Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breaking Free!

I've gone and done it. I've gone and flown x-c and now want more, more, more!

Thursday afternoon we went to Bridal launch, hoping to scratch around the hill for an hour or so. Conditions seemed light and only one pilot was in the air. We took off anyway and found the one thermal working near launch (yay!) so we topped up to get high and go somewhere. Derek got up first and waited patiently for Martin & I so we could fly east together to Gloria (a small peak about 6 km from launch). When we finally groveled our way up, Martin & Derek went for it while I hung back hoping for one more thermal. I caught one (yay again!) & headed x-c while the boys came back, too low to make the trip. Crap! I'd been hoping to follow someone my first time over and all the help I got was Derek telling me on the radio that he'd found nothing but sink where I was headed. But Lady Luck (who, BTW, abandoned me in Las Vegas earlier) showed up and placed some happy little thermals along my path. So I tagged Gloria, hollered a little & flew back all by myself. It was amazing.

Two days later we're back at Bridal, although by now everyone had heard it was ON so launch was crowded. That same thermal was waiting so with my new-found confidence I hooked it and pushed east to see what the other end of this range looked like. At the 2nd ridge east of launch I was about to radio Derek to come over & show me where to fly when I saw him following one ridge behind. Due to my lack of patience and his desire to be as high as possible I still ended up leading about 90% of the time.

What a gorgeous, adrenaline-filled flight this was! I learned so much, like that the hunger for a thermal when there's no LZ beneath you is so different than the hunt for some lift when you're just bobbing around launch. We got beamed up in a mean, scary thermal that made my vario squeal and was pushing & tugging & trying to kick me out the whole time. From there it was an easy glide to Ludwig at the end of the range.

Of course as soon as I tagged it & turned around all I could think about was how bad I had to pee. It was 11 km's to the LZ so depending how often I had to slow down to thermal it could be a while until I'd be able to do anything about it! I kept my mind on making it back & waving at the 2 or 3 other pilots who were also flying towards Ludwig. A thermal took me in close to the hill and overtop of a beautiful waterfall, whose soothing sounds did NOT help the bathroom situation AT ALL.

But I made it...a 23 km out-and-return flight! Some nice congrats from other pilots on leading out (and amazement from one pilot who couldn't believe I'd done it on my 2nd x-c flight ever!)made the day even sweeter. There were fist-bumps all around (yeah, I'm trying to establish the fist-bump in Canada, heh heh) and adrenaline coursing through my blood for 3 hours after. Just when I thought I'd come down off my high I'd notice that my body was still twitching (seriously) and the words coming out of my mouth were still speeding out of control.

And I thought I was addicted to paragliding before...

p.s. Thanks to Karin for driving me to the nearest washrooms as soon as I landed.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring is springy

Ah...spring. The first thermals hit and...boing...up you go! And just like a bouncy spring...thwang...down you go! It's been an interesting start to the season. I planned to out-fly everyone since I'd stayed current by getting in my sledders during the winter. Reality? Slightly different. Pilots standing on launch, nervous because they haven't even touched their wing since the fall, take off & fly x-c their first day out as I watch from the LZ of shame. WTF?

Ok, it only happened once or twice. The last time it happened though I actually threw a tantrum. A 5-year-old-denied-their-favourite-sugary-treat-type tantrum. I was close to tears as pilots were gushing to each other all around the LZ about their epic valley crossings. Luckily a calm, calm pilot began talking very gently and put everything in perspective. The details of his speech aren't necessary, let's just say the outcome was that I calmed down immediately and decided to stop being so emotionally invested in my flying.

The revelation came a bit too late though as my tantrum was fodder for some "good-natured" teasing during para-waiting moments over the next week. Ha ha, very funny everybody. :)

And even though I am not emotionally invested in my flying anymore (well, to the point of tantrums at least), I'm excited to report that my subsequent flight to the one the sink monster claimed victory to was a personal best. I flew home! Not a long flight (it was just over 8km) but it was my first time committing to the task & making it. Check one resolution off my new years list!

So...yeah...flying still makes me super-duper excited. The lessons learned this year are the basic life lessons we are presented with time and again - don't compare yourself to others, focus on your accomplishments and not your failures, always do your best. Still, it's so much easier to abide by those words after a good flight than after a bomb out!