Matt Terkiele and Ken Muscio met me in Stonyford for the ride up St. John. They were on their way back from Chelan and points north where the flying had been lousy, or so they said.
Pete, my trusty driver, was ready for a serious chase as he brought an overnight pack and a change of underwear. I guess he’s catching the spirit of things!!!
I launched first at 12:42 as the convergence started setting up and the cycles finally straightened out. I climbed to 9,300′ and headed for Crockett Peak to hook up with the convergence. I was down to 6,400 ft., 1 mile west of Crockett, before I got into the convergence and climbed to 11,000′. The sky to the north looked better than it had on Monday; there had been no clouds in this area then.
I made good time until the 20 mile mark, where the convergence line was broken. But then another formed on the back side of Hull. I got down to 5,100 ft. over Rocky Basin Ridge before I hooked into something that took me back to 12,000′.
Before I found that elevator, I was scratching low, 700 ft. below the ridge top. I could see a possible side hill landing spot at the bottom of the ridge, and there was also a road there. With an LZ within reach, I was free to patiently look for lift, and a low low save was my reward.
After getting high and back under the clouds, it was easy sailing to the Yolla Bolly Wilderness Area. The clouds made a northwest line from the Soloman Peak area, which I followed. I started wondering if it was over developing, or something, as there wasn’t much sun on the ground. I followed the darkest areas of clouds and found easy going, dolphin flying for miles, staying right near the cloudbase of 10,500 ft. I was looking at Ruth Resorvoir as I crossed Hwy. #36 near Forest Glen, heading north.
I crossed Hyampom Rd., east of Hyampom about 2miles, on a NW track. Pete was in Hayfork, having come up Hwy. #36 from the valley. I hadn’t studied the roads in this area so I had Pete look at the map for a way around the Trinity Alps on the west side. He said Hwy. #299 hooked up with Hwy. #96, which then headed north. As there were no clouds over the Trinitys, I decided not to brave the crossing. Instead, I followed the cloudstreet until it ended and I hit a forest fire. For a while, I was flying through smoke, watching helicopters drop water on the flames. I could see Hwy. #299, but it was in a deep gorge here so I shied away from it. Later, driving home after the retrieve, I was glad I had stayed away from the gorge, as it is highway, rocks and river most of the way back to Weaverville.
I landed on the South fork of the Trinity River, on South Fork Rd., about 3 miles south of Salyer on Hwy. #299. I got turned 90 degrees close to the ground and whacked hard, taking out a down tube and pushing my sunglasses into my forehead – a little blood but not bad.
Ken and Matt didn’t like the launch conditions when I took off, so I’m assuming they launched later and flew to Stonyford; their truck was gone when Pete and I rolled through town around 1AM.
The results for this flight:
Glider flown: Laminar MRX 700, a flex wing.
Time in the air: 7:12
Max Altitude: 12,900 ft.
Landing GPS Coordinates: N40deg. 51min. 36sec., W123deg. 34min. 59sec.
Distance traveled: 110.0 miles. A new St. John flex wing site record!
This record-breaking flight was the very next flight after my flight on 7/26 from St. John that set a new rigid wing site record. I flew the same route this time as I did then. This route is not for the faint of heart. There are areas of no LZ’s (no road next to your field), but there are places to land. It just may take you some time to hike out.
When I flew through the smoke from the fire, I was about 9,000′ MSL and the helicopters were at tree level, around 2,000′. The fire itself was 8 miles to my west so I don’t think I was in restricted air space.
I feel the route over the Trinitys will eventually give me a 200 mile flight, after a few more trips, and trusting the lift lines. I hope to make Grants Pass Oregon, or north of Medford, Oregon.
I’ve signed up at the local library so I’ll have internet access when I choose to come over here.