Life on the Road, Part 2 – Idaho and Utah

On the road to Boise

On the road to Boise

Ok, so I’m already in Massachusetts; I arrived May 2nd. But before I get ahead of myself, there was a long drive in between San Francisco and here.

I planned to stop by the site called Slide near Reno before heading further east, however I chose instead to visit my brother in Boise. Tough choices we pilots have to make. It was a beautiful drive nonetheless, and it was great seeing him.

Point of the Mountain Paragliders

Point of the Mountain’s Gaggle Galore

After a night in Boise, I headed out to Point of the Mountain, Utah. Excited to arrive before sunset, a splattering of airborne paragliders greeted me along with weening conditions. This would not be my chance to fly. Sadly, I think that meant my streak of great flying ended…or did it? The next day Felix and I headed out to fly a place called Inspo or Inspiration Point (though not the one in Bryce). Wow! Inspo! What an amazing and beautiful site. The mountains rise up behind launch and snow capped peaks greet you in every direction. Intimidating in ways, but beckoning me to soar.

The mountains tower above Inspo

The mountains tower above Inspo

Arriving at launch, the wind was stronger than expected, but the cloudbase was tauntingly high and Felix was still optimistic that we’d XC to the point, indicated by the many hand warmers that we broke open. With our gliders preflighted, and hand warmers tucked cozily in our bar  mits, it was time to go. There was quite a crowd gathered to watch us too. See how wonderful our sport is?!

I launched first, and with the wind was able to ridge soar easily and climb a few hundred above launch. Back and forth, back and forth, waiting for a good thermal to blow through. Eventually I caught one decent enough to circle in and climbed a few hundred feet more before either losing it or it dissolving in the wind. The thermals that I encountered were small and disjointed, and very frustrating to deal with. And don’t get me started on the sink. Felix launched a few minutes after me, with the help of some bystanders—the wind had picked up and he had a no-stepper launch.

In the air he found the air difficult too. I slowly began to sink out and head toward the LZ. Slowly Felix did too. Far out front I finally found bits of lift and climbed a little, but again the thermals were not easily cored. A couple times I thought the sink would get the better of me and force me to the bailout LZ. Felix finally caught something decent and climbed out. As I headed to the primary LZ—overcoming the sink, yay!—I watched Felix sky out. Go Felix! A few burbles on the way to land but nothing significant. I guess no XC for me, but one of the best LZs ever with a huge expanse of green, fluffy grass.

On the ground I broke down alone hoping Felix was off to the Point. As I zipped up the bag, unbelievably I spotted him over the LZ. What? Why? He’s supposed to be at 14,000+ feet and on glide. After landing he said the thermal took him to 9,000 or so but then broke up and the strong sink got the better of him too. Oh well. All in all, a great day, but not the flights we were hoping for.

The following day I hoped to try the Point again, but the conditions were weak. What kind of “most flyable site” is this? Maybe my streak really had ended. So I take off for Colorado and leave Utah for another day.

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