October 22, 2013
Fly Camping in Central Utah
So I enjoy camping, and I enjoy paragliding, and a very small niche of people have started combining the two into a sport called Fly Camping. Or “Vol Biv” in French, which sounds a bit more exotic. In other words, you carry everything you need to camp in your harness, and then after you fly somewhere, you land on a mountaintop, camp for the night, and fly off again the next day. Finding the right weather for paragliding two or more days in a row is the key…getting stranded on a mountaintop and having to walk down is kinda a buzzkill.
I suppose this could be combined with Hike and Fly, which is where you hike up a mountain to launch your paraglider. But by adding all the gear for camping, your pack gets rather heavy so you may want to pick a smaller mountain to launch from than normal!
So I'm getting my gear together to do some Vol Biv, although it is rather late in the season and winter is approaching. But there are a few chances left this year, and I was just down at the Red Rocks Fly-In for an informal pilot get together. The weather was warm right when I arrived, so I took an opportunity to do some combined flying and camping right away. On the first afternoon of the Fly-In, we headed up to Cove Launch southeast of Richfield for an afternoon glass off. I had my brand new Advance Lightness Pod harness packed with all of my camping gear, namely tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food, stove and flashlight, among other small things. It was stuffed...but still almost lighter than other harnesses I've flown empty!
The afternoon wind was strong and we launched quite late. I soared high above launch and decided that the best place to camp (and the safest for my first try) was launch itself, which had a large area where I could top land, and then perhaps fly with the group again in the morning if they came up for a morning sled ride. So although it wasn't very purist, I top-landed on Cove while there were still vehicles and a few pilots on launch. They finally left and I was alone on the mountain, under darkening starry skies and light winds. It was quite warm and the stars were brighter than anything I'd seen lately.
My camping kit kept me quite warm for the night, although lacking a tent it did get a little chilly. So I pulled my wing over me and used the insulation from the fabric to add a few degrees of warmth. My camp was a little rocky under my thin sleeping mat...I had chosen it in the near dark and preferably I would search a little more in the future!
The next morning was clear and bright and a little windy, but it died off to nothing. I didn't want to wait all morning for the thermals to start up, so I just took a sled ride down to the landing zone where my car was waiting for me. Perfect! I'm heading to Iquique, Chile in a few weeks, and I'm gonna try it again there...at least down in the desert I don't have to worry about getting rained on!