Tom Truax aka Sundowner / SD

Monday, 9/6/04, Labor Day
Chiefs Peak to Ramero Saddle
back to Castle Point and out to land in
the backyard of an estate on Toro Canyon Road
~ 2 hours & 24 miles
Tandem with Sharon

Didn't expect to go flying, but the potential on paper looked better than Sunday.  Expected everyone to show up the day after as usual and didn't want to miss it.  I didn't dare to ask, but Pam claimed I was making her feel guilty just talking about it.  Bob Hurlbett was stopping by to pickup my truck, so when everyone showed up, Pam said to just go ahead and fly. :)!

Scrambled to collect my gear and got to NHS about 10 minutes late.  Quick load and we were on launch about 10:45.  Three trucks & crew; Edward in Topa chase, Emily in Eagle Paragliding's red truck, and Brian driving Chad's SUV.

Lot's of pilots in que, suited up in the heat .  We were about 4th in line.  Edward said it was too strong.  I said lets go anyway, and made like a rookie flopping around.  Took three tries to get off.  Easy glide over to the point.  Drift from the SW on the initial climb.  Topped out at 76 drifting from the NE at altitude.  Several pilots were already at Nordhoff.  A couple were stuck low, and Bob Hurlbett was climbing to 7+ over the tower.  Pulled a good line and got to the tower with 500 over.

Climbed to 68.  Drift from the SW down lower, but NE up above.  OK glide across 33 to Bump 2.  Some wind from the SW down on the bumps.  Picked up a couple hundred and reached across for Bump 3.  Got there low, but above the SE front point.  Bumpy climb up and more bumps on top.  Like to have 45 before pushing uphill to the back ridge, but got tired of the bumps and went with 42.

The back ridge worked ok and we wiggled up ridge.  Finally got a thermal a little before the Back Step and climbed above 5K.  Continued along the ridge to the High Step and stopped for a hundred or two.  Went for the Saddle behind White Ledge.  It was converging and going off, but was mister toads wild ride.  We wanted the altitude and hung on.  The lift got more organized above and we topped over 6K.  Back into the mid 6s over East Repeater in an organized thermal.  It wanted to drift over the back and we didn't, so we stepped out front and fell right with a light tail wind at altitude.

Nada at West Divide or Noon.  Got to the Power Lines against a light west wind below ridge line and had to swing out to get around.  Down to 35ish over on the west side and finally found an organized thermal that got us back to 45.  Last decent climb of the day.  If I had a crystal ball or some reports from down range I might have turned back, but no comeback on 25.  Kept dribbling along, but the lift got weaker as we got lower and further west.  Got to the west end of Castle Ridge at Ramero Saddle, but couldn't hold altitude, and didn't have enough to cross against the light headwind.

Fell out to Castle Point One and then back over to Castle Point, getting there below the swimming pool.  Nada.  Left in the high teens for landing somewhere south.  Got a buoyant glide over Shotgun Field and kept reaching.  Cleared the Warren's old house with a couple hundred.  Looking at a dirt field in the flat, hoping for another glide extender that might get us to the Polo Fields, but it was light from the SE on the front side of Polo Ridge so the Polo Fields we definitely not reachable.  There was a green grassy back yard behind an Estate on the west side of Toro Canyon Road, but it was questionable if it was reachable.  Liking green grass better than scruffy dirt, we faded right and reached.  Got a little buoyant patch that gave us 75' to spare.

Did a little zig behind the NW corner and dropped in running SE against the light flow.  Came in through the sprinklers and found a dry patch between the trees for a slide in landing next to the swing set.  2:15.  Tried to be quiet packing up, and no one came out.  The property had a large wall on the road side, but we found a low spot that was only about 6 feet high.  As a lucky bonus, there was an old wooden step ladder laying next to the wall so we put it to good use.

Hiked to the bus stop on Camino Real about 400 yards down hill.  Caught a ride from a surfer who dropped us in Carpinteria.  Took the seaside shuttle to my house.  Didn't have quarters, but Jim let us slide on the fare with a promise to double pay next time.

The days temperature didn't reach the forecast, and the middle graph for the afternoon VGB balloon tells the story, better lapse above 5K.

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