Amazing morning of flying today. First flight caught just a bubble, second flight caught a nice light thermal that took me back up over the launch, third flight caught thermal after thermal, probably reaching about 300 meters over launch.
Watched from above as the wind speed flag changed from green to yellow and kept going up, catching more thermals. Went in close to the launch for some light ridge soaring, but that bottomed out, so I headed in to make sure I’d make the landing. There I saw my buddy in a thermal over the LZ, ended up catching that one too, in part thanks to the massive crowd of chulos circling at the bottom. Hopped from that one to yet another with a few of the more experienced pilots, a big fat thermal that you could circle and circle – my biggest problem was fighting the urge to core it because I didn’t want to cut off the other guys.
Again got up about 300m above launch, what would have been cloud base on a low day. Had nothing but lift but heard on the radio that my buddies were waiting for me down in the landing zone, so pulled big ears to get down and catch a ride back up with them.
There was so much lift at this point that even with big ears I couldn’t get down. Choked up on the outside A lines a bit more and pulled even more dramatic big ears, but was still rising. Stuck with it though and finally found some sink, enjoyed doing figure eights to get down using weight shift alone.
Landed and found that one of my friends was at the top of a tree fixing the windsock there, and that there were so many pilots down in the landing zone that we couldn’t all fit in the van.
Climbed on top of the van, bringing my gear with me, and using my harness as a seat and my wing as a massive pillow, basked in the sun and the joy of my last flight.
My buddy Jack and several of the local pilots joined us up top, and as we drove up the hill my mind was completely clear – the flight and the weather had put me in a state of total bliss. As we came around one of the turns, Pablo, the local pilot who cooks lunch every day, pointed out an eagle. We see a lot of chulos (vultures) in the sky as we’re flying, apparently one even pecked at one of the girls’ harnesses when she was flying today. But seeing an eagle is much more rare, and feels special because the site’s named after them – Las Aguilas.
Almost more impressive, as we lounged there on the roof against our improvised bean bags, we saw Jessit, a young local pilot, up speck flying (flying so high and so distant that from the ground all you can make out is a speck), way over next to one of the distant mountains that I know only as a backdrop on the horizon. Made me excited to start working on my cross-country skills. Right now I know what this valley looks like from 600m up, I’ve seen the swimming pools and the shacks, the mansions and the pig farms, but I’d love to see what lies beyond, discovering what I can reach catching the next thermal to cloud base and then the next and the next.
Still a beautiful day out there, so I’m gonna grab some lunch and then lie in the sun by the pool. Might be heading to Roldanillo tomorrow, home of the Colombian paragliding cup. With conditions like these though, it’s going to be hard to leave Las Aguilas behind.