This weekend was a HUGE adventure for us and it had several very tense moments, including one point where we were flying at 11,500′ through the pass next to Mount Shasta and the engine of our small aircraft died completely.
It all started late last year, we had signed up for MTB Oregon, which is a great mountain biking event in Central Oregon (how great we had yet to discover). Simultaneously, I was working on getting a friend’s plane flying. Then it occurred to me. What if we could fly to the MTB Oregon Ride? So we set our plans in to motion and the result was an adventure we will not soon forget.
For the impatient you can check out the Photos Now.
Getting ready for the trip was a huge adventure in itself since at the beginning of the year I had the use of an aircraft that had been grounded for 15 years and I lacked the rating to fly it. At the last minute… literally on the day before we were supposed to leave I got the rating. Then, I had to somehow get 5 hours of time in the aircraft logged before leaving the next day at noon. So, on Wednesday evening a mini-marathon of airport hopping ensued. I was supposed to meet Big Larry at Reid Hillview and Joe (JayDedBee) at McClellan. I flew to Reid Hillview in San Jose and Gustine (at sunset) then returned to Stockton in the Dark which took care of about 1/3 of my required hours. Realizing that my Cross Country flying was totally out of practice, I got home and did some serious cramming so I could finish my required flying the next day safely.
Woke up and got to the airport around 8AM on Thursday to finish up before coming back to Stockton to pick up Fiona. Thursday morning, flew to Reid Hillview again, then Concord (got yelled at by the tower), McClellan, overflew Auburn (and the Foresthill Bridge), Salmon Falls, then flew to Calaveras (overflying Lake Hogan), fueled up and then flew to Stockton to pick up Fiona.
Crammed some lunch while Fiona packed the plane, then it was off to Reid Hillview to pick up BigLarry. Grabbed Larry and then up to McClellan and picked up Joe. From McClellan we opted to do a bit of sight seeing en-route so we cruised up to Auburn and I showed them the Auburn Ravine, Lake Clementine, the Foresthill Bridge, and the old Auburn dam site. We then headed in a northward direction. My weak Cross Country skills were showing again as we wandered a bit off course a few times but, generally (I think) everyone enjoyed the flight and the sites. Mount Shasta was phenominal and Crater Lake rocked.
We turned for Oakridge after Crater Lake and started descending from our altitude of around 11,000′. As you all know, when you go downhill things speed up a bit… When we came over the Hills Creek Lake dam we were going about 180MPH. We flew over camp at about 3000′ and waggled our wings at our earthbound cycling brethren took one look at the airstrip and I nearly crapped. We didn’t have to worry about which way the wind was blowing because there is really only one way in and one way out of that strip.
We circled around town much like a confused duck whose favorite pond has dried up, then came in for another go, this time a little slower. The landing was pretty ugly, we bounced twice and rolled off into the dirt but we were down, nothing was broken and no one was hurt. Just as we were taxing back to parking, Shiggy’s car rolls up. Surprisingly enough Larry and Joe were both content with the landing or too afraid to speak out at that point, I’m not sure. Even more surprising neither one sought out alternate transportation for the return trip.
The riding? Oh yeah, we rode bikes this weekend didn’t we.
Holy carp, talk about your awesome trails. Friday we rode the Alpine Loop from the Covered bridge, Saturday we snuck out of camp and rode Waldo Lake with the Lemurian Guy and BikinFoolForLife, and Sunday the capstone ride, Middlefork Trail. Wow, Wow, and Holy carp that was Awesome! I’ll put another post with pics up to highlight the rides because they deserve their own special place.
Exhausted and happy we took one last dinner at Mazatlan (awesome Mexican Food with great margaritas) and spent one final night. We woke up around 7AM, packed up our camps and Impy drove us to the airport (Big Big Thanks Impster). I was a little cautious because it was overcast but it was still VFR legal and the clouds were plenty high enough for us to fly under so we took off out over the valley, cruised over camp one last time to wave goodbye and then climbed like mad to get out of that little valley of singletrack bliss.
Our first stop was to be Cottage Grove, cheapest AV Gas in Oregon I think. Unfortunately, as soon as we got over the mountains everything west of the foothills was completely socked in. We flew over Cottage Grove and there wasn’t a chance we were getting through the solid bank of clouds (legally). So we headed south. I figured roughly that we had enough fuel to make it to Redding. We set out south from there. We ran the right fuel tank down to nearly empty then switched to the left which showed about 1/3 tank on the gauge. About 5 minutes after we took the shot with the snake on the plane there was a sound that turned me white… it was the sound of wind passing by the cockpit of the plane at 160 MPH unmasked by the roar of the 285 Horsepower Lycoming engine.
The engine was restarted quickly enough by switching to the other tank and we had plenty of altitude. Once we got through the pass we might have made it to Redding on the other tank but that was a zero margin of safety thing that none of us were excited about. Cut the power way back and we enjoyed some great views of Mount Shasta and the Weed area as we slowly spiralled down and landed safely in Weed and filled up. When we landed the fuel gauge on the left tank still showed 1/3 tank of fuel. When we openned the tank it was bone dry. We fueled up and the rest of the return trip was fairly uneventful.
It’s probably going to be a while before I embark on a trip this ambitious again. It was a great trip and even with the excitement it was worth every minute and every dollar spent (which was quite a bit). Enough Yakking, Check out the pictures.