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John Scott (aka South Side)
Black Hawk Eastbound past Twenty Nine Palms
~ 67 miles (~ 41 LFSD points)
currently good enough for first place
~ 3 ½ hours airtime
After getting everyone excited with last Sunday's mid-week forecast I hesitant doing the same for this past Saturday. But, starting Tuesday all of the forecasting models were indicating that the desert had some potential for Saturday. Depending on the model, the predicted tops were in the 10-12k range with cloudbase being about the same. And for the most part, the models stayed consistent all the way into Friday night.
Blackhawk was the call. Diablo grabbed Eddy and headed out there on Friday afternoon. I'd meet them along with Herb Seidenberg in the morning. However, Saturday morning's forecast for Daggett had gone to pot overnight. RUC, the only model that updates so early was calling for 7k tops, not much higher than launch. Discouraged, I then checked Twenty Nine Palms's forecast. It was still saying 10-12. Apparently, the models do take convergences into account.
It was supposed to be WNW in the desert so at breakfast we decided that Ord might be a good call. We headed over there but because of the early morning south wind we decided to go farther east to Blackhawk to get away from any marine air that might seep in through the Cajon Pass.
It was blowing NW when we got to launch sometime before ten. About 11:00 clouds began forming over Big Bear. Tony launched first. He got up OK, but nothing spectacular. He worked some scraps on the next spine to the east, but when that didn't work headed out into the valley. Once out in the valley he was able to connect with something that gave Herb enough encouragement to suit up. Since I'm on a Fusion I was hoping for a little more omph.
Herb launched and climbed out nicely to just over 8k. I followed soon after just before noon. Definitely west. Climbed to the mid 7s as I drifted across the SE launch to the next spine. Tony and Herb seemed to be bopping down range ahead of me between 6 and 8k. However, after leaving launch I managed to get down to 4500 ft before blundering into something. Once I got established I also got into that 6-8k range. For the next 10 miles or so at least.
About 22 mile mark the convergence clouds started bridging out into the valley. When I first got under them I didn't really find anything. But there was a hawk circling below me so I decided to hang out a bit and search around. Zero sink eventually turned into something with a little more meat. The next thing I know I'm climbing through 11k and following the street, which, unfortunately, was heading toward restricted airspace. From 11,400 I had to angle off toward Copper mountain near Joshua tree. Reached Copper with 7500. Connected with something that got me back to the mid 8s and went with it towards Twenty Nine Palms. I really wanted 50 miles and I wasn't going to get it unless I found one more thermal. Luckily I found a fatty just above town at about 44 mile mark. Climbed to just under 11k and then went on a 23 mile glide, landing at around 3:30 and 66.79 miles from launch. Not bad for early March.
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