I was not expecting much from today but from the time I woke to the time I arrived at the park the wind seemed to be dialed into something nice and stable. Upon arriving at the park, however, I found myself wondering if the weather station were FUBAR. As I hopped out of my car it read 13G14 on my phone but I doubt if we were getting ten. Whatevs. T’was still pretty nice.
After only modest trouble I inflated and went for an unremarkable sled ride to the bottom in low-traffic conditions. Afterward, instead of waiting for the trailer to do a circuit, I decided to hike back to the top, and not just via the gradual switchback but rather the extremely steep direct route. My calves were on fire but I told myself this would serve as preparation for an eventual northside hike.
After returning to the top and taking a quick bathroom break I endeavored to get going again. This time proved somewhat more arduous. The intensiveness and gustiness of the wind had increased slightly, but not so much I felt I ought be outclassed by it, and after a couple of frustrating botched inflations and subsequent resets I contrived to make a second launch.
Most of this second flight offered a pleasant and uneventful soaring affair. On a handful of occasions my spider sense began tingling that I might have been getting too far up for being so far back and thus aimed outward to bleed off that risk. On one occasion another pilot ill-advisedly launched below and leftward of me, coming within maybe an uncomfortable ten feet of me, but I both banked rightward to build some margin for error and shouted “behind you!” to make my cohabitant in the “Walmart parking lot” aware of our imminent entanglement. The thing I most regret about this interaction, however, came a moment later when my forward looking avoidance strategy was to cheat inward behind this pilot to follow their track versus taking an evasive preemptive turn to get away from them. It was folly to do something that left me hostage to their subsequent decisions versus getting away from them. I was rewarded by having to deal with some turbulence while pinned into a small flying area. FAIL.
After a few circuits I found myself eying a top-landing approach. On several passes it felt as marginal as my northside top-landing last night and so I declined and did another pass. Eventually, however, I saw my opportunity, cheated inward, and made a go of it. I continued my eastward track until the last possible moment, banked hard to the left to gain wind alignment, touched down gently, spun around immediately, and… got a bit jerked around by my wing. There was no drama of note. I got jerked around slightly but quickly reeled in Cs and brakes to kill the wing. I wish I could have killed the wing more expeditiously but it was not a bad or worrisome affair, just mildly deficient in elegance and soft tissue preservation.
Later in the day I declined to do another flying outing. My right biceps felt mildly tweaked form this morning’s adventures. I gotta get more clever at avoiding the abuses of free-spirited wings. All the same it proved a highly productive and enjoyable day.