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Nuthouse to Fillmore
Met Pipkin and Robb for the Nuthouse Saturday morning. We got there early, probably about 10:20. There were nice strong cycles on launch, vultures soaring, and bugs biting us, so it was hard not to launch right away.
Pipkin pulled up first at 11:00. He lost 200 feet as Robb was getting ready. But when it turned back on and Pipkin climbed above launch, Robb took off. Then they both sank as I set up. They were both doing a good job of hanging on, but they were steadily losing ground. Finally Pipkin decided to side-hill land and hike back up while he still had a chance. Robb continued to work with what he had, and he really made the most of it, but ultimately he ended up at the 33.
With Pipkin back on launch, I took off right about noon. I also had difficulty climbing out, but the conditions had improved. After numerous failed attempts to thermal out, I ended up using OJ’s method of ridge soaring the southerly bowl to a point where I could make the jump to Spine One.
Pipkin joined me at Spine One and Diablo pulled in on his Atos as well. That’s when it started getting really fun. We climbed up to about 47 and then jumped over to the Nordhoff Front Points. I stopped there to tank up and Pipkin pushed on to the Stooges. Nordhoff was working well and I got to 6200 so I could skip the Stooges and just pulled the glide to Twin Peaks. Thermalled there with Diablo for a little while, but I was getting cold and needed a break. Pipkin and I both dropped in for a top landing at Chiefs. We were flying without functioning radios so it was nice to be able to discuss the game plan while getting warmed up.
We didn’t have chase, and the 150 was closed by the college. Diablo had Eddie in Fillmore so if we could make it to the 126, and if we could call Eddie in time, we had a ride back. Pipkin confirmed that his wife could get us if we landed west of the roadblock, so we pretty much had our bases covered. “Isn’t it great when it all comes together?!” Pipkin said as he got off the phone with Debbie. “Yeah,” I replied, “now we just have to do the flying part.”
The wind had gotten stronger and it was a bit of a battle to get over to East Repeater. Climb rates were good though, and it was strong west at altitude. The best part of the flight was coming in low and committed at the Topa Topa bluffs and then hooking a boomer. We were flying in tight formation banked up and skying out right next to the bluffs. Every now and then, while I’m flying, I stop taking it all for granted and I am awed by how truly amazing the experience is. That was one of those times.
We topped out around 68 at the bluffs, and made the run for Fillmore. Surprisingly, we didn’t find anymore lift. We rounded the corner of Santa Paula ridge with 4200 and I felt sure the large, west facing, sun collecting, bowl at Santa Paula peak would be a great source of lift. But we got squat. We surfed the ridge lift, doing about 35 miles an hour, with barely a turn, all the way into Fillmore.
Had a vertical flight path on final, and landed next to a thousand barking dogs. Despite the ruckus, the landowners didn’t come out to talk to us. We packed up and hiked about 10 minutes to Telephone road. 10 more minutes and Eddie and Tony stopped to pick us up. Cold beers to celebrate and I was home before 4 pm.
It wasn’t the longest flight in the world, but I got my adventure fix, and had a great time.
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