As the late summer flying crept in, Kevin Hogan, Ryan Mullen, Anthony Marra, and myself began to make somewhat routinely weekend trips to the mountains to fly off local peaks. There's kind of an unwritten list of classic hike and flies in Washington and our goal was to check off as many as we could.
When the forecasts for the normal flying sites didn't look particularly exciting, we'd start a group text hashing out which mountains looked best to fly off instead. Kevin scanned Google Maps, sending us all screenshots with hand written notes that boxed out potential LZs and hazards we'd need to be wary of. For launch beta, we did our best to source information from pilot friends who had flown these peaks in the past.
Each morning started with a bacon and gouda sandwich from Starbucks and a quick walk of the LZs we'd sourced prior. When we agreed everything looked good, we left a rig behind, piling into one car and making our way to the trailhead. A sweaty and stunning hike through classic northwest scenery awaited us, as well as plenty of opportunities to play 'name that peak' and take bets on what the weather would be doing at the top.
After tagging the summit and establishing a launch, we observed the weather and communicated what we were seeing, verbalizing a flight plan to get on the same page. Once launched, we got the opportunity to surf cliff faces, hover over meadows, and explore from the sky a piece of terrain that not a lot of people get to see.
After landing, each outing usually concluded with a burger or pizza and some beer together -- stoked, happy, and hungry for the next trip to come. Some of the best trips are right out the back door– hiding right underneath your nose. It turns out that with good company, a stellar backdrop, and a little creativity, the perfect summer day is rarely out of reach.