Chief's Peak to East Divide
To Shiells Park in Fillmore
15 + 29 ~ 44 miles
4 hours airtime
Plus a sweet flight at Bates on my old Edel Rainbow
Went oh for zero in March, so it was good to be heading uphill for a day out. Tom P's truck got us to Chief's about noonish. Tom P, Tom T, Tom ?, Kristy, Brendan, Konner, Chris Grantham, & Sharon. First day of Daylight Time. Recreational launch timing about ten past noon. Fun to pull up and walk off. Took the glide to the spine below the turn in the road, and hooked a thermal up to 6K. Westbound.
Got back above 5 at Nordhoff, and the high 4s on Spine One. Had been planning to turn at the Nut House, but I had the numbers to try across the river. Came in ok on Bump 1 with 29, but proceeded to sink out and had to hang on to 26. Finally got up to 3K and wiggled over to Bump 2 and then 3.
Experienced some pretty sharp spankage above Bump 3. The drift actually seemed to be from the SE rather than the west, so I blew off the nasty air and headed up hill with only 4K. The back ridge was working ok so I was able to work up to the Back Step using ridge technique. Only getting a hundred over the ridge, but I kept going because it was working on the ridge line. Couldn't get up from below the High Step, but opted to play on counting on the back ridge. Still seemed to be downwind. Took a run at the saddle behind White Ledge and cleared it with 20 feet.
Down in the low 4s below the back ridge. No way out but up. Scratched along and found a thermal off the spine in the middle of the canyon. Got back to 5ish and tried for East Divide along the back ridge, but East Divide was in the shade. Came in on the east side a few hundred below the top, hoping to ride up the ridge convection like I'd been doing, but without any sun, the ridge convection was nowhere to be found. Gave up early and played south trying to get around the front, but started picking up some drift from the west. Lee side below the spine in the shade trying to get around... not a promising combination. Cleared the first flute and turned west uphill, nothing but lee side sink. Might have been able to try further down the spine toward the saddle behind Chismahoo which had some sun, but it was questionable if I could get there, and even if I did, I don't like being low the saddle needing to get up or land out. Opted to go downwind for a low intercept of the mid canyon spine which was in the sun. It had worked on the way over up higher.
Struggled back up from down low. Was looking at a dismal hike if I couldn't connect. Finally got back to 45ish and went for the glide around White Ledge. Did ok with a few extenders, but didn't climb out at White Ledge. Got up good on the ridge leading down to Taft's Valley. Glide to the Nut House and drive up from a few hundred over launch. 4K at Spine One. Skipped Nordhoff (didn't like the air). Needed to climb at Stooges, but still left a little low because I didn't like the air there either.
Only got to 4K at Twin Peaks, so opted to bench up the spine. Left a little over 5K from the middle bump, drifting from the west.
The audio on my vario quit and couldn't get it back. Didn't thermal well the rest of the day. I was a bit disappointed at how dependant I was on the audio. Spent a lot of time looking at the display rather than looking around.
Took a route across the front of the Repeater and finally to East Repeater. Gained some behind East Repeater, but my thermally was poor. Boyd's had a strong thermal also, but I kept falling out the back. Seemed to be more wind, and I was almost parking out on the upwind leg. Kept extending the upwind, but kept falling out the back. Finally opted to head on with a little under 4K. Off the east side of Puckers with 31. Got back into the high 3s half way across. Came in on Santa Paula ridge ok in the high 2s.
Took a couple of tries to work up to the top. Probably should have been easier, but I felt I was not working the lift well without my audio. Finally got to 45ish, but couldn't hold the high ridge toward the peak and had to fall off around the front. Cleared the landfill ok and stretched the downwind glide into Fillmore. Got to the first park across the river with a few hundred to spare and opted to drop anchor. A little breezy, but I could still penetrate without speed bar. The field is surrounded by trees, so I took a pretty good drop the last 15 feet. The park was filled with birthday parties and the kids swarmed. 4:10 pm.
Sharon was on chase and got there as I was starting to pack up. She didn't fly because one of her lines was frayed.
Had more big canopy trouble close in than I can remember. Probably took half dozen big collapses within 150 feet of the terrain, half of those were inside 100 feet, and 3 or 4 were some form of full stall with the canopy falling behind and wadding up. A couple came back straight, but a couple didn't. Definitely getting a lot of practice with the rhythm of my canopy, and have confidence in my intuitive reaction, but am a disturbed I may be rolling the dice. The last one was along the face of the Santa Paula Mountains. Lost it all, full stall laid out wadded up, about 75 agl on the upwind side of a spine pointed mostly away from the hill, but the canopy did a 180 on recovery and was surging right at the hill with minimal room to spare. The day was sharp and punchy, but not sure if it's directly related to the weather or maybe my canopy is more prone to trouble due to it's age and porosity.
Took a look at Bates on the way in. Weak, but enough. We were talking about getting Sharon's glider out to check her bad line when a pilot showed up and started to lay out. Turned out to be one of Doc's students on my old Edel Rainbow (still in excellent condition at 11 years old). Andy was gracious enough to let me take his bird for spin. Was sweet cruising close to the ridge in butter smooth air after the punchy stuff earlier in the day. Andy Martinez and his father in law Detlef also flew, followed by Sharon. Everyone got in multiple passes before slipping too low in the weak lift. Nice way to wrap up the day.