At the recommendation of one of the pilots on our SIV course and a connection to a local pilot/instructor able to give us a site briefing, we headed to Dunlap for some mountain flying. Camping at the landing zone and a guy who lives there willing to drive people up to launch for $5 a trip, made it an excellent next stop on our paragliding adventures.
|There were about four people with wings the same or similar colors to mine. This was not me!|
|Landing zone is the large clear area beside the pond above my left knee.|
(One of only a couple photos I took while in the air!)
It has a nice launch area, a big landing zone, and you can see one from the other. Which usually means it’s a good site even for relative beginners. But this is a P3 (intermediate) rated site. So it’s not for relative beginners unless under supervision of an instructor. It didn’t take us long to figure out why. Every flight was a bumpy ride! Andrew is better at flying thermals than I am to begin with and his “bump tolerance” is higher. I was quite happy to land after ½ hr or so but Andrew’s flights were mostly over an hour and he even got lots of height on the very last flight and did a bit of cross country, heading out over the valley, catching some thermals off a peak on the other side and getting back with enough altitude to glide back to the LZ.
|New paragliding friend, Jan, doing some wingovers before landing.|
|New paragliding friend, Robin, soaring with a turkey vulture.|
We did two flights each on Saturday and Sunday and one on Monday morning. The first three flights, there were about a dozen other pilots who’d come out from San Francisco for the weekend. It’s always interesting to see the range of characters, personalities and experience levels. Paragliding is a small community in North America and we always meet people who somehow have connections to other people we know. For example, Robin (in the above photo) took her P3 and P4 certification from Chris at Fly Above All Paragliding in Santa Barbara who was our first instructor, took an SIV course from Dilan at Let Fly Paragliding (same as we just did last week) and there are close to a dozen other people we know in common.
|Andrew approaching the LZ in beautiful early evening light.|
The Sunday evening flight (just the two of us flying) was a bit windier than the previous flights but Andrew’s wind meter indicated it was still well within our capabilities. I thought I launched during a good cycle but immediately got yanked off to the side and was headed straight for a tree. I pulled a hard right, narrowly missed it and was able to keep things under control to get away from the ridge. Whew! Andrew’s launch was better but he still got yanked straight up and flew backwards for a few seconds before turning around.
We were very happy with five mountain flights in three days and by the time we left I was pretty exhausted. Paragliding doesn’t seem like it should be that tiring but it is!
The trees around the LZ provided some interesting photography subjects while I waited for Andrew to land. Using one of his good cameras with big zoom lens, I got a few decent shots of these Acorn woodpeckers. The pond was home to turtles sunning themselves on logs and frogs splashing into the water when we got too close.