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2 Flights and a couple of hikes
Pine SS to Guillmero's Meadow, 58
Hike uphill to a knob on the South Spine, 63½
Relaunch, climb to CB, Fifteen Three, hit east wind at Frazier, land in Lockwood
Hike 1 mile to the main road.
The Lapse rate was real good, eights and nines. The air was dry so CB would be high. The general pattern flow was trending monsoonal, but the SE was suppose to slacken for a day. It was light north lower on the ridge, and back and forth on the ridge above launch. We had a full boat up hill; Craig, Tom B, Benson, Bill B, Tony D, Ron F, Dan M, Dan K, Sharon, Aaron, Eddie, Benson, Tom T. Bill & Chris from San Luis showed up after I launched.
Ron was tech into a light cycle. He went for The Knob, but the light wind had some west in it so he was plugging upwind toward the lee side. He ended up a couple grand below launch (later drifted downwind into the E/W convergence and connected). I took off at 11:30 and went down wind toward the first spine to the left (generically preferable to pressing upwind toward the back of a spine). I broke even (plus or minus a hundred) for a few passes, but couldn't make it work. It started feeling a little lee side, so I headed out toward Pro Star Point, and hit a small week thermal right away on the first small spine to the left of launch. The mild lee side wiggle kept me on my toes, but the wind was light and once I was a few hundred over it merged into the convergence above the ridge line.
Took the first thermal straight up to 95. The upwind edge seemed to be the NE side, but the drift was negligible. I moved east along the ridge line toward Rayes and got to ten five. It felt like a SE seam so I fell over the back trying to get north of the east and started picking up some drift from the south behind Rayes. I cruised over to Ranch Peak back in The Chute and climbed from 8 back to 10 plus. The drift was mostly from the south with a little west. I moved over to the north side of Deep Peak hoping for another boost. I got a good glide but no joy. I then headed NE along the Back Rim of the Badlands, getting an ok glide, but below minimum go altitude. Not much drift, but some occasional headwind. I considered bridging off to the north along the seam of the east push toward Dry Canyon or the 50 / 50, but I quickly got too committed for that option. I then thought of heading further east for the trail coming in from the south end of Grade Valley, but that option faded as I got lower.
The glide deteriorated and I got on the speed bar. Guillermo Meadow was looking iffy but it was the only option. A mile short of the meadow I found some broken lift and climbed a few hundred, but it fell apart. At least I had the glide to the meadow. I got another one just short of the meadow, but didn't have anything to show after a half a dozen circles. I got to the meadow below the peak, and only had enough for one play. I could look over the flat, or run up the south spine. I opted for the high ground and tried the spine. I hit some bubbles, then encountered drift from NE, away from the peak, and back toward the meadow. I considered side hill landing, but figured I should try to hang. I fell back down the spine where I'd passed up some broken stuff, but couldn't make it work. I finally tried fishing out over the meadow, but was too low. Hung on for awhile with a couple of hundred foot gains, but finally fizzled and landed in the meadow. 5,800 feet. 12:45.
My plan was to hike up toward the peak and look for a launch. I also figured if I had to hike out, I might be able to get a better feel for the topography. I needed a thermal drawing toward the peak off the meadow from the SW. The wind was mostly from the east, but I figured Lockwood would heat up and draw the west in later in the afternoon. I heard Dan Keyser on the radio headed my way. I finally spotted a glider, but it was Brendan on a marginal glide for the meadow. He just squeaked in over the lip. Dan snuck by and landed half way up the hill from the meadow toward the top. I got a head start on the hike, but Brendan caught up an passed me in short order. We passed Dan about half way up, but he elected to head down hill.
The vertical was only about 550 feet, but we were in the heat of the day on one of the hottest days of the year at 6 grand. It took about an hour and a half to get up to a knob that looked reasonable. We scouted over the back and it looked like it might be the trail down to Pine Springs Campground. Brendan had his GPS with some maps loaded. We were a couple of knobs down from the top. My vario read 6,388 and the map puts the top at 6,569.
Toward the end, I could only do about 50 to 75 yards before diving for shade and letting my heart rate settle. It was good having Brendan along for insurance. He was strolling along stress free. I went through 2½ liters of water and a couple of power bars. I was felling a little chemically unbalanced and starting to cramp. I figured Dan would probably need rescue in the morning (he had almost a gallon of water).
The launch was a little scruffy with sharp rocks and brush. We were able to layout most of the wing, and Brendan fixed a streamer about 60 feet directly in front. We both sustained rips in our wings due to the sharp hazards. Waited over 5 minutes for the right cycle coming off the meadow. Launch was clean on the second or third pull up. A couple of figure eights marked the edges of the lift, and I was high enough to 360. The thermal tracked slowly up the spine toward the top of the hill with good trajectory, and kept getting better. I pulled out of the lift at 15 on the leading edge of a cloud. I didn't want to get so high that I would be above cloud base on course. I topped about fifteen three on the glide. I watched Brendan's shadow, but he wasn't climbing. I could see the trail coming off the back of the knob. It looked like an easy down hill to the campground. I tried to get Dan on the radio to give him an update, but no comeback. Eddie finally made contact and turned him around.
I took the trail over to Frazier Mountain, not bothering to stop for lift on the way. Ran into progressively stiffer headwind about a mile west of the towers and finally fell back toward the valley with about 85. It was stiff ENE on the deck. and I landed on the south side about a mile away from the road. This hike was easier, with the valley shaded in. Craig got Tony in the Antelope and they got me on the way back. Brendan hiked his gear down to the campground and returned to rescue Dan. We left with a full tank, but just squeaked back to Ojai on fumes.
All fourteen pilots launched, got up, and over the back.
It was a good day for altitude with high cloud base and convergence. The lift was reasonable and only pegging 1,500 per minute. The day didn't work good for long distance from Pine due to the stiff draw into Lockwood Valley from all directions and a SE wind at altitude.