ourselves) and less bugs to contend with as well.
|Our usual sky camping spot near Copper Mound|
Alex and I didn't actually launch until around 5 or 6pm, prior to that pilots were reporting it to be "spicy" and rather rough. James Elliot who was planning on sky-camping with us was in the air already so it was just a matter of going down to Copper and meeting up with him there. However the climb out was a bit slow and tedious, but once I got high I was able to get to Owl, the gap, and Barbour no problem, and then it was just an issue of top landing at the bivy spot.
|The usual camping spot is still under snow (right) so we have to use the secondary spot to the south.|
The bivy site itself was mostly still snow with a few exposed places, and the mine pits were also mostly snowed in, as was the amphitheatre down below. So after doing a bunch of passes over the site, I chose to land in the snowfield just north of the bivy site and walk over.
This time of year the usual tenting spots are still under snow, so we used the secondary spot just to the south...I also saw another 1-tent spot to the north that will be useful if it's a busy night with lots of other tents in the usual spots ;)
|Searching for cell signal...only in certain spots!|
It was just the 3 of us (Alex, myself, and James) after Scott relaunched to fly back to Pemberton and work the following day. We had a beautiful sunset which lasted for 2+ hours. Going to bed around 11:30pm it was still red in the skies to the NNW, and when waking up at 3:30am, the skies were already red to the NNE. Shortest night indeed!
|Enjoying the shortest night of the year. Photo courtesy of James Elliot.|
Of course with the shortest night comes the longest days, so we were up way too early to actually fly, so waited until around 9:30am or so before launching. The plan was to get back to the Beer Farm at least, and maybe even all the way back to the LZ. It was beautiful morning thermals on the SW faces between Copper and Barbour, and we took differing paths after that...Alex and I crossed to the Miller side of the valley, while James stuck to the Owl side of the valley. Alex and I got nada on the Miller side, and James also got nada on the Owl side....he only made it back since he was able to get higher at Barbour before continuing on, and flying an EN-D he had a better glide. Alex and I made it to the Beer Farm where it was far too hot, that early in the morning, to do much more than pack up and wait in the shade for Jame to come pick us up :)
|The snow is barely gone and already the alpine flowers are coming out!|