Today at Baldy and points East I was reminded or maybe taught where Eastern Washington thermal flying meets the question: "Are We Having Fun Yet?"
Paul my firefighter friend gave me a couple of hours and got me to launch about 2:00.
Cycles felt just right - light southerly mixed to 12 at peak. No question there was lift but no developing cumulus.
Launch and low lift were normal with fairly sharp edges to a small but strong house thermal. Action to 300 over was typical for a hot active day. Once over the towers life became more interesting. - The north and south flows converged at about 500 over and climb rate went to 5-7m/s. No worries but focus was needed to keep smooth in a bit of rocking and rolling.
At about 6,800 it became even more interesting. - The inversion layer had broken down but the top was still near. Twitchy air became violent, this twitch had real power from the 93 degree desert floor.
As you move round a strong Baldy Bullet it has always seemed safer and more stable to try to stay toward the center. Not today, today the center was too strong and crazy. To take on that buzzard was to subject oneself to 40 percenters, 180's, tossing back and forth with no right side pressure at all or was it left - anyway -, so the best bet was to stay on the outer edges and milk it, hoping you didn't fall back into the fire.
This might be fun if you pay for it at a theme park but - man - get me out of here.
On to exit 11 with my tail between my legs and plenty of lift with a bit more sanity on top along the way.
Caught good lift and a bit of crazy at the transition off Menastash to over 8,300. Again at the top it was leave or heave.
Nice glide to the Boylstons and the tit worked fine until about 5,500 and again all H... broke loose. Right, left, up down - where did that come from let me out and only 5,500. A bit of searching found a couple of better formed flows but still not to high and at this point I was totally gun shy.
I got to Rygras with 1,500 to 2,000 so I hoped maybe things would get better but - NO WAY. -
This is not fun and not getting high to boot just made the call all the easier. WE LAND right here, right now.
LOL - more of this on the way down but lots of room so the LZ was just fine and the landing soft but what a work out for a 16mile XC.
Are we having fun yet?