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Saturday, 10/26/2013 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] by [Brendan] [Aaron] [Sundowner] [Southside] [Dave Teal] [Ken Howells]
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Posted by Pegg_Brendan » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:05 am
Andy and I hiked the Nuthouse Saturday. I had been in Las Vegas for the last three days and definitely felt like I owed myself a good hike to repent. The air was still a little cool when we met at 10:30, and there were no bugs at all. I can remember a time when the hike would have been almost pleasant, but those times seem to have passed me by. The hike was brutal. My full kit, with heavy pod harness, and ballast, is just too much for me. By the time I reached launch I was promising myself to never haul that pig up there again, Vegas or no Vegas. I need a lighter setup.
The cycles were a little light so we opted to wait for a bit. Nice getting caught up with Andy, I hadn't seen him in over 6 months. About 30 minutes into our chat, a crow thermalled up from just above the road, he hit all the same spots we like to go to. He ridge soared with figure eights, then banked up into 360s when he hit the house thermal. And then traversed the ridgeline over to Spine One. All the while crowing little noises that sounded just like, "c'mon, c'mon!" I was grinning with the feeling of a kindred spirit, but Andy was being a little conservative. "I would be more inspired if it was a vulture" he muttered.
We waited a little longer. The cycles had some good peaks, but there were also some long lulls. I began thinking about just flying down and trying to appreciate the day for the exercise. We talked about how we would likely have to work pretty hard to reach the ridge, but hoped it would be easier once we got up there.
Andy spread out first at 1230, but he still didn't like the feel of it. He waited in full dress for about 20 minutes before pulling up in something that still wasn't much. I spread out as soon as his feet left the ground. I didn't wait for a choice cycle, but he was at the ridgeline before I got airborne.
Usually, even on good days, I have to really work my way up to the ridge. Sometimes, when it is scary-strong, I get ripped up there faster than I would like, but it has never been smooth and easy. At least not until yesterday. It felt like flying the Grade. I was in lift the whole time, but I didn't get rocked at all. Just smooth, fat, lift that varied from 200-600 up. I left for Spine One even with the ridgeline, but could have gotten higher if I wanted to. I doubled back a couple times on the way over, just because the lift was so good. Tanked up a little at Spine One, arrived above the pyramid and tanked up to about 5K there.
Andy was charging Eastbound ahead of me. For a change, I was being patient. I was staying in thermals longer than I had to. I wasn't focusing on a goal. I guess I was pretty much in the moment the whole time, and it was really nice. Not once did I get nervous about not making a connection, or of landing out.
Bruce's was producing well as usual, so I topped out there and made the glide easily over to Chief's Spine intersecting just above Twin Peaks. I did notice that I had a 2-4 mph headwind on the way over, and I sort of doubted that I would be going to Fillmore, . . . but maybe.
Andy was a little low at West Repeater while I rode the escalator up to the hairpin and then began a nice strong climb. The lift stayed smooth and fat the whole time until I passed 6K. Then I got pushed around a little by stronger east winds. Nothing scary, but my instrument was ready 12 mph out of the east and it was enough to rule out heading to Fillmore.
At about 67 I radioed to Andy that I was heading back West. I already had the high school easily made on glide, but I considered landing by my truck at the Nuthouse just to save the retrieve. A few minutes later Andy radioed that he was at 74 at the Repeater and getting pushed too hard by the East, so he was turning back too.
Instead of taking the straight line to the high school, I took a slight detour over the normal points and unnecessarily filled up the tank again at the Pyramid. Then headed out and toured around town a bit before landing by the Church. Andy came in a minute or two later and while we packed up in the shade we both expressed how nice the day had turned out, despite all our thoughts to the contrary.
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