Paragliding Day 72

I thought I might re-join a couple of friends in the afternoon of their final day of a three day trip to Snowbird but with mineral basin and the tram shut for wind the value prop diminished sufficiently that sadly I passed. At least I had an awesome Friday with them.

I instead got to FPN at 1700 in hopes of some aerial shenanigans and… was moderately disappointed for my troubles, but not entirely. Driving to the park I could see only two hang gliders soaring, always a bad sign, owing to their operational range greatly exceeding that of paragliders. Arriving at the park I saw an assortment of paragliders kiting but experiencing a serious degree of violence. I did not even have to look at their wings to understand their plight. I could hear it. Crinkle-crinkle-crinkle-crinkle-woosh-SNAP.

Eventually I got brave enough to strap into my smaller wing, had ~15 minutes of messily interesting kiting practice and then… got plucked from a reverse-kiting position, found myself facing forward with my legs dangling in the air, thought to myself “I seem to flying” despite being on a wing sized for someone half my weight, was extremely careful to decouple the messy reality of my torso and legs from my brake inputs, and plopped back down only somewhat sloppily, grazing my butt on the ground briefly and quickly returning to a reverse-facing position, and ran hard rightward of my partially depowered wing while reeling in brake lines around my wrists like my soft tissues depended on it. With the wing fully under control I enquired whether Joe might terribly mind sitting on the center cells while I packed it up.

After that I took a break and observed the wind. Some people began to fly but Ben remarked that this was likely more a matter of degrading standards than improving conditions. After some time the wind attenuated enough that I felt I could safely strap into my 37m wing but then conditions collapsed so quickly that I could barely inflate. Bah. Can’t win’em all. I did not get to fly but I got some really valuable ground handling experience.

Wanting to wring what experience I could from the moment, I experimented with a different-than-usual way of packing up my wing. Whereas ordinarily after plopping it in rosette form in the middle of my stuff-sack I walk around its full circumference and stuff it inward I instead stayed at the top of the rosette and repeatedly sucked the wing inward to the center. I found that without much effort this afforded me a sufficiently more compact pack that I could not only pull in the drawstrings but also entirely close the outer zip, thereby converting the pack from the usual floppy spherical-ish mess into a tight pill-capsule-like form that would sit stably on my back. That felt like a tiny but important victory, preparing me for arduous hikes by gleaning critical efficiencies.

Also the sunset wasn’t bad.

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