05 July 2015

///A:GAIN




Nine months ago, in September 2014, I was lying on the side of a ten-thousand-foot desert mountain in Turkey, unable to move, struggling to breath. People rescued me, people I knew, people I didn’t. Alone in a Turkish hospital, watching the shadows of objects in my room arc across the floor from dawn to dusk, each day, for weeks, in agony and gratitude, I thought about how death is easy, surviving is difficult. One morning, a bird landed on my window sill, sang for a few moments, then flew away. From that moment, I felt an intense resolve.

For five months, I was unable to walk. Each day, hours of excruciating physiotherapy and training. Pain was my shadow. When I was alone at night, I cried. Then, slowly, steps. Gently. Inside I screamed in rage. More months, winter passed.

I started flying again. Tentatively. Many flights later, on this day, I realized that I was physically and mentally ready to compete again. It was a simple flight with friends: a bright blue sky, beautiful mountains, and rough thermals. With new next-level flying and filming gear, for the first time in over a year, I felt motivated to film again.

21 September 2014

Paragliding World Cup Superfinal

Desert flower
Task One was cancelled due to unsafe conditions for launching. We had a nearly constant tailwind on launch and a few wind dummies, who successfully launched during short breaks in the tailwind, could not climb above launch height.

Launch
Stable conditions during the second and last practice day produced light thermal and leeside conditions. The air was textured but still enjoyable.

Chilli
It was too windy to fly on the first of two practice days. Instead, we explored Pamukkale.

Denizli
Twenty seven hours later, home feels far away.

Dawn departure

The morning sun arrives, lingering fog retreats, and I begin the long journey to Denizli, Turkey.

Last test flight at Grouse Mountan

It is time. At some point, when there is nothing left to prepare, you have to leave. I cling to the relative comfort and certainties of home, wonder why I feel this incessant force pulling me towards the sky, and feel sad at the thought of leaving family and friends. When the time comes, I go anyways.

31 July 2014

Not There, Here.

Crown Mountain
'Just a short flight to test my harness.', I thought. My Gin Genie Race 3 had arrived and I was eager to fly it. My local site, Grouse Mountain, produced unexpectedly magical evening air that gifted me with an exploration into the deeper valleys, far from roads and landing fields. I had a rare close up view of Crown Mountain and even Mount Perrault at the deepest.

The return to civilization was tense, for a time, when I faced a headwind lower in a valley. With only steep rock faces and a sea of evergreen below me, I skipped my iPod Shuffle to a super chilled ambient downtempo track: High As We Might Be by Kalpataru Tree, from the album All Things Passing.

I breathed deeply, and focused on finding lift. 'You're not there, you're here. Fly this.', I reminded myself. In a challenging situation, I sometimes begin to fantasize about a situation less challenging, that I would prefer, than to give all of my attention to what is happening now. How did this happen? Why am I here? I wish I was not here. All useless questions.

I descended into a narrow gully. Still, my anxiety was fading, I was noticing the beauty around me, and enjoying the flight immensely. I was no longer trying to run for the exit, resisting the situation, wishing for something to be different. I was relaxed and therefore able to access my experience and skill, to manage the risks I had exposed myself to.

Patiently, I focused on improving my position, gradually. After some time, I suddenly realized that I was past the worst of it and would likely reach the main open valley. I was enjoying the flying so much that I hadn't noticed the transition from trapped to free. I was always free.


I find it euphoric to fly my paraglider over beautiful and rugged terrain and just giggle at how absurd it is that humans can do this kind of thing, just for fun. I also find it equally euphoric to return from this remote paradise, unscathed, to make goal, to land in a familiar field with children playing, covered in lush grass, close to home, and replay the magic in my mind as I pack my gear and leave across a dew covered field, as the Sun sets.

12 July 2014

Lillooet Glacier

Left: Capricorn Mountain Right: Lillooet Glacier
This is my most remote moment while flying a paraglider: the far end of a 120 km out-and-return flight.

Despite the cloudless sky and haze, turbulent thermals lifted me to 3000 metres. I moved from one peak to the next, into ever increasing remoteness. Without an engine, using only nature's energies, I smiled often during this magic carpet ride with my Boomerang 9.

The electric feeling of adventure, loneliness, exhilaration, peace, anticipation, and vulnerability, is difficult to describe adequately.

I can say that I am grateful for this day.

07 June 2014

Zorah Peak

Zorah Peak
A 80 km out-and-return paragliding flight from Upper MacKenzie launch near Pemberton, BC, Canada.

During the most remote part of the flight, I met Zorah Peak. Far from roads and landing fields, underneath lay only snow, rock, old forest, and a raging river. I shivered uncontrollably at cloudbase and felt a tingling tension low in the valleys.


But by evening I was back in Pemberton, packing up my wing in the warm grassy landing field, watching students having short practice flights, and smiling to myself about how amazing the flight had been, as the sun set.



Gin Boomerang 9

03 June 2014

Mount Cheam

Mount Cheam
The Halkomelem name for the peak, Theeth-uhl-kay, means "the source" or "the place from which the waters spring". For the Sto:lo, the peak is the "mother mountain" or old woman overlooking her children dwelling in the valley. Lady Peak, to the south is the old woman's dog. Cheam, the official name of the peak, is the Halkomelem word for "wild strawberries."

During a 60 km triangle paragliding flight in the Fraser Valley I had the opportunity to climb the north face of this majestic mountain.

11 February 2014

Never Come Down




A five-minute day dream into to the green, blue, and white sky para-dise. Filmed during the 2013 Paragliding World Cup Superfinal, in Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brasil.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the event, we got to race paragliders with our friends, through a magnificent sky. Two weeks, 50 hours, and 1000 km of celebrating this amazing sport!

11 November 2013

A Walk in the Garden



As the sun descended upon the horizon and shadows grew longer, I left on a flight deep into hidden valleys, over a sea of evergreen and rock. A few moments to clear my head, in this ordinary paradise.

17 October 2013

Cloud Forest

The Cloud Forest of the Ko'olau Mountain Range, O'ahu, Hawaii

16 September 2013

Araxá


Horizonte Perdido launch- 250 m above the valley

Cloud street
Crossing Rio Grande- the border between the state of Minas Gerais and the state of São Paulo

The last hour of a long flight
The last few minutes of a 170 km flight without retrieve

Dreamscape
Gavião nests in Ipê

Cavalos

O pôr do Sol
To have a beginning, is to have an end. Until next time.

27 August 2013

Canadian National Championship




2nd Torsten Siegel (GER) 1st Brett Hazlett (CAN) 3rd James Bradley (USA)