Soaring Clinic, Summer '01
I'm still scratching my head over this trip. Did I really just return from 10 days of ridge soaring in a
row? Is it really possible to go on a flying trip and not have even one single bad weather day where you
couldn't fly? Did I really walk away from a flying day and go for a hike because I was too tired to fly
eleven days in a row?
Flying in Colorado this year has been like a Charles Dickens novel, ("Please Sir, can I have some more?")
This trip was unbelievable. It came on every day, day after day.
Here's the story.
truly great paragliding trip should begin with a long bit a travel.
This is the time of penance, of purging. It is the deprivation that
will sharpen the edges when contrasted to the liberation of flying.
I am well into that depravation now. It's the second day on the
road. Nine hundred miles of wind noise and heat have slipped by
my windshield. Most of the tapes have already been listened to,
the book on tape has become nothing more than than a droning voice.
The most accessible conversational gambits have been explored and
exhausted. One would be confined to the stables of ones own thought
where, monotony usually drives it's stock, if not for the scenery.
It is a big world. I find the it's grandeur will penetrate any mood.
Here on the road, the world is pulled free of it's solidity and
poured over me as I drive. Horizon to horizon to horizon.
Time to make peace with the inner voice as the miles drift by.
had spent a rainy night on mount Tam. I found out my tent was not
properly seam sealed and bailed to sleep the van. The next morning
the fog pealed back slowly, revealing the coast. We had our first
flights that afternoon. Eugene was the first to hook up with us,
followed by Greg the next day and Jon after that. The new guys were
a little hesitant to launch off the cliff. However, once you realize
that it doesn't matter what the ground does when you're flying,
everyone relaxed. We started with warm up sleds to the beach. The
new guys could practice following the terrain to stay in the lift
band. Soon folks were having their first ridge soaring flights.
Thom Switzer, of Skytimes Paragliding, let us crash at his place.
It's a long drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Thom's, but the
unbelievable scenery made it more than worth while. Saturday night
we did the now traditional dinner at the "Blue Heron". The Blue
Heron is a great restaurant in an old house in the tiny town of
Bolinas. We crowded into the corner room with Thom and Greg from
Skytimes. Sunday was more flying. Greg and Eugene got in more soaring
and their first taste of flying in traffic.
got a short tandem flight with Greg of Skytimes. Alas, it was light
and they sunk out to the beach. Sunday night we headed down to Carmel
to hook up with Bobbie and CJ. We said goodbye to Thom and the locals
and started the drive.
Our second site of the trip was in Sand city. I had flown this site years before, however with the low performing
gliders of the past it had to be blowing snot to soar. Last year at Thanksgiving I flew it again. With the Effect it
was easy to fly it at 10 mph! The site has a perfect sandy launch with a small ridge, great for learning ridge soaring.
I thought to myself, "What a perfect place to teach a ridge soaring clinic." After warming up the students on the small
ridge, there is an additional 5 miles of soarable ridge! Bobbie and CJ started their warm up flights. Jon had a little
head start by coming early and worked on his ground handling. Greg and Eugene were starting to get their groove going.
Eugene had his day of glory flying well over 45 minutes.
Tuesday it blew hard in the afternoon but not before getting a
little flying in. I flew a good three mile to the north in very
cross and difficult conditions. Soon the flying became easy though
and it took a bit before I realized that it had gotten quite strong.
It's cool to be high out over the ocean.
bailed on the windy mid day conditions and went to the Monterey
Aquarium. After checking out the gigantic tank full of tuna, shark
and sea turtles, we headed back to the site for some evening flying.
Wednesday was the 4th. Jon got in a great soaring flight. CJ's first soaring opportunity was a little crowded, but
he handled it well. Bobbie got it a few passes in front of launch. Carl and Joe appeared from the far north end of the
ridge today. They had flown 6 miles to join us at the south end.
We stayed on the beach for the the fireworks. We sent out a few folks for supplies, (like a cooler full a beer and
food) and waited for the sun to set and the fireworks to begin.
Thursday we headed to the other ridge. This is the long part of
the ridge, over five miles long with a few gaps thrown in for a
challenge. Greg and Eugene were going for the air pig award. They
were flying a few miles out before returning. CJ was now up to speed
and cruising the ridge. He had the advantage of being big and could
fly when it got stronger. Jon got grounded earlier, but not before
getting a great flight on the big ridge. This was Greg and Jon's
Finally on Friday the clinic put in it's last hour of flying. Bobbie wrapped it up with a perfect flight. Eugene and
CJ cruised up and down the ridge for a good hour. We actually walked away from good flying. We were just too pooped.
clinic was over but then what happen? The long rumored arrival of
Perry and Joanne! Joanne and I flew Saturday. I flew the entire
ridge, all six miles. I had wanted to do the whole ridge but there
are a few big gaps in it and didn't want to sink out miles away
when I was teaching. Today I wasn't acting as the "Instructor" So
I waved to Joanne to come join me and off we went. I made it but
Joanne sunk out trying cross the largest gap at the far end. I flew
over head while she climbed up and re-launched. After making it
back to launch, we landed, as it was really strong and went to go
find the rest of the group.
And Sunday we rested. I just couldn't fly any more. We went hiking in Point Lobos. We saw seals, deer and herons, a
we're done yet? No, on Monday Kristi showed up, and I had to fly
one more day. All in all an unbelievable trip. Lots of flying lots
of fun. And we didn't even get stiffed buying gas! Stayed under
$2 the whole trip. (Remember that energy "crisis" we had?)