Friday, July 4th, 2003
to the Nut House, back to the Bluffs, and across to Santa Paula Ridge
Flush to Saint Thomas College
~ 2½ hours
Good to get out, and even better to be in the air. Caught a ride from Bob Hurlbett at the freeway. Met a bunch of pilots at Nordhoff, and needed to get 19 bodies up the hill, but only had 2 ground crew and one Suburban. We planned to send Edward back down from Chiefs to Rose Valley for the third truck boost, but they got the north wind report and went home.
It looked launchable at the first north launch, but pull up skill required was beyond most of the crew so we headed toward the Repeater. Stopped at Chiefs on the way. There were launchable cycles, but it was mostly blowing OTB. Seemed like the Repeater would work, but the velocity OTB was a bit too strong and gusty. Figured I could still get off at the first north launch, but when we got back to Chiefs it was cycling in. Taliban tested the air and everyone else bailed off. I was airborne about 1:30.
Not much wind, and a little drift from the north in a lot of places. Easy glide to Stooges from the middle bump with 48. Topped at 39 and went for Bruce's. No onshore wind, so I got there easy. Climbed back above 4 and stepped over to the front. There was light drift from the north above the ridge line, but below it was drawing light from the south, and there were hundreds of little convergence birds marking the upwelling. Not much need to get high, and a bit leery about potential sheer, so I dolphined over to the Nuthouse with a stop at Spine one to test for altitude (37). Rounded the turn point and headed east.
Back above 4 at the Pyramid. Chris Grantham was struggling below the west end of Nordhoff, and Tom Pipkin was bobbing along a bit above ridge line in the middle. I dolphined over to the Stooges. Came in a little low without a tailwind. Even with the lower bump and had to center up on a marginal core, but it was a nice smooth climb after the first few hundred feet. Repeat to 4K at Twin Peaks. Spotted about 5 big vultures (maybe condors?) a bit above. They headed up spine and disappeared, so I followed. Got to about 47 a bit down from the middle bump. Took it over to West Repeater and arrived with 35ish.
Topped about 44 and could have continued on for East Repeater, but it seemed to be working better further up hill, so I took little steps up the spine and got to 57 over the road cut. Seemed to be getting a little drift from the north and I was leery of potential sheer, so I didn't push up further. Starting to get a little drift from the west. Hadn't had any draw up the canyons all day, so I cut straight across for the spine that leads up to the base of the Bluffs from Boyd's. Came in about half way up with 46 and it was buoyant, so I turned up hill. Found boosters all the way and got to the base of the Bluffs.
The bushes were shaking, but not much drift. The scenery was stunning. I was on guard, but never hit anything nasty. Toured over to the middle, and climbed up the wall. Topped in the low 6s, and found a little north wind as expected. Opted to run back out, but not all the way. The conservative route would have been down to the high bump on top of Puckers, but I went left a the corner of the Bluffs. Without much canyon draw, I thought I'd try a scenic route deeper in Santa Paula canyon. Didn't find anything. There was a little canyon draw so a had to crab a bit and got to Santa Paula ridge a little low, but above ridge line (32 hundred).
The lack of wind let me get away with a deep route that didn't work, but it also meant no ridge lift on the windward side. If I'd taken a more conservative route and got there higher it may have worked, but I needed bigger thermals than the little pockets I was finding down lower. Flush to the college. Land on the grass about 4 pm. Pack up in the shade.
Got a quick ride up to the Summit. Called Chris Grantham for a boost because I was worried I might miss the fireworks (Sam had been anxiously awaiting them for weeks). Stopped by Sharon's party on the way. Carpooled to SB with the Reifs. The show was impressive, but short. Only 15 minutes. (lower budget than last year?).