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6/9/2001, Saturday

Kagel to Rising Hill Road (2 hours, 15 miles)

Tony & I picked up Edward before 9 and got to Pine early trying to beat the wind.  Edward had a printout and the current forecast was not a promising as the night before.  Pine was solid North Side.  We went as high as the trees and turned around.  Tony wanted to fly so we took Lockwood to 5 and down to Sylmar.

Gil loaded his truck and I was off about 1:30.  A backward launch with one wing tucked followed by a couple of mild wingovers just for fun.  I looked down the spine and found a thermal with a good climb to the top of the haze in the mid 4s (my launch altimeter said 36 and I later learned it's about 35).  Back to 43 over Trash and off the end of the ridge with 32 for the glide across the wash (Little Tugunga).  Gone in the haze before the next pilot got off.

Toppin on course in the mid 4s with a max of 48.  Probably could'a got a little higher over the peaks, but the top of the haze was a limitation and it wasn't worth going deep for a couple hundred more feet.  The second wash (Big Tugunga) was a bigger jump, but I left with more altitude.  I had a little west across the first wash, but I was running into an east wind down low across Big T.  Below Lukens, I had a couple of low saves back in canyons without obvious LZs .

Topped in the upper 4s over the White Tepee (east end of Lukens Ridge).  I was above the lower east wind and considered turning around, but I had west wind across Little Tugunga and didn't think I could get back.  Eddie had the viz so I went for the low shallow spines across the next wash (Arroyo).  The glide started out pretty good, but I hit the lower headwind from the east and had to get on the speed bar.  I skipped the first couple of spines and stretched to a face that had a spine above it that connected to the mountain.  The first coupe of spines didn't offer a route uphill.  I could'a gone deep, but retrieval looked iffy, next time I will.

I got to the face and gained 50 feet on the first pass.  I thought I had it made, but after my 180 the bushes stopped shaking.  I sunk and had to fall off and run out.  The canyon was blocked by ominous looking high voltage lines (three sets of towers running together).  I could'a run for the low spot in the middle of the canyon, but if I couldn't clear them I'd have to land in the trees.  I opted to go down the shallow spine hoping for a pop to get me over the towers.    I figured if I couldn't clear the towers I could land in a back yard clearing behind them.  I didn't find a bounce.  I was starting to get into a residential area and there were lots of other poles as well as the high voltage stuff.  I went up to the towers and turned left out into the canyon hoping to get enough clearance on the down wire run to dive across the lines, but they were too wide (pretty easy choice, always better to have a miserable dig out of the brush than burn in the wires).

I turned back but was too low for the back yard.  I made a few passes wedged between a house on the ridge and the wires, hanging on and hoping for a lucky bubble.  There was another back yard on the other side of the wires.  If I could squeeze under them I might have enough altitude to stay out of the canyon.  I committed to the approach and headed down wire into the canyon.   I was getting too far out and wasn't low enough to get under, so I pulled big ears, turned in, and angled back up the lines for clearance.  I was able to squeeze under, but grazed the top of an oak tree coming out the other side.  I needed to pendulum up to get over the tree and was low energy on the other side.  My target  was ahead on a flat spot.  If I came up short I'd be down on the side of the canyon in the tall brush.  I eased up and traded altitude for speed, rounded out the bottom of the pendulum, was coming in a dozen feet below the lip, and followed through on the up side of the pendulum with a flare that dropped me right in the back yard.

I asked the neighbors where I was.  Edward found it on the map and navigated right to me.  2 grand.

Fun flight.  Sylmar is usually a bit punchy, but the wind wasn't too bad.  Had I connected on the last face, I would have made it around Wilson easily .  I think it's common to get higher and if you make it to Wilson, you get out of the east and pick up a west.  I'll make a couple more trips this summer and try to connect the dots to Crestline.

Back at the LZ, Joe counseled me that you usually need to dive in deep across the Arroyo Wash, and will consistently connect.  Kind'a like crossing 33 over to the Nut House I guess.