Idaho? Part 2
By Peter Kelly
This is a continuation of the story.
- Yes – the start and the first leg were mostly routine.
- No – it didn’t seem dangerous in the least
- No – the weather was not as it was forecasted to be.
This Chapter (Two) begins with the tow release over Tree Farm, continues to the turnpoint at T-15, then takes you lower and lower as we proceed past Weaverville at an altitude of less than 8,000 feet (while flying in a blue sky). There was only a single need for a Plan B, as I always had a myriad of options available to me – until I was near Weaverville. A Plan B is something you must have, that is clearly an executable option that will allow you to safely land or continue the flight in some other direction.
After crossing past Weaverville, I managed to ascend the Trinity Alps, proceed east past Mount Shasta and then further east past Medicine Lake, which was the location of the First decision point.
Shortly thereafter, the Second decision point was reached. From there on, it was a matter of reading conditions and plotting the best course that would take me home.
Chapter One ended with this image: 10:40 AM Off tow and into lift in less than two minutes
The Vertical velocity on the right side of this next graphic shows descent after release from tow and then the start of the turn into the thermal. The glider is in a turn, with heading passing through the north. This image corresponds to the preceding photo.
After having the good fortune of quickly finding the first thermal of the day in a blue sky, up to 8,000 feet I headed northward.
In the next photo you can see Snow Mountain just a few miles ahead. There had been a cu over the top just a few minutes ago, but it’s gone at the moment. There will be lift there. The clouds always cycle – especially when there is very little surface wind.
Note the big cu about 20 miles away, at the north end of Hull Mtn, and a see few distant cu over Black Butte 27 miles away. This graphic illustrates my position at 10:52 AM as shown in the above photo.
Routinely, we usually proceed north and stay over the crest of the Mendocino Mountains, but with the air mass already proven to be unstable, there should be good lift along this route as I head towards that good looking cloud to the NW.
After getting a climb near Snow Mtn I headed for the north end of Hull Mtn, cruising at 10,000 ft. A quick six minutes later, at 1110 AM, I was approaching the biggest cloud in the sky.
This photo was taken at 11:10 AM.
Nice lift under that big one ahead, but did you notice the cu to the right over Black Butte ( my next stop) and the dots of clouds in the distance? My proposed route is over to Yolla Peak and then northward. So far this is an easy day!
As I approach the Black Butte cloud from the south, it looks good. As it turned out, I didn’t stop and climb, since I didn’t hit the thermal below the cloud. There were plenty of clouds on course, straight ahead…
It’s been an hour and a half since the start of the flight and I am now near Yolla Peak ( Mt Linn) and heading north west at 11:50 AM Altitude is 11,500 ft.
Plenty of clouds, but not shaped particularly well, but at least there were clouds. Glad to see the forecast was not a complete miss (at least not in this area).
However, as you can see in the above photo, just 10 miles to the north, near T15, the clouds quit and all you can see is a grey haze in the distance.
I left the T-15 turnpoint at 10,400 feet and headed into the abyss – a blue hole of mega proportions.
Was this a good idea, really? I had over 10,000 feet, but there were no clouds for the next 50 miles for sure. The visibility was poor due to the humidity in the air, but if we had just a bit of surface wind, the thermals would kick off and we would see the clouds that had been in the forecast. Besides, I had options. I could always turn back, or continue on and land at Hayfork, or turn eastward and land at Redding or Benton, etc.. Lots of options, so northward I went – ever the optimist.
The next target is Hay Peak – there is usually lift here. If not, I might be able to limp back to the south, or go to one of the airports – Benton, Redding, or Hayfork Airport.
As it happened, there was very little lift over Hay Peak and certainly no clouds, as you can see in these photos:
Best to head to the east northeast. Closer to Benton for landing, but there is often lift near the Buckhorn Turnpoint – less than 20 miles ahead.
By 12:39 I was feeling better, since I had a nice climb to 10,000 ft prior to Buckhorn Pk.. But, I had lost at least 30 or 40 minutes getting to this point, having now been in the air over two hours, and only 100 miles from the gliderport at Williams. Weaverville is a landable airport, so I’ll head north and look for lift over the next 15 or 20 miles.
As I pass Weaverville, at 12:44 PM, I get a good look at the runway:
I can see good visibility and a few puffy white cumulus clouds at the north end of these Trinity Alps. I just need to work the lift on the sides of these hills and make my way to those clouds.
The next Chapter (Three) will show you the majestic scenery of the the Trinity Alps and Mt Shasta.