Small road trip May 12-16, 2023

 With Alex off to Europe and I had some time off, I decided to do a small road trip to the Okanagan, after first stopping at BJ for a possible around-Baker flight.

The forecast for BJ (and Baker) was calling for high cloud base and light winds, but the actual reality was there was some SE wind up high, which made me decide not to pursue Baker but stay local.  The air was a bit rough as well, not really to my liking.  All the pilots who attempted the circumnavigation of Baker ended up landing out with long walks out and nighttime retrieves, so I was happy to be back at the LZ with daylight to spare.

BJ RASP for May 12

As the forecast for the following day was for more stable conditions and east wind, I opted to head inland to the North Okanagan to fly Coopers.  Not ideal flying conditions as it was actually NE up high and a bit stable, so after an hour or so I landed at the Freedom Flight Park, which has a very nice setup for visiting pilots...camping, kitchen, shower, wifi, Astroturf to pack up on, etc.  Very civilized!

With the continued east wind and stability to the north, I then headed to Oliver to try my luck at Ottos.  However we ended up going up to Upper Ripley instead, which was a nice change.  You can launch from the SE to the NE and are starting from much higher (almost 1000m), which, for a stable day, makes things much easier!  Had a nice flight with Peter and Rob et al before heading back to Coopers for another short flight as it was threatening to OD later on.

Upper Ripley in Oliver with the springtime flowers.

Finished off the road trip with a flight in Pemberton, where I did the abbreviated milk run to Copper Dome and back.  A bit of north wind up high which, as usual, made the flying a bit rough on the MacKenzie side.  I expect the Miller side would have felt better in the air.

Lower Bridal April 29

A beautiful spring day and did the classic Bridal run from Ludwig to Elk.  Strong south wind up high but as usual, not a problem for flying Bridal!

 Bridal 38km OR.

RASP for April 29 @ Bridal

Woodside triangle April 14

After a very wet beginning to April we finally had a forecast that was looking pretty sweet, the kind of day you blow off work, if able!

Woodside windgram for April 14

Not much inflow wind early in the day, and Harrison Bay was *very* low (it looked like you could actually walk across the Bay!) which made the crossing to Sasquatch very easy.  Up to cloudbase and then time to make our way west towards Dewdney.  My plan was to turn around at Big Nick (and not make the final Dewdney crossing) and then do the Raymont Triangle (Woodside-Bear-Ludwig-Bridal-Elk-Woodside).

Crossing from Sasquatch back to Woodside.  A very low Harrison River!

Cloudbase was comfortable under the 1981m airspace limit, so as long as you remained out of the clouds you were fine!  Crossing back to Woodside was also easy, but it took me a bit to climb high enough, once at Woodside, to glide to Agassiz Mountain.  But finally made it over there and then the crossing to Bear, where some pilots were reporting it being a bit "rough".  Personally I didn't find it any worse than usual, and after getting to 1600m crossed over to Ludwig.

Hwy 7 with the November 2021 landslide still visible, and Hwy 1, looking east towards Hope.

The Bridal side was shady in lots of spots, fortunately the Ludwig/Butterfly location was sunny enough to get high and then do the big glide to the other side of the shade, with a pitstop at 4 Brothers to tank up in a shady thermal.  Despite the shade there was lots of lift and also several pilots flying the Bridal side already who had launched from there.

We weren't really feeling any inflow wind yet, but those who were attempting to cross back to Woodside from downwind (Agassiz/Bear area) were reporting significant west wind and landing short of Woodside, near Harvest Market or Harvest West.  So it sounded like crossing from as far upwind would be best, ie. Elk.

Final into-wind glide to the Riverside LZ.

Cloudbase at Elk was something like 1800m, but you have to be below 1676m when crossing the TransCanada highway west of the Agassiz/Rosedale bridge, so it's a bit of a challenge to make the glide.  You almost always need a flatland thermal partway across to make it.  Fortunately there were still lots of mid-valley cu's forming (not a common occurrence in the late afternoon!) so Tom and Kevin and myself started the glide across.  As per usual, there was a thermal popping off just downwind of the golfcourse at Little Mountain, which got me another 400m and an easy glide to Riverside.  In fact, once back at Woodside, it was tough to get down as everything was lifting off!

78 km FAI triangle flight.

Upper Tunnel Bluffs April 12

 The weather conditions in the Fraser Valley were looking a bit overdevelop-y, but perfect for the north shore, and with a very low tide of 0.5m at 5pm, that meant a Tunnel Bluffs flying day!

I have only been up Tunnel a few times, it's a long hike for me so I don't do it very much.  Many thanks to Guillaume who drove a bunch of us to the upper trailhead parking, and then drove back down, so we could get a 200m elevation gain head start while he hiked from the bottom (he's training as a supporter for the 2023 X-Alps!).

A busy launch at Upper Tunnel

This time of year there's lots of water available en-route, so no need to carry water, just a filter, saves some weight!  And the launch still has a bit of snow in the back which is nice as that helps to reduce the chance of line-snaggage.  When the snow fully melts it'll be time to add more grass seed to make the launch even nicer!

We had 9 people on launch today, which is a site record, and I opted to go last as I wanted to relax a bit after the hike and not feel like being in a rush.  Plenty of lift in the skies, but down low it felt a bit rough, while up higher it was definitely smoother.

Looking north up Howe Sound and the Brunswick Beach LZ.

This time of year the Lions are still fully in the snow, and possibly top-landable, but with the always-there risk of sinking in up to your thighs and having a hard time relaunching :)  Best to simply enjoy them from the air, and also the views of the Vancouver skyline, and of course the fjiord itself with the mountains dropping directly into Howe Sound.  Some OD on Vancouver Island and also Gambier Island ended up with some rain coming out of a cloud that didn't seem to really justify it...just so unstable I guess!

Upper tunnel flight.

Short road trip to southern Okanagan

 Alex and I have been wanting to go on a southern California road trip, but unfortunately since many of the roads and passes in CA are currently (still) closed due to snow, flooding, landslide, etc, and since the weather on the Oregon coast was also looking iffy, we decided to head to the southern Okanagan instead to fly with the local pilots there.

It's still very much winter there with snow higher up, and the occasional snowsquall in the Willowbrook area.  But flyable if you are willing to put up with the cold!

As usual Ottos was the call for most days (they have a ENE launch in addition to the usual S/SE launch), with the occasional McIntyre, Secrest, or Parker choices, depending on wind direction, strength, and whether it was going to OD or not.

As always, the trip was a success with several flights and also nice quiet camping listening to the coyotes at night.  A nice change from the city!

Mt. St. Benedict March 29

 Al Thielmann very kindly offered his truck to drive up a bunch of equipment while pilots hiked up.  Unfortunately, his driver did not want to attempt to drive through the still-snowy upper part of the road, so we all had to hike up our gear from that point onwards.  Then when Al arrived from his hike, he walked down and Hammered his way up the snowy part and got the truck to launch anyways!

March 29 windgram for Mt. St. Benedict.

There was quite the crew on launch today; I counted 19 pilots!  And cloudbase was very high, above airspace, plus very cold, something like -10C at 2000m.  Dress warm!

Several pilots including Alex flew the back way to Woodside and onwards to Bridal, while I decided to stay "local" and fly the Steelhead region, as I needed to land near the car since we were continuing inland to the southern Okanagan after flying.  Staying legal, airspace-wise, was difficult as cloudbase was somewhere north of 2000m, and after I hit the convergence between the upper level NE, and the incoming SW, I briefly exceeded the ceiling according to my GPS.  But as it's actually barometric pressure that matters and not GPS, after making the necessary instrument adjustments I came in at 1980m, 1 meter under the 1981m ceiling, that's cutting it tight!

The water levels in both Hatzic lake and also Stave Lake are extremely low, making for some nice emergency LZs if need be, although it would then be a long walk back to a road.  But as the conditions were so "on" that wasn't really a could fly anywhere and it was hard to get down!

33km FAI triangle.  

Woodside March 18 and 22

 First flights of 2023 and on my new Swift 6!  Since I'm a lot more picky nowadays about the days I fly, I decided to step down to an EN-B (my first in 20 years!).  I'm happy to say it's not much of a difference, performance-wise to an EN-C, but has an easier mental workload.  I'm also happy to be on a brightly-colored glider for improved visibility and safety.

I hadn't flown since October 2022 so definitely some cobwebs to dust off.  Not really XC conditions but it was fun to fly around for 2 hours in light lift and make sure my reflexes and instruments are still up-to-snuff :)  I think Alex and myself were the only ones to get high enough to drift back to the cellphone antennas.