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I usually listen to talking books while driving down the road. Friday I was headed to Dunlap for the first XC weekend of the 2010 season when my Dean Koonts novel had just come to a rather creepy termination. I fired up the Sirius receiver & tuned in some Classic Rock. Soon Bob Segar was singing a medley from a live performance in 1972. I have to admit, that guy had some serious talent. Something about the tune really haunted me & I found myself humming the tune all weekend long.
So anyway, I arrived in the Dunlap valley at 2pm and was hoping for a ride to launch for a quick flight before making camp. I headed for Dan's to see if I could swing a ride up the hill. I talked briefly with Greg, found that I was the only pilot going up, and soon was riding with a gal named Day to launch. When I got to launch I ran into Tim & Scott. I gave them a bit of local beta and set up to fly.
The lift was a bit 'edgy' but went to cloudbase at 6000'. I boated around on the Boom 5, enjoying the opportunity to fly high enough to experiment. This was also my first flight of any duration on the new harness (a WV X-Rated 5) so I was able to make some adjustments and figure out how to make this harness a part of my "XC System."
Tim & Scott soon launched and we all ended up at Dan's and, later, shared some beers and burgers at a local Dunlap dive. Thanks for the beer guys!
Saturday I woke, after a great night's sleep in my pop-up, and headed down to the valley floor to meet the crew. There were quite a few pilots from all over - Reno, SoCal, Sac, SF, Santa Cruz, Tahoe, etc. We had at least 25 - a great turnout! I had 4 mentees in attendance; Dudi, Stephan, Brad, and Aaron. We all headed up the hill knowing that the day looked a bit weak and inverted. We did quite a bit of site intro for the new pilots and worked with our mentees a bit. I figured we would need to do most of our work after the task was called. We built a rather short (34km) task, that had more than one crux. as it crossed the valley four times. Given the low climbs of 4500-5000', there were many opportunities to dirt early in the task.
I got myself stuck at the ridge for a bit and worked slowly (cautiously) along the ridge, lower than I like. My goal was to get to the house thermals in front of launch. I don't like flying low like this with my limited experience on the Boom 5, but it was this kind of day -
I caught a nice 4-500'/min. thermal in front of launch and soon rejoined my high aspect ratio buds. We all headed across to Granny's Knob together and found a sweet thermal that gave us (almost) enough altitude to get across to the main ridge again. Josh and I headed out together and I aimed for a rock face that I hoped would provide some heat. Josh got there with about 400' more than I and had an easier go of it, but I was able to get up, in time. My thermalling still isn't as accurate or comfortable as it was on the Avax XC2 - maybe due to the much heavier brake pressure, maybe due to lack of familiarity. At this point Josh took off and hit 49917, DNLCH and went on glide for goal. I hit 49917 & DNLCH but couldn't get high enough to head out on final glide, so I headed back up to 49917 for some additional altitude. This cost quite a bit of time, but by now I realized that the task was over for all but Josh & me. Unfortunately I couldn't get high enough to get a 'glide-to-goal' of less than 14:1. I searched in vain & watched as the CirroStratus slowly shut the day off. Finally I decided to head for RNGSTN with the intention of scoring a bit of lift at the knob between Turkey and the ranger station. The prevailing wind would provide drift towards goal as I surfed the cow farts, so there was some hope. . .
I hit the RNGSTN turnpoint with exactly 1000 meters of altitude (about 400meters AGL) and a glide req'd to goal of 20:1. No bumps were felt all the way to the ground. I landed in the Turkey farm relics, a little over a mile from goal..
Josh made goal and Susan did a great job, making it to the ranger station. It was definitely a day that required an awareness of pacing to match the conditions.
and flying a prescribed task. Much of the initial (steep) learning curve is spent learning this pacing aspect of flying a task, and planning tactics to get around the course. Watching more adept pilots is very helpful in both of these skills.
Because the first task was found by most to be a tough one, and because Sunday's forecast was very similar, we decided a "Do-Over" task would be valuable. The same task was called with a bigger radius at RNGSTN. In reality, the day turned out to be very weak, and we weren't getting the climbs we got the day before. I tried a hail-mary from Granny's Knob back to the main ridge and found only teaser-lift. I dragged much of the lead gaggle with me & we all ended our day at the St. Nicolas Ranch LZ.
Results are HERE, and my flights are HERE.
I feel the weekend was a great shake-out for all the guys with new equipment & wings, and a great intro to the comp format for the new guys and gals. Next time it will be less intimidating and they will have a feel for the pacing of the day and the flight.
I feel the traces they've left on my soul
Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul-