As I walk around my backyard I notice a lone blooming flower pushing it’s way above the dirt. It is still early March, but a simple signal that spring is just around the corner. I have been feeling the subtle reaches of spring the last few weeks while seeking continued solace in the sky.
The last week of February felt the first subtle blooming of our mountain thermals*. For three days in a row they were weak, and not completely organized, but exercising patience they were enough to boost me high enough to look down on our beautiful Wasatch mountains. With each day these thermals continue to bloom, stronger and stronger pushing me higher and higher thus allowing for some small cross country endeavors. Mostly out-and-back type flights. Last week I was hoping to make the jump from Bountiful over the mountains into Salt Lake City, but with a low cloud base the thermals had just not bloomed high, nor organized enough and I eventually had to turn back and land on the bench near the LDS Temple.
A storm rolled through this week dumping snow along the Wasatch once again blanketing the mountains in white. With skies clearing yesterday and a potentially good forecast I decided to hike above my house at The B….my home site. With weak thermals releasing as I walked up the familiar hill, I decided that today was as good as any to get my “sink out” for the year over with. With no visual triggers (leaves on the trees) I was relying completely on instinct. It felt right, so I pulled up the wing, and stepped in to the sky. To my great relief, lift was to be found and working the small thermals I soon found myself 5,000+ feet above the valley floor looking down on a mountain range of pure white. No cameras, no videos, just me and the lonely sky….Oh how I have missed this view. I guess I will leave the “sink out” for another day I tell myself as I turn south. Across the range, over Little Cottonwood Canyon, Bells Canyon, Big Willow, Lone Peak, then out across Draper. We call this flight the “Milk Run” and it feels great to get the first one of the year done.
I am sure the snow will fall again, but with each passing day the thermals, and the flowers in my backyard will continue to bloom skyward, signaling spring is almost here.
*Springtime thermals in the mountains often provide the most violent and turbulent air of the year. Just a friendly reminder to use caution during springtime flying, use good judgement and fly inside your limits.