This is a hard report to write. I had a very short flight due to my laziness. Rich and I set off for Elk, with 3 paraglider pilots along for the ride with Linda driving and Rich's sister along to see what insanity Rich was up to. We were running about an hour late. We got to launch at 11:30. The cycles were coming in the south launch, but it looked like it might change to the north. Just about the time we finished setting up Rich said he heard a ripper coming up the north side. The cycles were still coming up the south side, so I held up hope. The hike to the north launch is a pain.
All three paraglider pilots launched and had only short sledders to the LZ. This should have been warning enough for me. Rich was saying we might want to hike down to the north launch. Being lazy, I figured I could still get off the south launch and using my superior skill and glider performance, I could easily glide around to the north side and get up, saving myself a hike.
Click here for the launch video. I increased the resolution of the video from last week to 640x480 and to 30 frames per second.
Rich was behind me and shot the sequence of pictures above while I launched. I had a nice launch, right into lift, as you can see, I climbed right back up to launch height. Unfortunately, I flew right out the other side, being too close to the hill to attempt a 360. Oh well, I figured I could make a run for the north side. The sink was 300 to 600 fpm down, definitely lee side today. By the time I got to the end of the ridge I was too low to make it around to the north side. I searched for lift all the way to the LZ. The best I could do was zero sink. All three paraglider pilots had landed safely and had not reported any major problems in the LZ. There were enough motorcycles riding around kicking up dust that I could see the wind directions. I say wind directions because it was coming from two different directions. The Elk LZ is in the intersection of three canyons. Sometimes the wind was from the east canyon, and other times it was from the north canyon.
The arrow points to the LZ.
That's not too bad as you can split the difference on your approach and turn into the best direction on final. I made an uneventful approach with some S turns just before final to loose altitude. The wind was about 5 out of the east. The last 50' or so the wind died and I dropped pretty good. I fared hard and took two steps and set the base tube down. My stall alarm never went off and I basically had zero time in ground effect. I just came down at one angle and flared. Another extra second or two and it would have been a major whack.
Click here for the landing video. In the video, some of those darker bushes are 10' tall. Just before landing you can see I fly over a 5' tall metal post with a sign on it. I was hoping to be able to land in the clear area to the left of my eventual landing spot. The trick for that one is it is surrounded by a wooden rail fence. If you under or over shoot, it is not pretty. The wind was not favoring that spot this time.
After I launched and had that sinking feeling, I radioed to Rich that he should hike to the north launch. He did and was rewarded with a great flight. He was able to climb to 6,100' and easily fly over to his house. There were CU's forming over there and I'm sure he could have flown much longer if he wanted to. At least he was able to get some more pictures.
Potter Valley which is to the north west of Elk.
Another picture of Potter valley taken from Mid Mountain (a little further west than the previous picture).
This is looking toward Pillsbury lake and Hull mountain, taken from about 5,000'.
The south end of Bachelor Valley, with a nice little CU.
Here is my very short IGC file.
All picture copywrite, Rich Sauer.