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Pine, NS Parking Lot, Tandem with Lynn
Pine, NS Parking Lot, Tandem with John
Our house guest from Boston, Lynn, had been in town since Monday. There hadn't been much sun and she was hoping to get some before she left on Sunday morning. I'd flown with Lynn on previous visits, including a flight from the Skyport back to Carpinteria. She was game to check out Pine and Pam gave her blessing.
Kristi & Brendan were camping on the ridge above the South Launch. They reported steady north wind otb with launchable cycles from the south. The lapse rate was better than average and the forecast called for L&V up to 10K with some south above. Any time you have robust vertical activity you can expect local horizontal movement. I thought it would block. It was standard up river at Cal Trans, but steady down river at the Sand Pile. Kristi launched from the SS about 11 and had and interesting flight. Hopefully, she'll give us a report.
All the indicators showed steady north, but not too strong. We weren't in a hurry, so we checked the south side anyway. It was launchable, but you could hear the wind in the trees and it was steady north on the ridge. Back to the Parking Lot.
Lynn & I got off on the second attempt. Pulled a good glide over to the spine and the first thermal went for 1,500 to 75. There was some north wind but not bad. The barometer was low and the mix of variables made for good NS conditions. We went uphill a couple of times, but Lynn started getting a little green. We opted for a top landing because it was the quickest way down. I tried the Parking Lot but it was too lifty. I went for the low spot in the road east of the parking lot because the upstream terrain seemed favorable. Good landing.
It took 4 or 5 attempts to get off with John. He worked good as a copilot, spotting wind in the brush, smooth and strong on the weight shift. Just the right weight for the conditions.
One of the great things about Pine is the variety. It's common to be south down low and north above, but Saturday was the opposite. I made a number of wrong moves, but was rewarded with some challenging connections. We were stuck a few hundred over launch on the first spine and went looking out front for a ticket. Not finding one, I tried to run back uphill in a down cycle and ended up in the hole. We got on the ridge across the low saddle about 50 over and connected up to 78. Tom had gotten over 8 so we opted for patience and headed up ridge to the third spine. We had to fall off to the front knob, and found a good one. It got better and topped about 98 over the south launch.
On our first trip to 78, our penetration was poor in the venturi over the ridge, but above 85 on top of the hill, we were out of the north wind. Above 9 we started picking up drift from the south. There were small clouds over Reyes Peak, and across 33 on Ortega Ridge. Sometimes I make decisions I regret about 30 seconds later. I wish I had gone along the ridge toward Reyes, but headed OTB instead. Out front, we seemed to have some drift from the SW, so I turned east along the ledges on the north side of the river. I was hoping to get to the hills above The Gorge, but hit some NW wind down lower and decided to try the other side of the river. Once across the river, the wind was light down river and we seemed to be on the wrong side of Ortega Ridge. We headed down the ridge hoping to get to Cal Trans, but got a bad glide and pressed into The George low. Somehow I managed to make all the wrong moves, avoid the thermals, and squander our surplus altitude (I could have been decisive, taken our 10K and just flown to one of the clouds).
We were down to about 300 agl and were trying to get into the gap by Ronnie's Rock so we could do a 180 back into the wind for a final approach to the road. The wind had been light, but as we approached the gap, we saw the trees were active. It took about 5 or 10 seconds to realize the wind was upriver from the SE. Our landing conditions look iffy as our initial plan of landing into the west wind was now looking like a bad option. We got on the windward SE face a couple hundred over the road to buy some time. We got plenty of time as we realized we could ridge up. We were concerned because we knew it was blowing from the NW above the hill and as we got near the top we were swept east out into the gap. We tried to run across the gap to the hill on the east side, but ran into the stiff SE wind down lower. We were on a plateau on the east side of the gap. We wanted to get back across to the other side, but were concerned if we tried to jump across back in the canyon, we might get rotored. We let the trimmers out to penetrate out of the canyon, and just before the mouth we went back to trim and fell off. We came in on the point just above the trees, maybe a hundred off the road. We hit the first couple of figure 8's pretty hard and climbed out of the hole.
We found west wind again as we cleared the top of the hill. This time we tried to look up canyon rather than across. We fell out of the thermal a few times on the downwind north leg, and kept extending upwind to the SE. The thermal seemed to be coming off the NE face and we finally centered up and climbed up the back side. It got snaky above the hill with some strong surges and an occasional tip fold, but it was manageable. We had to hold on and bite hard into the core, but I never felt like we were about to loose control. We topped about 6 and the wind above was from the west. We had some patience and worked smooth air right over the east end of The George. We kept extending the upwind leg, stepping up, and finally topped about 87.
We considered extending up Ortega Ridge toward some cumies that were a couple thousand higher. I thought we might have enough to get over the ridge into Ojai and took our altitude and fell off with 85. We went for the low gap east of Nordhoff Peak' and cleared the ridge with 500 to spare behind The Stooges. Ojai was socked in, but you could see part of The Stooges and cleared the front point with 3 or 400 over as we lost visual reference. We came out the bottom over Grand Avenue and the creek. It was questionable weather we could get to the golf course, so we took the downwind run to the field 1/4 mile east of Boccali's.
John called Susan, and she boosted us back to the High School.
Tom Pipkin had a great flight, becoming the only other paraglider pilot to fly from the Parking Lot as pilot in command. I guess it's a Tom launch. He climbed to 8 and went otb with a little push from Eddie. He hit the skip over The Gorge, but came up short, loaded light against the wind.
Kristi, Brendan, and Tom all had intimate encounters with the chaparral.