With school back in session, most people back to work, and the forest fire smoke dissipating, it was time for an Interior road trip! Started with a flight at Bridal Falls (we were driving by anyways!) and it was doing that thing where the south wind causes the cloud to "shelf" over the Bridal range. Still flyable and easy to get to cloud base at 1700m, but going west I stopped at Gloria since Elk Mountain was very shady with zero sun on the slopes, whereas the Bridal ridge still had sun patches every so often.
Bridal Falls flight
After spending the night near Hedley, we pulled in to the Ripley/Ottos LZ the following morning and hiked up to Ripley to join up with Pete and Rob for a quick ridge soar before the wind died and the clouds came in. It's a good thing we were a group of 2...we startled a very fat black bear who was snoozing in the bushes next to the hiking trail and he exploded out of the bush away from us...we later on lots of bear scat with embedded berries, and Alex reported seeing him again from the air later on.
|It's a short hike up to both Ripley and Ottos. Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.|
The local club has a "clubhouse" set up on the way to Ottos launch, on the private property of the local landowner who is happy for us to stay on his property so long as we are quiet and clean up. It has a fantastic view and is secluded and gated off, perfect for camping! And you can hike up to Ottos right from there, and land there if you like, which is what several people did the following day when it was light and hadn't yet turned on. Alex and I waited for it to turn on a bit more before launching, since the site is low enough that you can easily sink out.
|Dinner at the Ottos clubhouse! Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.|
Both Ripley and Ottos are lovely sites and the local pilots are very friendly and will happily show you the launches and LZ...just hit them up on the local WhatsApp chat group!
|Ottos launch with the lingering forest fire smoke near Osoyoos. Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.|
After a couple days in the southern Okanagan, we relocated to the Vernon/Lumby area to fly Coopers since there was a light wind day coming up, and we hadn't flown Coopers in years. Freedom Flight Park is at the base and caters to both HG and PG pilots, does lessons, towing, ultra lighting, and has camping and kitchen facilities available. Many pilots set up shop for the entire season and just base out of there! The launch is also fantastic...they have carpeted pretty much the entire thing so you can lay out anywhere and keep your gear clean, nice!
|Baldy launch has some new black carpet! Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.|
Despite the light winds it was actually blowing over the back up high, and once launching it was very leeside but stay-up-able. Cloudbase was around 2400m with lots of clouds over the plateau behind launch, these clouds later on dissipated as the afternoon dried up. Flights to almost Vernon Mountain and return, plus some local triangle flying around the Lumby area. It was so nice to still have XC conditions in September!
|Alex launching King Eddy on an almost-blown-out day.|
|Lilloet just outside the visitor centre.|
Lots of flying at Baldy/King Eddy as well with the Paraglide Canada crew plus locals. The Baldy launch is currently carpeted as well and I believe they will be "beefing up" the carpet next season.
After a couple days in the Vernon/Lumby area, we decided to hit up Pemberton on the way back to Vancouver for a final XC flight to close out the local season. We actually saw new snow on the peaks along the Duffy Lake road, winter is definitely coming! And it was extremely cold at altitude in Pemberton (2500m), very much like early Spring flying. It was actually overdeveloping in spots and it felt a bit pushy to stay in the air too much longer, so I just did the run to Copper Dome and return, landing at the Beer Farm in the shade from an overdeveloping cell.
|On final glide to the Beer Farm with the overdevelopment all around.|
|Nice landing at the Beer Farm, I wouldn't want to be landing in Pemberton now!|
All in all a successful road trip to close out the local XC season, and time to start thinking about a winter flying trip!
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