St John to Hwy 299

The St. John Record Encampment

Todd organized the SJ-RE. On Thursday, Matt, Todd, and Rich flew with Linda and Lori driving. I had to work on Thursday, so I was late getting into camp. On the drive up I could hear the action as Todd and Rich were passing the 70 mile mark. Matt was passing 50 miles. It was really exciting listing to all three of them as they continued on there record setting flights. Matt set a personal best close to 60 miles landing on highway 36 north of Red Bluff. Todd and Rich were in the air on what looked like a 100 mile flight. At 93 miles Todd realized that there were no more LZ’s and turned back to land at 90+ miles. Rich joined him a little latter.

Friday only Greg and I flew. Rich had gone home and Matt and Todd were going to rest up (Matt and Lori went fishing with Matt trying to swim and fish at the same time). Todd had to have a flat fixed so he offered to drive. Greg and I left the top around 10,000′. I found a convergence line and was able to glide to Red Mountain before I needed to turn. Greg had a little busier time with it and landed near Chrome. Todd picked him up and they both started to chase me. Since Todd needed to go to Red Bluff, I tried to fly in that direction to make the retrieve easier. The thermals were OK but got weaker and weaker as I headed north. I started jumping from one east-west road to another. I told Todd to head into Red Bluff and take 5 north. I thought I could make it on a glide. What I thought was 5 was in fact a railroad track. I was low and about 4 miles from 5. I managed to drift northeast and get over to 5. At the 68 mile mark I was too low to jump to another LZ and had to land. I was 68.9 miles from St. John. Todd was a little nervous until I landed.

On Saturday, John D and Charlie were in camp. Rich came back for the day. Linda, Nancy, Lori and Suzie were on the retrieve. Gregg, John then me launched, followed by Matt, then either Todd or Rich. I left first at 9,300′ with everyone else leaving later around 10,000′. I again found a convergence, but it only took me 10 miles, after that it was a struggle. I could hear everyone else behind me struggling as well. I arrived at Newville too low to cross the small ridge toward Paskenta. I started thinking about where I would land. I hit some week lift that I drifted in for 2 miles and gained 400′. This was just enough to make it over the small hills toward Paskenta.

Pilots behind me started landing. I was set up to land in the first field after crossing the small hills when I hit my first real thermal since leaving St. John. This is the same spot where I got my low save last year. I climbed to 5,000’+. From here on the thermals were pretty good, most of the time I could climb above 5,000′.

The night before Matt had got out his Delorme and found a promising route for a 100 mile flight. Todd had come up with a similar idea. The proposed route would cross south of the redding airport and head up a road that parallels highway 5 (Dechutes Road), from there it would hit 299. I was flying the same route that I flew the day before and passed the 68 mile mark at 4,000′. I headed up Dechutes road until I came to hwy 44. From hear I was at 82 miles. I could see 299 and the other road that Matt was talking about (Topo USA calls it Palo Cedro, it is the first road north of the 44 intersection). Now I was in a quandary. I was at 5,000′. I could either go for the coffee can and head north, or go for a 100 miler and go east. I chose the coffee can. I figured I could glide past the 90 mile mark with the south wind I was seeing.

I headed for the last possible LZ I could see on 299. I arrived over it at 4500′ (I found another thermal on the way). This LZ was at 92.3 miles. I went up the road to the 95 mile mark, but could not see any more LZ’s. I could see more LZ’s up Palo Cedro and I called Nancy and Lori to see if they could get from 299 back to Palo Cedro. My radio batter went dead. Rather than risk a longer retrieve than I was already on, I headed back to the LZ on 299. It took quite a bit of work to get down due to the thermals, so much so that I finally threw my drogue chute. As I got lower I saw my nice LZ had rocks in it that stuck up like tomb stones over 6′ high. I landed in the best spot I could find and it was still covered in rocks the size of bowling balls. I had a great landing. My flight time was 4 hours and 11 minutes.

Rich managed to get past Paskenta and found the better lift. He followed my line and landed at 68 miles on hwy 5. He or Linda can tell the story of the paramedics responding to his landing.

I felt bad for Lori. She was in the truck with Nancy and did not get to see Matt land and we did not get back to the top of the mountain until 11:00 pm. I am glad she was there because she kept Nancy focused. Nancy wanted to stop and look at every critter she passed. Lori kept her driving in my direction. She was also a great navigator.

Everyone headed home on Sunday, except for John and Charlie. They were going to try to fly. As we passed Williams, we heard that they were driving down. Charlie said the wind shifted from the West at launch so they bagged it.

So the stats for the ST-RE were Matt, 60 miles (+ Saturday) , Rich 90 miles and 68 miles. Todd 90 miles (29 miles on Saturday), Greg got three enjoyable flights. I think John got his best at St. John. Charlie had a nice flight. I got 68.9 miles and 92.3 miles. I am off to the Worlds in Chelan. I will be back in a couple of weeks.


Here’s theĀ Track log of Vince’s flight

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