So close, one could taste the lakeside landing zone (LZ). That was how yesterdays coached paragliding flight with Pete Thompson ended. So close, yet not high enough to make the final transition to the lakeside. Instead I had to settle for landing at the Casa Veijas LZ and cab it back to town with one of the Norwegian contingent.
Today failure (landing short) is not an option, we will make the lake.
After meeting up with Pete, Becky, and Andrew at the Santa Maria church on the south side of town, we ride share a cab up to launch. Pre-negotiating the price is key as the rates can vary significantly – we have seen drivers demand 200 pesos / pilot at the high end down to a car load costing little more than 150 pesos for a group of four. Pushing back a little on the driver can net a median price of about 200 pesos for a full cab.
Up top, the plan is similar to yesterdays – Becky will launch first and thermal about. When things start to spice up, Becky will land and then Pete and I will head out. The winds do not favor a direct over the back approach today, instead we will need to head up and over the Mesa to the northwest of launch. This will require a transition to El Penon and then the Wall. Once over the Wall and onto the Mesa, we can intersect the convergence and ride it to San Agustine and then the lake.
Like yesterday, we choose to wait until the main body of pilots launch and fail to foresee how significant an impact this decision will have.
Pete lends a hand as I set up and launch. While I do find a climb, it is neither as cohesive nor as strong as that which the main gaggle used to climb out and get away. Pete follows me shortly there after and discovers the same. The next hour is filled with a near continuous string of low saves. Failure was not an option.
Tenacity pays off and we finally manage to climb out. A bee-line for El Penon follows. We push past El Penon and proceed to the Wall to find a quick climb out. Once on the Mesa, the flight becomes childs pay and the lake is soon not only within sight but well within glide (with a lot of altitude to spare).
Keeping in mind Petes guidance regarding slotting in between tandem gaggles, I set up to land as Pete touches down. Pete quickly jumps back onto the radio to help ensure that my landing is picture perfect (and dry).
Summary of the day: Ecstatic would be an understatement.