Monday, May 11, 2015

Trying to Fly

I watch the wind these days, for the right direction and the right strength at the right time, to kite or maybe even fly my paraglider. Frustratingly, these three elements seldom align.

Earlier in the week it started to look like conditions might be reasonable on Sunday morning at a nearby hill - the wind in the right direction and not too strong. As the day approached, the forecast shifted and it looked like it might be good Saturday evening as well. Great, I thought, I could camp out and fly in the evening and the morning. But it shifted again and Sun. morning the wind was going to be totally backwards. But Sat. evening still looked good. The wind was too strong during the day but was forecast to drop to 10 kmh around 4pm. That was almost a little light but I figured it would probably be stronger at the top of the hill, so even if it was double the forecast I'd be ok.

I arrived at 5pm and hiked up to the top of the hill. I came up on the side away from the wind so things seemed good. But as soon as I stepped on top I knew it was too strong. It was gusting to over 30 kmh (where my wind meter maxes out), over triple the forecast. I settled in to practice my "parawaiting". Although it was a reasonably warm spring day it was still chilly sitting in the wind on the top of the hill. I figured that the wind had to die down eventually (as it typically does in the evening). I'd give it till 6. When that arrived with no change in the wind I decided I'd give it till 6:30. At 7 I gave up and headed down the hill. Two hours of waiting was about my limit!

The wind wasn't quite as strong at the bottom of the hill so I decided I'd see if it was kiteable. It was a little gusty but after a few tries I managed some decent kiting. That gave me a little more optimism. And it seemed maybe the wind was easing off. I decided I could probably fly the bottom part of the hill. Flying 20 or 30 feet isn't exactly the thrill of a lifetime but it sure beats sitting waiting!

I started with forward launches because the hill is steep and uneven and I wanted to see where I was going. But it was hard to control the glider in the shifting wind so I switched to reverse launches and was just careful not to back up!

I gradually worked my way higher up the hill. I'm not sure if the wind was actually getting lighter or I was just getting used to it. I went back up to the top but it was still too strong. I did get in a couple of flights from just below the top that were at least long enough to sit back in the harness and make some gentle turns. I got in about an hour of flying, and a good workout of climbing the hill repeatedly.

Shelley was, as usual, busy with SSAR so I was on my own. Not that it's any riskier on your own, the only advantage is you'd have someone to call for help. I brought my inReach emergency beacon and carefully turned it on before I started. But I realized after I was done that I had forgotten to put it in the pocket of my harness. Oh well, if I had broken a leg I would have just had to crawl across the field to where I left it :-) My father used to say it was a curse to have too good an imagination.

As it turned out, the main risk was the ticks. I'd heard they were bad, but I didn't notice any at first. Then I happened to glance down and I had about ten crawling on my pant legs. I found a bunch more crawling up my ankles and legs. I found more when I got home and stripped. The next day I found one crawling on my desk!

Later, out of curiosity I checked the wind at the best hill I found in south-west Saskatchewan. And, of course, since I'm not there it was looking perfect for flying. It's pretty obvious this is going to be a frustrating business!

No comments:

Post a Comment