I watch the lightning flash across the blackened sky once again as the thunder rattles between the canyon walls. It is a scene that is the daily norm around here as it has been raining now for over three weeks. I do not mean the occasional afternoon thundershower….I mean rain! It feels more like the Pacific Northwest these days rather than the high desert mountains of Utah. Normally, the Wasatch mountains are just releasing their snowy clutches offering us the first bigger XC flights of the year. Not so this year…those flights actually happened months ago! Up until the last three weeks the weather, and equally the flying, has been out of this world amazing. So, I guess I am not too surprised at the sudden onslaught of bad weather. I knew the day of reckoning would eventually come, but it does not make it any easier as I stare out the window and watch the light flash across the sky.
Before the memories of winter completely fade from my aging mind, I want to summarize a few quick thoughts looking back. Winter along the Wasatch just never showed up this year. The lack of snow made for horrific ski conditions in our mountains, but it created an “Endless Summer” mentality for a few of us pilots not afraid to do a little hiking. I kept waiting for the cold, calm air to show up, but it never really did. Every flight seemed to reveal some type of bubbling air with just enough energy to let me fly somewhere else. I am reminded of the many flights above Mt. Olympus and above the summit of Grandeur Peak looking down and realizing it was December, January, or February. I remember flying alongside a friends as we pushed onward across the entire Wellsville Mountain range in northern Utah under clear February skies. I remember circling alone high above snow covered Box Elder peak looking down into the dark shadows of American Fork; or flying along the upper faces of Lone Peak, listening to the melting water cascade over the granite rocks just feet below. I remember several days so far this year above the familiar terrain near Twin Peaks, or flying into the upper reaches of Bells Canyon. I remember flying side by side friends as they realized some of their own goals, and watching the smiles on their faces expand alongside my own. This year so far has produced some great flights, great adventures, and great smiles and with it a plethora of memories I do not wish to lose.
The consequences of all this rain, and lack of flying has offered a chance to sit back, reflect, finish a few projects, and thus plot a few more. As I reflect, I realize I have not actually written anything of substance in awhile, not due to a lack of adventures, just a conscious effort to fly a little more quietly these days. Honestly, I wanted to push expectations aside for a season and refocus on flying my own way, for my own reasons. The results have been refreshing and I am excited once again to push forward towards my own vision of flying, my own goals, expectations and adventures. With my eyes now squarely set on a few new “projects”, it is going to be an exciting year!