U.S. Vaca Part 2

It was a 2.5 day drive to Salt Lake City Utah, long but totally worth it. I arrived at Point of the Mountain. This place is one of America’s best flying sites due to the consistent weather patterns every day. It is an awesome place to get your license.

There are 2 flying sites at this location. South and North side. The South side is flown in the mornings because the wind blows just right every morning. All of us bums camp out on the South side right behind the ridge.
View of South Side from the bottom.
My setup: tent, portable stove, food in the trunk… living like a king!

The South side is an awesome ridge to fly but can get VERY crowded quickly, especially on the weekends. I’ve personally witnessed 32 gliders on the ridge one morning! That does pose a huge risk for mid air collisions. Usually I do not fly until the traffic eases up because of a couple close calls I had.

Now, on to the North Side. This place is flyable in the late afternoons almost every day. It has 2 ridges. One small one below and a large 1000 ft ridge behind that stretches for 1 mile. We fly along the small one first, catch a good updraft or thermal and “bench up” to the higher ridge. The views are amazing and the air is usually very calm with amazing Glass Off effects (highly smooth and buoyant air). There are sometimes 50 paragliders out there with plenty of room on the ridge for everyone.
Here is a pic of the North Side with the small ridge in front.
I like this pic. It reminds me of the story of Icarus when he flew too close to the sun.
Here is a video clip of the North Side at the end of the day: North Side

There was a day when a crazy high pressure system moved into the area bringing about insane gusts of 60 mph, dust and rain. I was on the North Side when I saw the thunderstorm moving in. Everyone got down  down from the air quickly. I jumped into my car and drove to my camp site ASAP.

067That is all dust, not fog or rain .

I arrived at my tent site in the nick of time. My next step was to jump into the tent. Brace my body against the wall, and hope my tent didn’t collapse under the 60 mph gusts.
Here is a short video. The quality is horrible because I was trying to brace my body and arms against the windward side but you get the point: Crazy weather!

The next day was a no go for flying. The weather was all out of wack. This is what the North Side looks like when the wind is blowing from the wrong side. Not a soul to be seen.

Now, time for a reality check. It may seem that I fly out there all day long but that is not the case. I fly only in the mornings and evenings with the middle part of the day too turbulent to fly safely. It gets well above 90 degrees  causing the air to boil with intense thermals. I was foolish to fly in the afternoon once and let me tell you, I did a lot of praying for a safe descent when my glider was tossed around like a rag in turbulent air. Scary experience! So, a large part of the day is spent relaxing and trying to keep boredom at bay. That means a lot of reading, watching paragliding videos to improve techniques, and occasionally going out on short adventures. Mountain biking and exploring the surrounding Utah landscape is a great way of killing time.
Local paragliders suggested I check out Timpanogos Caves.
Its a short drive and only $8. The 1.5 mile hike is on a paved path and has great views.

Now the other place you absolutely have to visit is 1 hour outside of Salt Lake City. This place is truly a gem in the wilderness: Fifth Water Hotsprings.
The next 5 pics are from google images:
Yes, the water is really that blue as you see in the pics. There are many man made hot tubs in a quarter mile section with several waterfalls in between these hot tub areas. Simply beautiful location! 2.5 mile hike in on a smooth trail.

The pic with the dog is the best location. It is the last set of hot tubs up the stream. The stream in this location is ice cold and is perfect for cooling off after a nice warm soak. I had no issues being out here in late summer, but of course would have preferred the middle of winter for the optimal experience.
As for camping locations, don’t pay $21 for a camping spot. Simply drive past the parking area and the next 4 miles are packed with road side camping spots next to a stream.
Well, that’s about it for now. More to come in the near future.