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9/22/2001, Saturday,
The Equinox

Kagel to Azusa
31 miles, 3:45 airtime (slow?)

Ron Weiner reported 55 on Friday, but the word at the LZ was more like 45.  Today's lapse rate was average.  The visibility was not crystal, but reasonably clear for September Sylmar (you could see downtown LA).  The temp was forecasted to get into the low 90s and the spread to 6K was in the low to mid 20s.  The thermals had the typical Sylmar edges, but the wind was light so there weren't too many nasty surprises.  The lighter east wind made the upwind push around Lukens doable.  Top altitudes were mostly in the mid 4s, and I got to 5 once.

The Sylmar crew is a bit slow to get going.  The 11:15 meet turned into a 12:15 roll, and it was cycling up pretty strong for my 12:55 launch.  Weiner & Cutter gave me a big head start and never closed the gap.  Perhaps the HGs are just overmatched by the advantages of a PG on the low light wind days.  They have an obvious speed and glide advantage on the upwind legs, but the PG can come in low and tight, with better performance in the small sharp cores and boundary layer convection .  I suspect the biggest obstacle for the HGs is the LZ anxiety thing, getting around Lukens and over to Mt. Wilson.  I'm sure that with an extra thousand or two, they'll leave me in the dust against the east wind.  For the PG, I think the east wind factor is more important than altitude.

Got to 45 in the first thermal and was on course.  A little low crossing the first couple of washes, down in the mid 2s.  I held the high ground as much a possible, and did a lot of zig zaging.  When I couldn't hold a high line, I'd have to come in low and work up the spines.  I had a couple of critical connections, and was down to my last point once or twice.  The east wind wasn't too bad.  I parked out in a few strong draws, but mostly didn't have more than 5 mph sustained headwind.

I took a deeper and shorter line crossing Hwy 2 than last time.  Climbed up 100 over the first round knob that's a bit out in front of the back ridge, and dove over the back. Committed for a low face below the main ridge.  Struggled in the boundary layer convection and finally got up to ridge line.  Above the ridge the thermal was good and strong, but was sucking toward the canyon , a lot like the Nut House.  I pressed up wind to get away form the gap, and the east headwind finally started turning to a west tailwind approaching the front spine of Mt. Wilson.  I wanted to climb over the peak (57), but the day was already starting to fade and the best I could do was 49.  I left eastbound with 45.

I kept making the connections, but the top altitudes were getting lower and lower.  I left on my glide across the San Gabriel Canyon with 35, and came in on the other side with only 17.  Was able to pick up a hundred, but it was to week.  I searched a ways downwind to the east, but once around a low corner I realize it was probably final glide.  I didn't have chase, so I doubled back upwind toward Hwy 39.  Had a good landing @ 4:40 on the street in a residential neighborhood (1555 N Hilltop Drive).  The kids came over and were pretty jazzed.  Packed up on someone's front lawn.

Thumbed to the freeway, and finally got Ron on the phone.  He had Mike Ballard for crew, but hadn't sent him on course because they threw in the towel at Lukens.  Ron dispatched Mike and he got me back to my car in good time.

Diablo reported good PG conditions at Pine.  Very little wind, with convergence coming up both sides.  He got to 92 with his Atos.

Craig reported a good day at Plowshares.  The Convergence came through and they got to 10,500 at McPherson, but ran into the typical NE and decked it on Foothill Road.