Friday, July 17, 2020

Flying at Mussel Rock and P3

I finally got my P3.  For me the breakthrough was figuring out that I couldn't wait until conditions were perfect(9 MPH and West) to launch at Walker.  Walker is the easiest launch, but at least recently conditions are hard to soar from Walker.

Also I created my own weather dashboard to maximize my opportunities to fly. It's available at, and I just open-sourced it today. Not to toot my own horn, but it is way better than anything else that I've seen.

Looking back at my logbook, I wrote a little SQL(I'm a nerd) to do some analysis of my flights at Mussel Rock.  I flew most of my time launching from Coyote, and less than a quarter of my flight time was from Walker.  Also most of those flights from Walker were early on in my logbook, and of the recent flights it's pretty rare that I launched from Walker.

LaunchTotal flying minutes
It's pretty cool when planes fly overhead.

This is one of my coworkers!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Mountain Biking at China Camp

China Camp opened up again about a month ago, and since it was too windy to paraglide I went back for the first time today(on a Sunday).

I did 2 loops.  It was a bit tiring, but it felt good.  There were a lot of cars parked on the road, but the trails weren't too crowded.  More hikers than usual, but people were generally social distancing well.  I would be fine going back again on a weekend.

Wildlife sightings: a young stag, turkey vulture, acorn woodpecker, and some lizards.

Also I did fly the paraglider on Friday for ~30 minutes at MR.  I launched from Jungle, which I've only done once before.  It was a weird flight, because the fog level was pretty low.  So trying to stay under the fog, but trying to keep enough altitude to stay up.  I decided to come down when the fog felt like it was getting to low and beginning to hinder visibility.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Hiking up/down the Green Monster

So yesterday, I went to MR again.  I launched from Coyote, but it was too light to stay up.  Did a sledder to the main rectangle LZ.

So I decided to hike up the Green Monster for the first time.  I was using my EZ bag, which was a mistake.  I should have packed the wing for a hike and fly.  Paraglider pilots complain a lot about hikes.  It turns out that it is only a 15 minute hike to the top of Green Monster.  It's just super steep, and the trail was very exposed and crumbly in places.  On the way up, the wind didn't feel strong, but right at the lip it was blowing 16+ mph and gusting even higher.  That's too strong for me, and I'd never launched here.  So I made the decision to hike back down. It's a bit harder hiking down, but it's still not that bad.  The worst section is a really narrow crumbly part close to the top.

Anyway after I hiked down, I noticed that the wind had picked up since my first launch.  I should have just waited at launch, but it was good exercise and I got to explore.  So I walked over to Coyote, and launched.  No one was around, and I cruised back and forth on the tiny ridge for 30+ minutes.  Some people must have seen me staying up, because I could see ~6 pilots hiking up to launch.  Just as they were ready to launch, the wind died down a few mph.  None of them were able to get up, and I sank out after their 2nd pilot launched.

When I landed, I found that I had accidentally recorded all the hiking/flying on Strava.  I meant to turn it off after the hike.
I swear this was an accident, but it looks cool.

Then I hiked back up to do another sledder just for fun.  I'm slowly getting closer to the hours requirement for my P3 rating.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Longest flight to date - 2.25 hours

I went to MR yesterday, and the conditions were a bit light and South.  It was really crowded at first, because I guess everyone was expecting good conditions and it was a Sunday.  I did a three flights from Coyote Launch.  And I sank out immediately on all of them.  By this point the crowds had mostly left launch, and some people were just hanging out in the LZ.  I figured what the hell, I'll hike up for another sledder.  This was my first day launching from Coyote, and it would at least be some good practice.  But the wind picked up just enough that I was able to soar the cliff in front of Coyote a few times, and then I turned South and was able to make it around the corner.  I made it up the cliffs over the beach.  I ended up flying for 2.25 hours.  I would have landed sooner, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to get up again.  And I need those hours to get to P3.  I'm getting closer.  This one flight was >10% of the total hours that I need to make it to P3.

Oh and I named my glider.  The colors of the glider are lime green and yellow.  And recently I created a summer cocktail that we named a 'Gatorade Spritz'.  It kinda tastes like a lemon-lime Gatorade, and it's pretty refreshing.  The name is kinda a joke, because it sounds pretty nasty.  But the drink is actually really good.

This is NOT me.  I found this picture on Ozone's facebook page, but this is the same color scheme as my wing.

Gatorade Spritz:

In cocktail shaker:
1.5 oz vodka
1 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
Ice cubes

Shake that up, strain in a pint glass filled with ice.  Add in a healthy splash of lime flavored Le Croix, and stir.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ridge Soaring MR Cheetah

I ridge soared at Cheetah last night for the first time.  I was up for 45 minutes before I decided to land due to low fog.  I need to get those hours in before I can get my P3 rating.  I was scared of Cheetah, because I had heard that there were some serious dangers there.  But if you don't top land, stay away from rotor and the death bowl then it's fine.

Part of the hike back up after landing on the beach.
I took this picture at Cheetah a few weeks ago.  It was pretty foggy last night.

I did it again tonight!  One flight that lasted 70 minutes.  If I can keep this up, I'll have my hours for P3 pretty quickly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sledders at MR Cheetah

After spending a long time on Saturday parawaiting, I decided I was more than willing to hike for some flying.  I like hiking, so why not.  I had been looking into doing some sledders from Cheetah launch, and I finally tried it for the first time last night.  I decided that I certainly wasn't ready to top land at Cheetah, but a sledder and landing on the beach should be totally fine.

The main challenge was that the wind was very light, which requires more forward movement to bring the wing up.  And since cheetah is on top of a bluff, it means you kinda need to run towards the edge.  But there is enough time to abort if necessary, it's just an unnatural feeling.  The wind picked up a touch after the first flight, and that made the next two much easier.

View from the top
View from the bottom

The sun was setting as I climbed up the hill for the last time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


I spent a lot of Saturday waiting to fly at Mussel Rock, and it just never happened.  If I was smart, I would have hiked up the Green Monster and launched from there.  Instead I sat around in my lawn chair at Walker launch, and read Slash's autobiography.  But the weather/views were nice, and the book was interesting.

Not a bad spot to read a book for a few hours.
A bummer to hike out instead of flying, but that's the way it goes.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Mountain biking

Last Saturday, I drove down to Skeggs for some mountain biking.  But the parking lot(and all of the pullouts) were so crowded, I just ended up driving home.  Things are weird due to the pandemic.  Anyway I decided to wait until it got dark, and ride Sutro.  I had just gotten a second light.  The new light is a flood for the handlebars, and I already had a spot that mounts on my helmet.  It was a good little ride.  And the combo of spot and flood lights was awesome.  I turned off the flood light a few times to see what a difference it makes, and I wouldn't go night riding without it anymore.  The ride concluded when I saw a skunk on the trail.  After that I decided to head back down and call it a night.

Today(a Friday), I had the day off, so I drove down to Skeggs.  Even for a weekday the parking lot was starting to fill up around 10:15am.  I rode with a facemask under my chin that I could pull up when needed.   As always the trails along the ridge were the most trafficked, and once I was able to descend it got very comfortable.  I did two of my loops on Manzanita, and two of my loops on Olijion.  It felt really good, and I think I've finally gotten my mojo back after breaking my collarbone.

Lots of blue bells along the trail.

Oh and now all my favorite mountain biking spots are open again: China Camp, Tamarancho, Skeggs, and Mt. Sutro.  The trick is just figuring out how to avoid the crowds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Night Riding and Covid-19

I haven't written any posts in a long time.  We are a few months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and have been self isolating.  Trips and vacations have been cancelled.  It's hard to get outside.  But being cooped up inside for so long has made weekly gnar even more important.

We have been self isolating for maybe 2 months now.  So no trips anywhere, no trips to Tahoe, parks all over the Bay Area are either closed or have severe restrictions.  We tried to do a hike on Mt. Sutro on a weekday a few weeks ago.  Mt. Sutro was so crowded and the trails were so narrow that it just felt traumatic.  Trail runners literally breathing on you.  After that I sort of internally dismissed Mt. Sutro as a place to go until this is over.  We did a hike on Lands End recently, and even though the trails are >10 feet wide, there were still a few people crowding us.  At one point we stopped on the side of the trail to admire the view, and a couple literally brushed past us and touched us as they walked by.  This was on a section of trail that was empty and 10 feet wide.  Some people are just inconsiderate and dumb.

But sometimes I'm the idiot.  A few days ago, I finally remembered night riding.  It's like I just totally forgot about it or something.  This is typically the wrong season for it since sunset is currently at 8pm, and it still takes 30 minutes to get dark after that.  I usually go night riding in the Winter, when it gets dark around 5pm.  Then I can get a nice ride on a weekday after work, and still come home for dinner at a reasonable time.

So last night I went for a ride on Mt. Sutro.  It felt so good to get some mountain biking in.  I didn't see ANY people, which was awesome.  I did see a raccoon from a distance, and I had a close encounter with a skunk.  It can be pretty creepy alone in the woods at night, shadows moving around, shiny eyes looking back at you, and the Eucalyptus trees creaking/cracking in the wind.  But man that was fun.

I haven't ridden the trails in a while, but I know the area well enough to see that some parts had been through a little santization.  Some bits were wider, a few tight trees were missing, some trail had been rerouted, and I think someone took a sledgehammer to some of the rocks.  Still a good time though, and it feels like I finally found a good pandemic activity for the outdoors.

That's not a camera flash, that's how bright my helmet light is.  It turns the night into day.

Lots of these signs up throughout the park.