I had been wanting to fly Brace Mountain (www.thebraceclub.com) ever since I first heard of it. Although it was pioneered by HG pilots many years go, these days it’s almost exclusively a PG site, due to the difficulty of getting gear up to launch. After a half-hour drive from the LZ to the parking behind the mountain, there’s a 1.75 mile hike with about 450 feet of climb to get to launch. I don’t mind a little effort in my flying, so since the forecast looked perfect, I announced that I was heading for Brace if anybody would join me. Jeff C. was up for it, so we hit the road reasonably early and arrived just as a couple of carloads of PG pilots were getting ready to head up. The trail goes through some sections where there’s dense mountain laurel on both sides, and it was in peak bloom.
I came with a plan. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of having the glider on my shoulder for the entire hike, and I don’t do very well carrying the glider and harness at the same time, so I brought my cart. This is the remains of a Cannondale Bugger bicycle trailer that my cousin used for delivering newspapers back in the 1970s, and that my family has found many other uses for in the intervening years. I had tried the cart once before, pulling my glider up to the 450′ launch at Morningside, so I knew that it should work in principle. In practice, it was excellent. I was the last one to leave the parking lot, since it took me a little extra time to get everything strapped down, and then I was able to easily trot along and pass people. Once the path got steep at the end, the cart became less useful, and I took the gear off of it. One PG pilot offered to carry my harness, and another took one end of my glider to get up the steep section (PG pilots had also taken turns helping Jeff carry his glider).
There was a decent crowd at launch, mostly PG pilots, plus some hikers who stopped to watch the excitement. The wind was very light, so we took our time setting up the HGs, since the forecast was for it to pick up as the afternoon went on (and we hoped the sun heating the western face would help as well). Some of the PGs managed to get up nicely, and picked up substantial altitude, while others just boated around at ridge level for a while before sinking out. We waited until they were all launched before going ourselves.
The launch is a tricky, flat slot with bushes that look eager to grab a control bar, so we were apprehensive about launching with so little wind. We did both get into the air, although not for so long — I flew for 26 minutes and Jeff managed only about 12, I think. No ridge lift to speak of, the only thing going up was some elusive thermals, which got me up to almost 500 feet over launch.
Since the sun was going to be up for a long time (solstice and all), I hiked back up over the mountain to retrieve the car, stopping briefly at the top to watch a couple of PGs launch for a second time. it wasn’t an epic day for us in terms of airtime, but it worked out well enough in terms of learning our way around the site, and knowing what to expect when we go back (and I fully intend to go back).
flights: 1, airtime: 0:26