Monday, June 27, 2011

Hike to Kearsarge Pass

Trail head located in the end of Onion Valley road near Independence, CA. We have been here last year, but made it only half way to the pass. We also plan to come back in August for backpacking trip, so I want to check it out before. It took me about 2 hours to cover 4.5 miles to the pass with 800 meters ascent. There was solid snow after second lake, so path finding was slightly problematic. Here is view from the pass toward Kings Canyon:
More pictures from the trip

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flight from Walt's to Bishop (Owens valley), 60 miles

Record amount of snow this season delayed Horseshoe Meadows road opening, which leads to Walt's point PG/HG launch in Owens valley. I was calling ranger station since May to check when it can happen. Finally road was opened at June 8th. There was a big group of pilots from Crestline/Sylmar planning to fly Father's day weekend, but the best weather was for Wednesday 15th, so instead of waiting we decide to go for it. Wake up at 3:00 am, pick up Eddie our driver from Ventura at 4:30, back to home and meet with Jonathan at 5:45, made Lone Pine by 8:45. Our typical meet place in Lone Pine, High Sierra Cafe was closed this year, so we meet with Marcus (HG) and PG pilots from Tahoe on Whitney Portal road. At launch by 9:45. Day did not start until 11:00, so I had some time to walk around and get used to altitude. Since I had entire launch for myself I want to try new launch techniques. Tried reverse launch from plateau, but it did not work out, not enough wind. Then forward launch was successful. It’s harder to execute, but safer because you can stop easily as opposed to launch from steep rocky slope, which I usually do. Air was rough and turbulent from beginning, got few small asymmetric collapses, but major one was few miles into the flight. It started from 50%-60% asymmetric and reopened just fine, however I pull opposite brake too hard (hello hypoxia?) and spin a glider. Exit a spin fine after 360, still around 200 meters over terrain. I did not want to be deep after this point and headed out toward the valley where thermals were nicer. The rest of the flight was uneventful. Jonathan catch up after Onion valley and landed before Big Pine, Marcus before Bishop. There was SE/W convergence line running straight north through Bishop, but it stopped after 5-7 miles. There was massive development over Boundary Peak and clouds show NW out there. I opted to land just next to Marcus on nice, green meadow. 10 minutes later Dave, another PG from Canada joined us. Back to Lone Pine at 6:00 pm and back home at 12:30 am. Good, long day!

Flight from Walt's to Bishop in Owens valley from Alex Gagarin on Vimeo.
My GPS track:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mt. San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek

Left home at 4:30 am and on trail at 6:30 am. After initial steep climb to Vivian Creek trail follow creek in forest. There was a lot of snow patches after High Creek Camp, so it was easier to just go up hill instead of figuring out where the actual trail is. Meet a bobcat:
he was sitting on the trail and don't want to get out of my way, so I walk around and he keep watching me from behind the tree:
Another interesting observation was cloud development over the mountain. It was high wind day (40+ mph on summit) with a lot of lenticular clouds.

Cloud over San Gorgonio peak from Alex Gagarin on Vimeo.

Top of the mountain mostly covered with snow, but trail is well defined and there is no need for crampons or other special equipment:
According to my GPS round trip was around 19 miles (30 km) with elevation gain 5250 ft (1600 m) and it took me 6 hours to make it to the top and 4 hour to come back. 2.5 liters of water was just enough for the hike. Back home at 7:30 pm.