MIKE KOERNER’S LATEST 500-MILER

I flew to McDermitt, Oregon on Friday. SkySight predicted that would be the best day of the weekend with the potential for a flight to Rome State. 

I launched at 9:40 am, released in lift, and floated up with the top of the thermals until reaching 13K at 11 am, 1⁄2 hour before SkySight predicted I would be able to sustain at 8.5K over Mojave. 

The 8.5K proved elusive. I tried to climb 4 sisters (the ridge NW of Cache Creek) but with cold air pouring down through Tehachapi pass I was forced to retreat. Heading for Cal City, I opened the dump valve. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled into the 8.5 thermal and closed the valve after the first circle with most of the water still aboard (though it doesn’t seal completely after in-flight activations). 

The lift was much stronger past the rockpile north of Kelso but overdevelopment drove me off the Sierra abeam Coso, and then again, off the Whites abeam Tinemaha. Dark clouds and virga limited navigation to blue areas off the mountains. Though it was only 2 pm, I was ready to throw in the towel. I would have landed at Bishop but looking back I realized the storm cell I had gone around was building in that direction and would probably get there first. 

I picked a relatively clear passage toward Gabbs where I could see sunlight on the ground. Once there, the sky had cleared to where I could see overdevelopment to the east, a blue hole toward 

the northwest, and in between, straight to the north, a wonderful cloud street. 

I came under the last dying clouds of the day over McDermit. The ragged bases were high enough to get me to Rome State. But the lift was broken and weak and the climb was frustratingly slow… so I left. But with insufficient margin to make Rome, and no more lift in the offing, I was forced to turn back, landing at 7:30.