Paragliding Day 71

This certainly represents a privileged problem to have, but… I am struggling to choose the right course of action at any given moment and paying a price of frustration and fatigue with some regularity. The demands of my work prove bursty and so, too, does the amenability of the weather to my hobbies. In this weird time, meanwhile, self-care seems more critical than ever. Without the right attention to my wellbeing I sink into a funk and that state in turn saps my energy which can take me on a downward spiral for days at a time. I must be analytic and strategic to avoid this pit of despair.

Last week I went skiing on a Tuesday, meant to ski on a Thursday but prioritized work, might have flown on Friday morning but had had a garbage night’s sleep from a glut of work-related stress, chose to fly Friday afternoon vs ski but caught mediocre wind that diminished the pleasure of the experience, got sucked deeper into work-related conundrums over the weekend to the detriment of flying, managed to ski Monday afternoon but then worked late afterward in a way that jacked up my sleep, and by Tuesday found myself mired in a deep pit of jet black agony.

Come evening, however, I had rolled a huge work-related rock over a hilltop, made from-scratch coal-fired pizza while sipping whiskey, and capped it off with a great night’s sleep. By morning I felt like a new human. I ate a small breakfast, knocked out several successful hours of work, ate a satisfying lunch, and… found myself contemplating a regular puzzle. Do I scoot up to the mountains for some skiing, committing to a guaranteed-ish value proposition, or do I role the dice on the wind forecast and commit to flying? Today, surveying the gamut of options, constraints, and odds, I chose the latter.

As the afternoon burned away I wondered if I had made the right choice. I thought about going to FPS as early as 1430 for some side-hill practice but wondered if even that might prove too wild. Eventually I headed that way by 1615 but wondered if I had waited too long, so ambiguous were the conditions that I pondered waiting a bit longer on the thought that FPN would be the right call. I arrived at the bottom ~1630, waited for Joe to arrive, suggested he leave his jeep at the bottom, then ferried him and his gear to the top, leaving us a vehicle at the bottom for a quick return trip as a hedge against weak wind.

On three occasions I found myself patiently waiting for a puff of wind, sniping such an opportunity with a timely reverse inflation, backpedaling aggressively to buy myself just enough time to inspect my lines while holding the center As, then spinning forward and slamming the throttle to the wall. Each time it felt smooth, natural, safe, and effective. Satisfying.

On the first go, Joe launched just moments before me, I arrived at the bottom shortly after he did, and we blazed back to the top. Joe seemed inclined to call it a day but I was in the “once moar unto the breach” camp and game for a return hike. I quickly got going with the expectation that he would quickly follow but… from the bottom I watched him make several abortive attempts to launch. I texted observations from my distant vantage hoping he would successfully launch and join me for a return hike but it was not happening. Eventually he pinged me with the suggestion that he would give me a return ride to the top and the ask that I help him figure out his forward inflation woes. And so I did.

We had him walk through his setup while I closely observed what he was doing. In this process I realized that his right hand was habitually acquiring the As from a forward position in a fashion that was yielding a twist. After having him reset and work through this several times we felt he had sorted out the problem with some permanence and saw him off to a launch.

After getting him on his way I quickly strapped in, waited for my wind, then sent it. By the time I reached the bottom Joe was already making haste to execute his return hike. When I enquired as to the rush he noted he was at material risk of being late for his wife’s birthday party. I wished him well and during my solitary hike wondered what was the most dangerous thing he had done today.

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