Friday, August 21, 2020

South Chilcotin - Leckie Lake, Aug 15-17


Another weekend with too much upper wind for flying, so its plan B: a hiking weekend. I always wanted to explore more of the South Chilcotin and choose Leckie Lake as destination. Minutes after getting to the trail head we are swarmed by horseflies, blackflies and mosquitoes. This has the positive effect that I grab my bug shirt. After the last trip I noted that a bug shirt wasn’t necessary. It sure was this time!

The trail in was just as described in other trip reports. Reasonably well to follow and marked with ribbons in the trees but easily lost in the many boggy meadows. Lucky for us it had been dry for some time and the meadows were not too wet, still crocs are useful. Great views, lots of bear scat and nobody else… a very nice change from the crowded hiking close to Vancouver lately. We followed the east side of Wolverine Creek up to Leckie Lake. Total time in 4:45, out 4:15. 

Amazing alpine ‘lake-scape’ and nobody else around. Except swarms of horse flies and later mosquitoes that make us get into the tent early – should have brought reading material! Stunning stars at night - after the mosquitoes went to bed. 

Next day we hike to Wolverine Pass. Just as we walk around another small lake a grizzly mom with two cubs run across the valley several hundred meters ahead of us. We move to the other valley side to give them space. Always glad to see a grizz run away.

Great view from Wolverine Pass to Taylor Pass and into Gun Creek valley. A strong wind over the pass blows the insects away so we settle down for a while to take in the scenery. We get lazy and skip a scramble up one of the ridges near the lake (the one to the east of Wolverine Creek looks easier) and walk to the east end of the lake for a look down Leckie Creek Valley and a short jump into the lake. But its too cold for swimming for me. Dinner back at camp. 

Winds have picked up and after dark bands of clouds come in. Strong wind continues all night with some rain and the odd lightening and thunder. Glad the new tent (MEC Volt2) is holding up. A bit surprising since there was nothing but sun in the forecast two days ago. We pack up under cloudy skies for an early hike out. Our trusty Deli is still the only vehicle parked at the trailhead. The sky looks a little smoky. During the night the Sea2Sky corridor Vancouver to Pemberton got hit by big thunderstorms causing many wildfires to start. I’m glad the storm didn’t make it to the Chilcotin; it could have been a serious problem getting stuck up a lonely logging road. 

We take the scenic route back via Carpenter Lake, Bridge River and Lillooet. Crazy winds switching 180 degrees several times along the eastern part of the lake and down bursts from the ridge to Anderson Lake. Checking out Nick Neyens landing spot at the mouth of Tyaughton Creek. Steep rock walls along Bridge River Canyon below the dam. Then on to our old paddling grounds, Bridge River from Yalakom Creek. Lillooet is hot… 37oC!


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Roldanillo - Colombia

Ten days flying in Colombia! A very last minute decision... but after seeing all the great flights on XContest we just had to go get some sunshine and air time ourselves. After mediocre conditions in January (British Open had to cancel 3 tasks) things changed in February with dry air and high cloudbase and many record flights were posted.

After arriving in Cali we first checked out Piedechinche a nearby flying site. Sweet to get off the plane at midnight and fly the next day (70km out and return with a rather low safe - vulture supported)! Three years ago we went straight to Roldanillo but arrived too late for a flight (no afternoon flights there due to the Pacifico wind that blows over the back of launch). At Piedechinche launch we met Canadians from Whitehorse, a friend from Washington and Pal Takats (he remembered that I did a SIV with him!). We staid in Santa Elena (LZ is within walking distance from our accommodation - the main LZ is much closer to launch). Edgar our host and his wife were super nice. He even picked us up from the airport when we arrived at a late hour. Great breakfast too with scrambled eggs and fruit! Have to remember long pants next time - Piedechinche is home to ankle-biting insects. Nice site and better for beginners than Roldanillo as there are no high voltage powerlines and problems with the Pacifico (therefore allows afternoon flights).

After two days we moved on to Roldanillo. Paddy and I got a ride from Edgar and Pete flew to Tulua - halfway to Rolda (but has some trouble finding our accommodation in Rolda). Jorge our new host brought us to our Roldanillo home where we met two housemates, Frank and Bruno the dalmatian (and a young Polish couple ... but we did heard more of them than we saw).

It felt like I started off the flying where I left 3 years ago with a 86km out and return to Ansermanuevo. The flatland flying also seemed to work although I still find it rather stressful: deciding where to go for the next climb (clouds don't always work and neither does the ground) and many low saves. Lots of vulture rescues though, I love these birds! A few times I flew with 15 or 20 of them. And one really low save over the roof of an old factory near Zarzal - not the greatest choice as the landing options there were scares. Advice from a fellow pilot: when high fly the clouds, look at the ground when below 1600m, people working in the fields and when really low ... hope for some vultures. Only one premature landing at La Union when the valley wind scrubbed the thermals on the front hills. I avoided the nasty dog pack Paddy encountered a couple of days before. Did my longest duration flight (5:58) and my biggest triangle (87km). Another first: I had to pull on my stabilo line to clear a cravat, could feel it starting to turn. Never had that before (in 1100 flights and as many hours). Average speed was pretty low ... I didn't plan much and wanted to leave options open, so I flew a little farther north along the ridge just in case this was turning into an out and return and not a triangle. Fun and much faster flying along the back ridge when it worked. Interesting how quick the Pacifico comes in. On one flight I saw people landing whichever way at the airstrip LZ in no wind and 10 min later after a leg over town it got pretty bumpy and I almost got parked landing. On a different flight I landed near Zarzal in strong-ish wind (because the thermals were shredded close to the ground) and while I'm packing up I see other pilots getting parked and having a difficult time loosing altitude. Surprising it gets so windy on the east side of the valley.
Pete also has a first: he ventures under one of the bigger clouds in search of lift and sees it not only from both sides but also from the inside. A positive note: No trappings behind the powerlines in our crew.

What a great trip! Friendly people. Google translate is handy (or better brush up on Spanish). Mango con leche, fruits, giant avocados and mixed meat dish at Che's (but come early) were delicious. Met old friends and made new ones (from Bremen, Netherlands, Belgium). Gotta be careful with water and lemonade, need long pants at Piedechinche (ankle biting bugs), avoid putting glider bags in the trunk of busses. But I don't think I'll ever get used to the high temperatures at night. Bedrooms often don't have outside windows and are awfully hot all night.

Arriving on the east side of the Cauca valley at La Victoria

Epiphytes on powerlines. Small Ball Moss - Tillandsia recurvata, not a moss ... Bromelia family

Bruno the dog

Che Cafe - amazing meat dishes but come early!

Public transport

After Colombia #15 in Women XContest (of 615)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Heavy Rain

Paddy is sandbagging and says they never had the river come up that high.We drop by and help the neighbor move framed pictures and other things out of his flooded basement and pump water out.

The one and only road to Sasquatch ski resort in the Fraser Valley gets washed out and 500 skiers don't get home for several days.

Total rain for January 31 was 130mm or 130 l/m2. With all the snow and rain January 2020 was one fo the wettest on record for Vancouver.

January 2020 was one of the wettest on record at YVR, with over 250 mm of precipitation. It rained or snowed 30 out of 31 days. Feb 1, 2020. Richmond News

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Turns in Town!

January 15th and 30 cm snow in town! I even do some turns down on McKay Avenue in front of our house, boot top pow but the base is thin. In the park across the road I also run into a paddling friend I haven't seen for 10 years or so. She lives with kid and husband just a couple of blocks away! Lots of snow in the local mountains too and it was needed!

Of course the snow wreaked havoc on the traffic in town.