Like everyone else around me, I am staring down yet another year. Without a doubt it is going to be a year of possibilities, challenges, and hopefully some great opportunities. I always look forward to a new year with a little bit of apprehension as I wonder if is going to be a gentle climb, or a monumental wall of struggles ahead. Last year’s ‘climb’ was not that enjoyable, and I am hoping, and working towards a better year. When it comes to flying, filming, and pursuing those things I actually love to do, last year was a bit frustrating. Sure, I had some great flights, adventures, filming excursions, etc., but at the end of the year I felt like I left too many opportunities on the table. My “real” job too had a similar tone, as I really didn’t enjoy it all that much as I seemed to be swimming in an economic washing machine of craziness. So, amidst this engulfing mid-life crisis of mine, I am eagerly staring toward the coming year, hoping I can find a more solid purpose and some passionate direction once again. It seems the two things I am still unquenchably passionate about in life are the pursuits of paragliding and photography. So, with that in mind I am not leaving any opportunities on the table this year. So far, so good.
January 1, 2015
It is -10° C and I find myself hiking up the familiar slopes of Grandeur Peak. I am alone and it brings back many memories of my early flying days as flying solo was the norm. It seems in winter time most pilots put their gliders away, and to this day that mentality baffles me beyond comprehension. The sun is burning bright and I launch into the bitterly cold mid-day air. I find a few small thermal bubbles, just strong enough to work with in an effort to keep my feet off the ground as long as possible. It pays off and I enjoy a prolonged flight over the snowy foothills.
January 2, 2015
The inversion is setting in, but the winds aloft are looking light. It looks like a good day for some heli-paragliding so I get in touch with some friends in Logan, to see if we can make it happen. It’s a go. Mike lands his helicopter on a random dirt road near the Idaho/Utah border where he picks me up and flies us back to Logan to rendezvous with Keenan and Dev. We load the gear and head back out to the distant mountains. From there Mike shuttles us and our gear to the top of the mountains. I always love the feeling of being dropped off by a helicopter as it violently batters you with wind, only to leave you moments later in a calm silence, alone in the high mountains with the hopes of a long descent ahead. The bobcat tracks riddle the snowy ground around me, and I have to smile at this winter wilderness.
Keenan, Dev and I each take flight into the cold, calm winter air. A few pockets of lift are found and we are able to hang on for 25 minutes or so before giving in and heading out over the valley for a little glider fun. Feet sliding down an ice covered road with wing over head gliding past a parked helicopter knowing you just hop back in and do it again is a great feeling. Big thanks to Mike for being the hero of the day!
January 3, 2015
The sky is gray, with mixed layers of inversion and pollution setting in. I find myself in Bountiful and an opportunity presents itself to get in a quick flight off The V. I drive up the snow covered road until the snow becomes too deep. I turn the truck around and my wife and kids drive down as I head out and up on foot. Being alone and with a much quickened pace I put a mile or so behind me pretty quickly and soon find myself on launch. The winds are at zero and a few light flakes of snow are trying to fall. I take off into the clear valley, over the hundreds of deer bounding below. A brief moment flashes across my mind. One I get all the time that reminds me of how magical this whole experience of flight is. No engines, no noise, just me and the sky.
January 4, 2015
I do not fly on Sunday’s…never have, and likely never will. It is just my thing. Having a day to not worry about flying is a good thing. That is okay with me. I already have more mountain flights under me this year than there have been days. As I try to not leave any missed opportunities on the table this year…..I am thus far encouraged. Now if I can just figure out what to do with the rest of my life.