Linda Salamone's Blog

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26 2007
Mark’s daughter is wrapping up her 2nd year at Vassar, so a trip to the Catskills to pick her up means stopping by Ellenville a day earlier to fly. The forecast was pretty great so we headed out early, and with my back aching the whole trip down, we got there around noon. A couple of Motrins later, we set up on top. There is always a huge cast of characters around there and the regulars were in full bloom. Al Ahl’s wife, Micki, gave Emily a ride down bottom (WITH Meesha!) so I didn’t have to worry much about her finding someone to keep her occupied (Emily, that is).
It was solid overcast, with some cu’s below the scuzz. But the lift looked pretty good while we were setting up- then of course it deteriorated when we were ready to launch. A few pilots that had been high were now just a few hundred over, and the ones who just launched were scratching a bit. When it started to improve, I watched Dean launch his Millennium and got up next. My run was wimpy, I popped the nose some, and wound up skimming the launch wondering if I should start running again. I had to straddle a rock near the middle of the slot! The glider was flying, however, so I flew it on out to the sound of a collective gasp on launch. In this case, I do think it looked a bit worse than it was, but I really need to be more aggressive when conditions look easy.
Anyhow, I shoved my feet into my harness- the CG-1000- and immediately got my foot wedged past the stirrup. I’m trying to fly the glider and extract my one foot so I can try again to get the stirrup. It’s wedged tight since I have all the bags stuffed and I am so unused to this harness. I finally free it and get them both in right, and get back to the business of scratching to get up. I try over the road, and just maintain, then Mark calls me on the radio to say some birds are by launch. I head back and wind up climbing up nice to the west of launch. Some other pilots join me and I am up 2K over pretty quick. I tried a few times to zip up, but now my two pull cords (‘open’ and ‘close’) are completely tied into a knot. On the Matrix, they are on opposite sides so even if a return bungie breaks, and the cords dangle, they can’t get entangled. It’s a two-hand job to untie these now, and I am trying to climb, so it takes some time. And I have an Atos or two thermalling with me, so I need to pick my timing. Finally I free it and go to zip up. No go. I’ve been flying for 15 minutes or so, and I can already tell that if I don’t get into my harness properly, my back will split in two pretty soon. Now I see that the stopper knot that I have tied into the pull is through the grommet – on the wrong side of it- and I am pretty exasperated at this point. I really just want to fly. Another two-hand job to yank it through and finally- FINALLY- I am zipped in and concentrating on flying. I did actually pre-flight this harness, and I was aware only of the return bungie being broken, but the things that confounded me in flight were all because of that broken bungie and my ham fisted attempts to zip in at first. Oh well!
Okay, so now around 3K over and that seems like the top of the lift, but I see an Atos higher and I go further behind the mountain to catch up. Okay so 3700’ is the top. I’m a little cold up there but it’s great to be at Ellenville and high instead of at Ellenville and at the vet and sledding. Mark has launched and I can see him near launch, and there are gliders all over. I get a good look around and pick some rigids that look like they are going somewhere and I follow. I catch up with Marcelo in the valley and he climbs through me like I’m in sink! The three gliders I’m with are going west, to some airport (Wurtsboro), and I’m game. It’s easy to get there, over a forest, and a sailplane joins me. Then I see the Millenium come back, and Marcello, and Dave, and we’re all together, but I am getting battered by a thermal. Mark calls and asks what I am getting for windspeed then, and I look and it is 16mph. Much higher than it had been and now I know why it’s a little rough and broken. But that doesn’t last long- it goes back to 6 and 7mph (mine reads a little low) and I decide to head back while I can. It’s a harder go than I thought and I express my concern on the radio. Dave calls back and encourages me to relax, and it works. I inch my way back to Ellenville, and the others decide to hit a point on Rte 17 so I am alone. There are a lot of TREES in the Catskills! And not too many places to land. Compared to Arizona…. But it really wasn’t all that difficult, I was just being a weenie, but I really didn’t want to land out since we had a UHAUL to pick up later. Back near launch and it is better here. I watch Dave come back pretty low, but he is on a rigid, and probably higher than he looks. Now the two of us head to the north, and we get up really high first and glide over the big plateau and thermal right over the lake up there. It is so cool to go this far- I have never explored much of Ellenville- it’s usually just sink rate wars in wonderwinds, so this is neat. I am getting the tour, and my guide Dave is over the prison but I don’t dare to go that far, so I settle for the other airport near Ellenville, and I see Marcelo again skimming under me, headed to the prison. Mark is on the ground now and my back is breaking so I head back to the LZ valley and boat around. I take one more climb up to 4100’ over the launch, and work on getting down. Mark wants to fly again so I will get the UHAUL, but it takes a big effort to find sink. 15 minutes later I’m on the ground and my back hurts so much I can barely land, much less carry the glider. Mark takes it from me, I get my ibuprofen, and we get him back on top. Different cast of characters up there now- hang gliding is not dead- they are all just at Ellenville, NY! The sky is littered with gliders, the launch is littered with gliders, and the LZ is littered with gliders. Never mind that everywhere you drive in town, there are gliders on cars. Mark sets up and has a sweet launch. I watch him fly a while and head down to break down. Andi flew her sweet little Sport2 and there were even a few other women flying later. Very cool. What a great weekend to go pick Laura up from school!
Airtime: 2:45
Max A2: 4085’
Plus a little bit of XC in there.


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