When I woke I was not feeling great, I was worried to get through the last day ok and found me tired and anxious. Dan arrived and although it was great to talk with him I then forgot a few things leaving me badly prepared and feeling uneasy while getting ready at the launching place. After all I have history with this place, some fear was likely being tired opened the door.
After I rigged I took time to myself to focus and gain some composure, later after the briefing I started to feel ok telling a couple of old skydiving stories reminding me of other times leaving me enthused. In the back of my mind I had been remembering a comment on Zhenya’s blog about flying out to the middle of the valley and bombing to avoid a flight, this totally evaporated when I finally made it to base after a slow initial climb out.
I started on route, or what I thought was the route, ending at the wrong peak behind launch, my solution was rubbish to try for the turnpoint partly because it would mean my instruments task map would stay in sync with my flight, what a crap reason.
This shortsightedness trapped me in an unlandable valley. I stayed calm circling in zeros looking for a way out but everything was adding up to nothing however at least in those zeros I had time to think what to do. While looking at an unlikely field as a possible bombout I noticed I was still at 7800ft, so had a chance to get back to the main valley. I steeled myself for an attempt, hugged the terrain, and started my journey. While on the way on the leaside I worried about that and I started planning a crossing to the windward slope, it was then when I was lucky enough to blunder into a thermal.
It was a strong rough leaside thermal, all its roughness, every hit, every bump were like the sweetest gift all the way to base just under 11000ft.
The rest of the task was quiet, I flew it but did not solve it. Later I would see Gerolf deeper in the mountains climbing but not in a place I could get to, bittersweet inspiration for another day.
I think I was just so relieved to be ok but without lift I had to be cautious not to be stuck again so I erred on the cautious side and went for safety. Gerolf would later congratulate me on finding the only route in that area without lift – quite a feat I think.
My first landing at camping was ok… Better, but I really like Gerolf’s approach planning it makes the whole issue of landing calmer, I like it a lot.
Thanks Gerolf and Zhenya this has been a beautiful trip so full of wonder a real adventure.
[ REFLECTION – thinking about this flight and looking at the footage of my final valley crossing, together also with the footage of my final glide out to the landing field, I come to realise that I made all that last part of this flight in a giant blue hole… I had smooth constant sink all the way from my last climb to landing, its my error of judgment not to have noticed I was flying in a blue hole – but at least now I know why I should avoid one in future.]