Parawaiting in Austria.

img_4840
There’s an LZ down there somewhere, a little to the right…

I headed up the cable car at Gerlitzen this morning even though I was pretty sure there’d be some waiting to do before it was clear enough to fly. Sure enough, beautiful, fluffy white clouds sat just below launch. It was fun to watch them move, grow, fade, and new ones move in to take their place. One good thing about parawaiting in Europe at the top of a cable car is coffee! It only took one cup for launch to clear and we were able to fly for the rest of the day!

img_4796-1
Somebody loves me 😉

Slovenia.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-15-45-17
Lake Bohinj. The water was crystal clear and extra refreshing!

We had a few rainy days forecast in Gerlitzen. I hung out at the bottom of the mountain for part of the day, waiting to see if the rain would stop and the clouds would lift enough to allow for a few flights, but by mid-afternoon it was pretty obvious the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. I’d read about Lake Bohinj as a paragliding site, and the pictures I’d found online looked pretty amazing. I was scrolling through google maps, looking for places reasonably close to drive to for some rainy day exploration, and found that Lake Bohinj was only a little over an hour from where I was. It also appeared to be sunny there, at least for the rest of the afternoon, so off I went! Here are a few photos from my 16 hours in Slovenia. 🙂

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-15-45-32
Sava Bohinjka is the creek that supplies Lake Bohinj with its crystal clear water. It was fun to watch the fish swim around.
screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-15-45-04
Slap Savica (slap = waterfall in Slovenian).
screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-15-45-44
Blejsko jezero. Lake Bled in the town of Bled, Slovenia, looking out at the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria (In Slovenian: Cerkev Marijinega Vnebovzetja)! Behind the church up on the hill is Bled Castle.

 

North to Alaska.

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-19-21-08
Sunset at 10pm over Kenai Lake.

As part of my preparation for my trip to Europe, I first made a trip to Alaska with Luke and Indy. Indy came along because my dad agreed to watch her for the five weeks I’d be in Italy. It also happened to coincide with the weekend of my sister’s birthday, so we spent a couple days camping at Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing with the whole family. We did a bunch of hiking and ate s’mores around the campfire every night. It was pretty rainy, but most of the rain managed to fall at night, which worked out well. Here are some pictures!

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-19-20-29
From left to right: Indy, Rebel, and Raspus. The expression on Rebel’s little puppy face is priceless!
screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-19-21-30
Lots of rain means lots of fungus.
screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-19-20-54
Amanita muscaria. Don’t eat this guy.

Luke, my mom, and I stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on our way back to Anchorage. I’d never been, but had always wanted to go. My favorite was this bear, who liked to scratch her back on the dead trees in her enclosure.

Chelan Nationals.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.10.07
Some of the Enzo 2s headed out across the flats. Wish I could claim ownership of this picture, but I can’t 🙂 Photo by: Brad Gunnuscio

Two weeks after Rat Race it was time to head to Chelan, Washington, to compete at the Chelan Nationals. This competition is known for putting up some big tasks, and rumor had it that they were out to beat the record for the longest, successful competition task, previously set by the Chelan comp back in 2014 and recently broken in Australia at the Manila Open with a 214km task in which only 2 pilots made goal. Chelan certainly delivered, and on July 15th, an amazing 64 pilots made goal in a 224km task! I even got a little mention in XC Magazine’s write up of the task, finishing heartbreakingly close to goal (2.2km short).

Overall, the competition was a success for me; I destroyed my previous best distance flights and learned so much! I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to compete… maybe Mexico in January?! I’m going to create a post for each day to make things more readable and include photos and links to tracklogs–check out these and other flights of mine at the Leonardo Flight Database.

the Rat Race.

IMG_3784
Chasing the gaggle over Ruch, Oregon. Photo by TJ Sopher.

I decided to (finally) go to the Rat Race. It’s an annual paragliding competition held in Ruch, Oregon, and friends have been trying to get me to go since I started paragliding. Sometimes work has gotten in the way, sometimes money (or lack of), but this year, it all worked out. It was my first competition as a paying competitor (I went to one in California last fall and one in Mexico last winter). I’d always just ‘wind tech-ed’ before, which is code for launch early to allow the actual racers to see if the thermals are working yet. My previous experiences mostly resulted in me standing on the ground looking up at the racers flying over my head. I was pretty nervous headed to the Rat Race because I had no idea what it would be like, and was worried that the same scenario would repeat itself, except that I would have paid $600 for the privilege of short flights followed by standing on the ground watching racers fly overhead. In short, I shouldn’t have worried. There were two VERY windy days which resulted in short flights for me, but I also was able to make it to goal on three days!!!!! And, got within 2km of goal on one of the longer tasks, flying 73km, besting my own personal distance by one or two km. A week of flying every day is tougher than it sounds–being alert and focused mentally for one to four hours in the air every day is draining. Overall, I was very happy with the experience, which included 26 hours of flight time, 2nd place in the women’s class and 9th in the sport class! Here are some more pictures from the week:

IMG_3710
Morning hammock time before heading up to launch.
IMG_3746
Sunset from my tent in Ruch at the Crash Pad.
IMG_3758
Flying in to goal at Longsword Vineyard on the last day!
IMG_3684
Local flora.
IMG_3697
Pre-competition rain day made the old trees shine with all kinds of colors!
IMG_3787
Bianca (1st), me (2nd), and Lisa (3rd)! Photo from TJ Sopher, wine from Longsword Vineyard. 🙂

Mason Lake hike.

IMG_3444
The fog/mist/low clouds offered some really cool light for photos.

No work and a little rain also means no flying. I decided to take Indy up Snoqualmie Pass to explore Ira Springs Trail towards Mason Lake. Even though most of the hike was in the clouds/fog, I still had a good time wandering through the misty forest, and Indy and I made the 6.5 mile round-trip hike to Mason Lake and back. Indy found some snow to roll in, which always makes her happy. It was fun to watch her realize the piles of white stuff was snow and then run to roll and play in it. I’m sure on a clear day the views up there are beautiful, but I still found some pretty things to look at 🙂

IMG_3441.jpg
Indy dog in the mist.
IMG_3442
The lovely, and practically invisible, Mason Lake.
IMG_3443
I loved all the different colors in this photo. Indy snuck in there on the left too, which always makes a picture better. 🙂

 

Seattle!

IMG_2987
Hello Seattle! View from the top floor of UW’s admin building where nursing orientation is held.

I’m now in Seattle for a 13 week contract to work in the Cardiothoracic ICU at the University of Washington Medical Center. I’ve chosen to live in Issaquah, about a 30 minute drive east of the city, since it’s much closer to flying and biking/dog walking trails. I’ll be here until June 18, unless I decide to stay a little longer. I’ve been through the ‘classroom’ portion of orientation at the hospital, and Indy and I have started to explore the trails near our house. I’ve also been able to fly a few times at Tiger Mountain. Here are a few pictures from the last week!

IMG_3040
It’s trillium season in the Pacific Northwest!
IMG_3041
Princess Indy.
IMG_3047
View of Mt Ranier from the air over launch at Tiger Mountain.
IMG_3037
Part of Grand Ridge Trail. The trailhead is a five minute walk from where I live!