Friday, 19 August 2016

Hiking, Bushwhacking and Strolling in Montana

The day after the paragliding maneuvers course we had a couple hours in the morning to go for a hike  at Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks, MT. Both the park and the city so named because the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers come together here to form the Missouri River.

Beautiful scenery and definitely nothing strenuous about the hiking!

The next day we started in the direction of home but did some internet searches to see what we could find in the way of hiking trails along the way. Kings Hill Pass trail seemed reasonable . . . difficulty rating was "hard" but it was a loop trail and 7.5 miles would make a pleasant half day. Andrew downloaded the trail map from which we've had good luck with in the past.

Several hours later of up and downhill bushwhacking and following very old and overgrown logging trails we'd gone about 6 miles and our route was some vague resemblance of loop back to the car. I'm not convinced there's an actual trail here other than the old logging roads!
Following an old logging road.
Bush whacking.
We were "up there" somewhere before bushwhacking our way back down to the valley and creek.
The following morning, we took a stroll in Riverside Park in Great Falls to get at least a little bit of exercise before seriously hitting the road for home. The "river trail" in Great Falls is almost within arm's reach of the waters' edge and a main road on either side. The park, while beautiful, is on the other side of the road. I know I'm biased but, once again, I'm so thankful for the Meewasin Valley Authority and the foresight that City Councils of years gone by had in protecting Saskatoon's riverbank from development.
This rock wall and arch was built circa 1932. The log cabin in the background was the first permanent structure built in Great Falls in 1884 and this is its third location. 

Beautiful stained glass.
A lovely home for ducks, geese and swans. 
The old and beautifully restored railway station, with its distinctive tower, sits at one end of the park.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Paragliding Maneuvers Course - Montana

SIV is the acronym for Simulation d'Incident en Vol (French for Simulated Incident in Flight). In other words, making the wing do things that, for the most part, you really don't want it to do! Things like asymmetric and frontal collapses and full stalls or, things that some people do want it to do like B-line stalls, wingovers, spirals or acrobatic maneuvers.

It's all done over water so that if things go crazier than you want them to, you land in water rather than go splat on the ground. Thankfully, I didn't land in the water but one of the acro pilots, after being unable to get out of a riser twist, threw his reserve, landed in the water and had to be picked up by the boat. Scary! Albeit a bit shaken up, he was thankfully okay. Unfortunately, Andrew and I weren't there to witness it.

Bozeman Paragliding was about the closest location we could find to home and had a course happening on dates that worked around other things we had on the calendar. Sadly, Andrew's hand is still in a splint after falling forward after a landing on our last trip but he came to watch and provide moral support while I took the course. I only scared the crap out of myself a couple times and those times will be obvious when I finish editing some video I took in flight. Thankfully, instructor Andy Macrae has a calm and encouraging voice!
Asymmetric collapse with speed bar.
The course was held at Canyon Ferry Reservoir which was pretty much a perfect location! Everyone in the course stayed at Hellgate Campground and then we took the boat over to a nearby bay that provided an area where launches could be done from a couple different places depending on wind direction and where we had a nice large landing zone completely to ourselves. And even on a busy hot Saturday afternoon, dealing with other boat traffic on the lake was manageable.
Launch area. So thankful of the shade canopy! 
Bill, an experienced pilot, was ground crew the first couple days and helped everyone get hooked in properly and provided some additional instruction.
I was glad we'd done a day of towing in Oregon in the spring so this was one less thing I had to be stressed about.
Being towed by the boat.

This is what the wing is supposed to look like.
This is what the wing is not supposed to look like!

Frontal collapse.

Working on wingovers. Not sure I quite got it but at least I was getting my turns and weight shift a little better.
Nice large landing area. Just one barbed wire fence that was easily avoidable.
Whew! Landed on the ground!
One of my fellow students was a crazy man!
Less experience than Andrew and I but doing several full stalls and spins with full stalls on the second day. No fear!
On my last flight I took time to take a couple photos. Interesting crop circles on the right. 
View to the north end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Our launch/landing area just out of the photo at bottom right.
Throughout the 3-day course I did asymmetric and frontal collapses with speed bar, B-line stalls, spin appreciation (full brake on one side), spirals, something that may have resembled a wingover (I had a difficult time doing the significant weight shift required) and practiced doing tighter turns. I didn't quite get up the nerve to do a full stall. Maybe next time.

This was a great course and definitely made me feel more confident in what both the wing and I can do. Hopefully this translates to flying over land as well as it did to flying over water! Regardless, we'll continue to do maneuvers courses and improve our abilities and confidence.

Thanks so much to instructor Andy Macrae, Bill Bredehoft and John for extra instruction on the ground and making sure we were hooked up properly, Jesse for driving the boat, all my fellow students for making it such an enjoyable course and to Andrew for all the great photos of me in the air. Until next time!
Gorgeous evening sunset view from our campsite.