Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fly British Columbia

Over the past couple weeks, Andrew and I were out in the mountains on a paragliding and climbing trip. Unfortunately, neither of us think we can also fit scuba diving gear in the car!

Since our training course in Santa Barbara in March (where we were able to do just one mountain flight) we'd only done a bit of kiting around home and a few small flights off a local hill. Therefore, one of our goals was to get a bit more time with an instructor and to get feeling more comfortable in our skills and longer flights.

We first headed to Vernon due to its close proximity to climbing at Skaha Bluffs in Penticton. After three long days with two or three flights per day, I'm not sure if I was feeling better about things or not! Both of us were having really crappy luck with launches (obviously more kiting practice is in our future!) but thankfully the launch areas were mostly forgiving. (The newest rip in my pant leg and scratches and bruises on my leg not withstanding.)
Flying at Baldy, near Vernon, BC. Four gliders in the air and cows in the landing zone!
Andrew doing "big ears" to lose some altitude.
Andrew coming in for a landing. Watch out for the cow in the zone!
On my very first flight I came much closer to a tree than I would have liked which put some healthy fear into me! We were learning more about thermals and what to look and listen for to find them and what to do to try to stay in them to gain some altitude. On one flight the tight turns made Andrew a bit nauseous but he recovered quickly.

After the second day of three flights and very hot weather, I had a splitting headache!  I finally took an Ibuprofen in the morning and was somewhat better before our flight at a new and higher launch but obviously not better enough. I never felt nauseous but just feeling "off."

We got some great thermals that morning but after a few 360's I soared back & forth (with a head that was still spinning 360's) toward the landing zone and after 55 minutes was more than ready for the flight to end.

When Andrew got down after an hour and 20 minute flight, including some cross country, he was so excited about flying! I felt bad that I didn't share his enthusiasm. A conversation at supper one evening shortly after this demonstrated the difference in our comfort levels. "What I really like is that it's sort of like a game of hide & seek. You know, trying to find the thermals," said Andrew. "Ya," I replied, "I just wanna not crash."

Panorama from Cooper's launch near Lumby, BC.
Andrew coming in for landing after a long flight.
Ready to touch down!
We then headed to Skaha. After the stress of paragliding, we were pretty mellow and climbed nothing but sport routes that we'd done before and were quite comfortable on.
Andrew rappelling off "Plum Line" -- a beautiful 10a at Skaha and one of my all-time favourite routes.
We were (unusually) social butterflies during this trip and had great visits with climbing friends Ian Marsh and Murray Hainer in Vernon (who we hadn't seen in years!) and Ellen Woodd in Summerland; with Andrew's work crew (Pete, Joanne, Irwin and Irwin's wife, Christine) in Penticton; and then made a quick detour to Kamloops to see my niece Julie and her new beau, Bryce.

As we headed back in the direction of home we stopped in Revelstoke and got two flights at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR). The ski hill boasts the highest vertical in North America. This was by far my favourite two flights. Mostly because I easily had 1/2 hour flights without doing too many 360's. Even going straight to the landing zone, it's still a 15-20 minute flight! And being surrounded by snow-capped peaks was amazing!
Laying out the gliders at highest launch point at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. 
Andrew just after takeoff from the launch at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Love the snow-capped peaks!
Ski runs and the town of Revelstoke. 
I love the colour of my wing! That's the most important thing, right?  :-) 
My first in-flight selfie!

Our final stop was Golden. We did just one flight at Mount 7 on Friday morning -- a 15 minute sled ride down to the landing zone but again, it was a really great flight. We purposely planned this for Friday as we thought it might be busy on the weekend and, sure enough, we learned there were approximately 20 student pilots expected, several tandem flights and of course many other visiting pilots. We just don't feel experienced enough yet to be in the air with too many other people.
Andrew getting ready for forward launch (almost no wind) at Mount 7.
Golden, BC.
There were a lot of these little guys in the landing zone.
Loving the air! (Photo by Andrew)
Me coming in for landing. Launch point is the peak on the left. (Photo by Andrew)
After this, the heat (high 30's) and holiday crowds, not to mention simply being very tired from travel and activities, made the decision to head home an easy one. We'll continue to keep an eye on wind conditions at home, get in more kiting practice and look forward to our next get-away!

Andrew is much better at doing blog posts on the road than I am. Here are several of his with more flying as well as some "down time" activities.

- Flying at Vernon
- Climbing, butterflies, flowers and birds at Skaha
- Okanagan rest day -- wineries, birds, coffee shops and more!
- Flying at Revelstoke and Golden

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