SBSA Big Sur spring flying and camping – April 17th – 19th

The trip was this past weekend……how was it you ask….. hella fun awesome!  Several people showed up on Friday to fly and there were a handful of people who had been there since earlier in the week.  Friday turned out to be a pretty good day of flying.  I showed up at the LZ around noon, several people were already launching and climbing out high above launch.  There was a nice little gaggle going as I was making my way up to Launch.  Conditions were not quite as good by the time I launched but it was still good enough to soar for a while and the air was crisp and clear.  You could see a little hazy fog bank way off shore but the coast was completely clear to the North and South.   After we landed we setup our camp and it was pretty amazing to me that there were so many tents already up in the campground group sites.  A group of us headed back up for round 2 and got another nice little flight (Thanks to Brian for the ride up).  The wind had picked up from the N/NW and it was easy to soar the spine on the way out to the ridge with some thermals mixed in.  After we landed we headed back to the group sites, relaxed for a bit and then loaded up a van with around 10 people to catch the sunset flight from the launch above the campgrounds (Thanks Lua and Steven for the van and ride up).  It was really light cycles on launch and there was a group camped pretty much in the middle of launch but we all managed to get off and take an extended sledder down to the the LZ at Sand Dollar just in time to enjoy the sunset and a beer!  Friday night we had groups in the lower and upper group site and people were being social and mingling among the two fires.  We eventually had some music and a good campfire at the upper site.  I estimated there were probably about 45-50 people camping on Friday night with a few stragglers who came in late night.

Saturday we woke up to a fog bank (not unusual for Big Sur).  After everyone got some coffee and breakfast we motivated about a dozen people to hike to launch.   The rest the pilots loaded the vans and headed up to launch.   When we left the LZ to hike up to launch it was pretty chilly and everyone had on several layers, after we hiked up to about 800ft the fog broke and the heat was on.  The rest the hike was a beautiful with a nice layer of puffy clouds lining the coast.   We arrived on launch quite a bit later then the vans but just about the right timing for when the fog bank was starting to dissipate a little along the coastline.   Only issue was the random group that was camped on launch with their tents setup blocking us from using the whole launching area and not being very willing to move them.  The clouds were breathing in and out and we could see the LZ well enough to make the call to start launching.  The first few pilots made it look easy soaring and catching thermals off to the right of launch.  Wayne and LJ went left on their hang gliders, dived deep and climbed out on the back range.  Many pilots were able to launch and either climbed out or got the scenic sledder gliding out over the puffy clouds before finding the hole above the LZ.  Unfortunately several pilots got stuck when the fog bank decided to breath back in and end the day of flying in the mountains.  Fortunately, the ridge came on at the same time and many were able to drive down and go soaring until almost sunset.  This is a beautiful ridge right above sand dollar beach and can handle quite a few pilots being in the air together.   Saturday night we announce that the potluck would start at 7pm.  Wow is all I have to say!  The potluck was a huge success with some amazingly tasty food.  Great job to all the cooks out there!!!  There was an abundance of food for all with some crazy good desert to boot.  The campfire was raging early and Chad showed up with his bag of instruments to get everyone in the mood and playing something.  Ivan got the crowd started with “Don’t worry, be happy” and that pretty much set the tone for the rest the evening.  The lively crowd was singing and playing instruments while there was a light show going on above and in the trees.  Pretty amazing night!  From my random count around camp on Saturday night I estimated close to 70 people.   Good times for sure!  Ahhhhhhh Big Sur you never disappoint, such an amazing place.   Thanks to everyone who showed up, contributed, drove to launch, helped out, socialized and help to keep the vibe positive.  Much appreciated.  Hope to see you all for the fall Big Sur trip in early November.


-Jon Blake

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