Saturday, 30 July 2016

Flying Revelstoke

On our way home from Chilliwack, we stopped in Revelstoke for the night and hoped to finish off the road trip with one last flight. Despite afternoon and evening thunderstorms and rain showers, the mornings were reasonably clear and calm.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort has the highest vertical of any ski resort in North America and, fortunately, is one of the few ski resorts that allows paragliding.

There were way more pilots around than usual; many of them making a stop on their way home from the annual Willi XC Challenge held in Golden. In other words, pilots with far and away more experience that we have! It was a bit intimidating to say the least.

The launch area was gorgeously covered with wildflowers. But it meant uneven terrain and I stepped in a couple holes just getting my wing laid out. My nervousness (between the crowd of other pilots and the rough ground) meant it took me a second try to get a good launch but once in the air it was pretty smooth sailing. There wasn't much for thermals and even the pilots who were fully geared up for some cross-country flights landed not long after I did.
Beautiful wildflowers cover the launch area.
Joining the queue at launch.
Mt. Begbie on the other side of the valley.
Looking down valley (south) from Revelstoke.
Looking up valley towards the airport runway and the city of Revelstoke. 
There are a couple gliders in this photo but they are all but impossible to see!
There is one glider in this photo and it is much easier to see than those in the photo above.
There was virtually no wind in the LZ and what wind there was, seemed to be coming in sideways from the river rather than up or down the valley. I saw the pilot in the above photo landing far short of the LZ and thought he might end up in the marshy area but it looked like he at least landed on dry ground. 

After several passes over the LZ and much indecision, trying to figure out what the wind sock was doing, I chose a direction and landed just a few feet long and into the uncut grass. I was very annoyed with myself as I had lots of time to plan it out, if only I'd made a decision sooner! 

I didn't feel quite so bad after watching others though. Everyone was having a tough time deciding which direction to land and out of about a dozen pilots who landed while Andrew and I were still there, only two of them (locals) actually landed in the mowed area of the LZ. 

Andrew coming in to the LZ. Clouds starting to pile up!

Andrew landed about the same place I did, just a few feet into the longer grass. Unfortunately, he fell forward after he landed and tweaked his thumb back. However, by the time we got home the next afternoon it was swollen and quite sore. He self-diagnosed, like everyone does, by googling it! After a visit to a medi-clinic, diagnosis was confirmed as a chipped bone on his thumb (known as skier's thumb) but more worrisome was possible ligament damage. The surgeon he was referred to determined that surgery was not necessary but a cast and a few weeks recovery time is what the immediate future holds.

Humorously, this is the exact same injury I had about 30 years ago when I fell skiing and ended with my hand in a cast!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Flying Chilliwack

It was a last-minute trip, even though we knew it was coming. The new car finally arrived in Vancouver. Let's go! We booked the train, packed our paragliders and away we went. 
View from launch on Mt. Woodside near Chilliwack, BC
The train is always enjoyable and relaxing. This is the first time we've taken the train during the busy high-season months but, other than being a very long train, it didn't seem to make a lot of difference. They had extra staff, dining and observation cars so that it wasn't overly crowded. The "Artists on Board" program always showcases some great Canadian talent and the couple (Tiger Moon) from Kelowna who played guitar and mandolin were no exception. 
The train always stops for a while at Jasper which gives a chance to get out and wander for a while, grab a coffee and enjoy the view of Mt. Edith Cavell (when the clouds allow it).
We went straight from the train station to pick up the new car. I'm so glad we waited the extra time to get the "absolutely red" colour! We got in a couple quick visits -- lunch with my niece, Julie, and coffee with Andrew's friends, Larry & Angela, before heading to Chilliwack.
The new design of the Prius gives it a more sporty look than the one we had the past 10 years.
The weather was very good for flying the entire week but the winds were mostly quite calm (with a too windy period in the afternoons) and the daily inversion layer blocked the thermals from going very high. So while we got lots of flights, we didn't get any really long ones. Andrew managed 35 minutes on one flight but most were around 15 minutes.

Our first day there (Sunday) was extremely busy with students from at least a couple different schools and some independent instructors. We caught rides up to launch with Jim at FlyBC.

We sat back and let the students go first. Watching and listening to some of the instructors made us even more thankful that we had such great instruction from Chris at Fly Above All when we first started, and from Nick at Paracrane who recently gave us some more advanced instruction. Both are extremely patient and are positive in their criticism when you screw up (which happens often when learning to paraglide!!)

Even a year and a half later, I still screw up on occasion but flying at Woodside was a confidence booster.  All my launches and landings were pretty good. Even the landing where I had to dodge a couple hay bales still sitting on one edge of the LZ  wasn't disastrous.

We'll definitely come back and fly here again . . . for the amazing scenery if nothing else!
The colourful lineup.
Mount Baker is the snow-capped peak in the distance.

Bob, the handsome calico cat, likes paragliders too!
I strive to be as good a pilot as "Teddy." :-) 

Andrew in flight.
"Para-waiting" for the afternoon wind to calm down!

My pretty wing!
Andrew coming in for landing.
Spot on!
We might have enjoyed a local cider or two . . .   :-)