It is amazing what can happen in just 24 hours. Especially within the realm of paragliding. If your lucky you can bag one good, solid mountain flight within that timeframe, but five? Yeah, our short excursion to central Utah this weekend yielded just that. These are not short nor small sessions in the air, but high altitude, high alpine type flights.
The high desert is a fickle place to fly a Paraglider, riddled with unique dangers and intensities in the air that often do not get the respect they rightfully deserve. Through the years I have been taught this respect, sometimes in a not so pleasant way. I have seen too many pilots treat the conditions in these desert mountains just like those of the training hill. Unfortunately, that approach is a bit like petting a dragon, and thinking your just petting a kitty cat. Thus I am very cautious when I approach these desert mountains. As autumn unleashed Clark, Keenan, and myself looked closely for just the right weather window, and when it happened, we went.
We were joined by Jeff, Mike, Bob, and of course our ever faithful driver Amber. The first late morning flight began from the 11,200 foot summit of Monroe Peak just as the small autumn clouds began to form above. In the zero wind conditions Keenan and I made quick work of the small thermals and after a few turns found ourselves tickling the underside of the clouds…and the rhythm of the day begins.
As evening starts to give way to night we sneak in one final flight off the summit, just as the clouds part. The sky erupts in golden splendor reflecting the beautiful autumn colors below. Cross Country (XC) flying is fun and all, but absolutely NOTHING compares to a high mountain flight in the smooth evening air. No adrenaline, no rush, no miles, lines, or expectations; just a heavenly beauty and divine feeling in the soul that cannot be replicated with ones feet on the ground. Folding our gliders in the grass under the dancing purple sky, a few of us recognized what just happened and couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces. That 30 minute flight was hands down one of the most spectacular flights I have perhaps EVER had in my flying career……and believe me, I have had a few.