Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hiking in the Freezer

The sunny part of the hike!
I had a longish hike today, basically a big loop around Chalvet and the Allier. The first 3 hours or so were in the nice, open valley out to the west through Moriez, Hyges and Lambruisse. It was warm and sunny and I hiked in shirt sleeves. Over lunch I admired vultures flying along the ridge in the stable, weak conditions.

But then it was into a valley that is always cold, even on a hot summer day. The valley never gets the sun in winter and it was just like stepping into a freezer. I put on all my layers and was still cold, despite walking back to St Andre as quickly as I could. Some pics.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Cunning Plan

St Andre
When it's thermic at St Andre, you normally launch and go straight up. It's easy to believe this is because you're flying really well, but stable conditions in winter provide a reality check. This December has been sunny, dry and stable and, despite several hike and flies, there has been a distinct lack of circling and beeping.

Today I hatched a cunning plan to break this trend. I matched my biggest wing to my lightest gear so I was well under the weight range. I launched into a slight breeze but, while I did manage a few circles and get a few beeps, the air was still too stable. Every little bubble of lift died out almost right away, and any altitude gained was lost by the time I found the next bubble. At one point, I was joined by a vulture and I thought he might help me out. But when he started flapping his wings I knew I'd be back on the ground soon...