Claire Garnesson: going beyond hike-and-fly!
Over the weekend of 23-24 July 2022, in the middle of a heatwave in France, Team Pilot Claire garnesson hiked and flew all day completing 2,700m of ascent on foot and flying 100km.
Over to Claire:
This weekend I set myself an ambitious hike and fly mission. The goal was to hike up three summits (2,700m altitude gain) and fly 100k in a day. Spoiler: it was a success!
I won't lie. It was hard. But my fellow little Riot was up for it. The day started very early before sunrise with a nice hike in the forest. The sun wasn't shining yet but it was already very hot (too hot). On the way up I was slowed down by tiny red speed bumps. (The ground was covered with perfectly ripe wild raspberries! Yummy!) The first 1,000m was easy. I was rewarded with a beautiful yellow grassy take-off bathed in the early morning light. And a very peaceful glide down to the bottom of the next mountain.
Second hike up, another 700m climb. I started regretting not taking more water. The river I had seen on the map was completely dry. I made it to the top with a light headache. There, three really curious (and annoying) goats where waiting for me. They monitored every step of me getting ready to fly. I was a bit nervous about this take-off, cliffs on two sides, I was afraid the wind wouldn't be in the right direction. Lucky day, everything went smoothly! I love it when things work out like this. It felt good to be in the air again to get a bit of coolness. (Note to myself: don't plan that kind of adventure when the forecast says "heatwave").
The beginning of the flight was really nice, good thermals, I wasn't expecting to launch that early. And then it got... scary. 12pm, flying backward behind a super strong thermal, then +5 m/s and it's not even the strongest part of the day! Am I sure this is a good idea? I'm lightweight under a B wing, try not to do anything stupid ... I was aiming for a landing and got myself into a nice and consistent climbing line. +500m, no turn. Ok let's continue then. The air felt better. I kept going. The flight was the exact opposite of nice and smooth. Some crazy climbs at times, falling asleep in some areas where literally nothing was happening ?? and brutal waking up by some 'no-control-of-direction-right-now-type-of-thermals'... Anyway, an interesting flight. I'm still amazed at how my long-time favourite flying companion (the Riot) reacts so well in this craziness!
Somehow I managed to fly where I wanted, and come back. Now I could either land next to the car, or hike another 1,000m in the heat. For some strange reason I chose the second option. Landed, knocked on the door of the first house I saw, asked for water (thank you lovely people!) and got myself into trouble by climbing a ''vertical kilometre'' knowing that if I didn't make it to the top before 9pm it would be too late to fly down. So I pushed. And pushed more. And made it to the top right on time for a perfect sunset. Shiny red ball disappearing behind the mountains in the far distance. Quite windy for a late evening. I was ready to launch in 4 minutes. Hurry up, hurry up! It's too bad I didn't have time for a nice soaring session. Speed-bar towards my car, 360 and landed 3min before aeronautical night, in a dark field. I'm happy I had checked the position of the power lines the previous week because it was too dark to see them.
Wow! What a day!
All that was left was to pack up and drive home. And that was the hardest part of it all!