Traversing the North Cascades

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While most of the Evergreen members were tryng to make a favorable impression on Sunday August 23 about our flight operations on our guests from the Soaring Safety Foundaton (Tony Condon and Adam Kite) or enduring a gruelling 4 hour board meeting, Ron Clark and Brad Hill took long tows into the Cascades to make another exploration of the North Cascades. Ron Clark made yet again a noteworthy flight with 414 OLC points (best in Region 8 for the day) and agreed to provide the following report. Just don't believe it is as easy as Ron descibes it!

So here is Ron's report:

Saturday August 23 turned out far better than expected, with average 9-10,000 ft cloudbases and consistent thermals allowing for unseasonably long flights into the North Cascades. Brad and I took long tows to get underway in soarable conditions in the foohills. Brad went to Mount Ditney, while I took a longer tow to the Northeast. There was not a bump all the way to the first Cu at Deer Peak where I released into light lift immediately off tow. Surveying the conditions to the Northeast I made for Finney Peak and got a good climb and crossed the Sauk River to Illabot Peaks. I climbed about 1,800 ft there and decided the cloud street pointing North from Sauk Mountain to the Pickett Range was better defined so I changed course a bit and crossed the Skagit east of Sauk Mountain. After a short search I finally got a good climb north of Sauk Mountain and continued toward the extremely rugged and awesome mountains in the vicinity of Bacon Peak. This area provides, in my opinion, some of the best views available anywhere. The lakes here are inaccessible and wild with a marble blue color that is gorgeous to behold. The panorama here includes Shuksan, Mt. Baker, the North Cascades, Pudget Sound, the San Juans in the distance, Canadian peaks forever, Baker Lake and the Pickett Range.

Flying fairly low along Berdeen Lake while keeping the Bacon Creek drainage close at hand allowed some picture taking and general sightseeing.

Bardeen Lake

Bardeen LakeEventually, some good streeting here allowed a leisurely cruise along the Picketts and Mt. Fury with Ross Lake coming into view. This was new country for me, having not been this far north on the west side of Ross Lake. I crossed about halfway up the lake and turned right for Crater Mountain with its nice looking clouds. The conditions were becoming favorable for a glide to the Golden Horn, which would ensure a safe glide down the upper stretch of the Methow River into the aptly named Lost River airfield.

Flight track

Flight TrackContinuing along a nice street at 10,000 feet I noticed the clouds were getting darker and more ominous looking ahead. Not wanting to ruin what had so far been a fun flight by getting struck by lightning, I decided to turn around near Oval Peak. Retracing my path I knew I could cut the corner to El Dorado Peak if I stayed high. Making the corner with room to spare I now had an easy cruise along the crest of the Cascades to Glacier Peak. Finding only sink along the upper slopes of the big volcano I determined it was time to go home with the conditions starting to deteriorate. I took a big curving route South of Sloan Peak over Sheep Mountain to Three Fingers. Getting a climb under the last visible Cu at Mt. Bullon, I took it as high as possible for a final glide home via Deer Peak to close my triangle. Taking a "slower is better than landing out" strategy, I cruised home with altitude to spare. I hope August has some more surprises up its sleeve.

Congrats to Brad on his great flight down the Cascade Crest, and thanks to Phil for the long tow.