Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Ridge Run

I had a number of simple things to sort out today (internet no longer working, important mail not delivered or not received or lost after being received). I'm sure I'm already looking through rose-tinted glasses, but I can't really recall any of these things happening in 15 years in the States.

Once I had internet connectivity, I had to deal with issues at work. As a result, I set of for a longish hike at 3 pm. No drive was involved - just a hike and climb to a nice ridge (La Crete des Serres), a walk along the ridge, a steep descent and a walk back to town.

The wind was still too strong to fly today, but it wasn't as unreasonable as yesterday. For the first time this year, the climb up was hot. Lovely views in all directions, with clouds covering the high mountains of the Mercantour to the East, but everywhere else was blue. 

I finished the hike getting back to St Andre with the last of the light, tired but happy.

Mistral Day Hike

Today was a strong Mistral day, so I never considered flying and instead went for a hike. I had intended to get up early so I could do a hike and then watch the Grand Prix afterwards but I'm glad to say I slept too well for that!

It was noon before I started my hike. Low down, the wind wasn't too strong, but it was obviously very windy higher up - cumulus clouds were flying past the peaks. Mistral days often bring a deep blue cloudless sky but there were plenty of clouds today - low cumulus, high cirrus and contrails. 

My hike was a triangle in the medium mountains N of St. Andre. The high altitude part of the hike crosses some lovely pastures used by sheep through the summer months but they are still deserted. I looked in a couple of cabanes that will be used by the shepherds for their 3 month summer stays - rooms with a view, but a little spartan. I saw very little wildlife - 4 marmottes is all I can remember. 

The wind was strong enough to make walking difficult; at one point, it ripped off my sun-glasses and they went flying. I was 'in the lee' for most of the hike, which meant the wind direction kept changing unpredictably. I got wet from waterfalls several hundred feet below me. Taking a pee was a major challenge involving expert control and timing. All in all, a good day to be on the ground!

More pics at ->

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in France

After a very busy two weeks in the States, I'm back in St Andre. I had a lot to do in the States including arranging (most aspects of) a permanent move to France. I don't think I have felt busier and there wasn't time for any outdoor re-creation at all (not even a run in the morning, never mind flying). 

I feel tired and I'd really like to have a nice couple of days flying over what's left of the memorial day weekend. The forecasts pretty much rules that out - Mistral conditions are predicted for the next couple of days. But some nice hiking or cycling would work too... 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Heading back .... and better weather arrives

The poor weather has continued through the spring. I have had quite a few flights, but almost all have been in poor weather, where you are looking for enough lift to stay up, but not so much lift that you get sucked into clouds. The margins have always been a little tight (e.g. cloudbase a few hundred feet over launch) and you find yourself transitioning from looking for lift to fighting it very quickly.

I will be heading back to the States tomorrow (Saturday) and (predictably enough) the weather is improving. Yesterday didn't rain and it started beautifully. I decided to go on a bike ride and met up with Ray; as I was waiting for him to get ready huge clouds were building in the sky. I thought we would be struggling to finish our ride before the rain arrived, but it never quite overdeveloped and the day stayed dry.

Today, I intend to drive up most of the way to Paris  and just relax. It looks like a beautiful day for a drive / hike / flight / bike ride - I just wish there had been a few more of them over the last few weeks!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Amazing Weather Continues

I guess paraglider pilots are always interested in (and seldom satisfied with) the weather, but conditions have just been amazing this spring in the South of France. This morning I was awakened by 50 mph winds and torrential rain in St Andre.

A very strong depression over the Gulf of Genoa looked more like a black hole than a normal weather phenomena on the weather charts. New snow (see snow in may ) and huge waves on the med (see big waves). I couldn't resist looking at the soaring forecast and it was full of terms like 'très mauvaises conditions aérologiques'.

Despite all the wet weather and wind, by this evening it was showery and bracing and very pleasant for a short walk. Blue sky with clouds rushing by at an amazing speed. I walked down to the Verdon (the river that flows through St Andre) and, as usual in limestone country after heavy rain, it looked more like liquid concrete than water.

While I'd like conditions to improve, today was fascinating from a weather perspective and I was glad to be firmly on the ground.