2009 By George Woodcock
This was probably the warmest weather I have seen in The Guadalupe Rim campout ever. Velma and I where only able to enjoy this beautiful, eventful bash for two days this year. We arrived on Saturday, February the 14th in the late afternoon. It had been flyable early that day, but was blown out by the time we got there. Still there were a lot of smiling faces to be seen, even though we had passed by two pilots on hwy 137 heading out as we where coming in. I understand that one of those pilots was Ed from Gunnison and an Albuquerque pilot, whom I don’t recall his name. Word was that they had logged flights for three days before we arrived, starting as early as Wednesday. Some of the flights where long, two hours or more with top landings and some short flights landing at the lower LZ. Erik Semrua from Phoenix and I had flown Dry Canyon in marginal conditions on Friday the 13th, but the Guads where soarable that day. Velma and I were greeted by several pilots on Saturday; Erik had arrived before us. Already camped out were the Texas guys Kent Robinson and Chris Chaney; Gunnison pilots Tony Brown and Pete(formally from Albuquerque; Albuquerque pilots Bill Lemon, Andrew Vanis, Dave Demill, John Nagavary, Mario Manzo and Steve Cortez. There was an English pilot there as well. It was unusual not to see Tony Sitts and Rusty Whitely from Gunnison, as they are always there.
Saturday evening the winds quieted down and we had a great evening of fine dining ( elk, duck, squash, etc.) and brewage consumption, not to mention the tales and experiences shared. It was a wonderful night enjoying the beautiful weather. Everybody there was grateful for Chris Chaney’s dedication to keeping a bonfire going, especially the exercise involved of moving their chairs forward and backwards from the fire pit. Nobody complained either night we there, not that I remember. LOL
Sunday morning was very warm with a light NE breeze. Velma and I visited with Mario and his friend Fran around their breakfast campfire next door. Pilots where up early as history tells us to do at the Guads in order to beat the higher winds. This year the winds stayed steady out of the NE and never got strong enough except to fly a few stunt kites. Around 10:00 with a light overcast and the conditions looking like they would not change most of the folks opted to set out for the artesian wells near Sitting Bull Falls. Kent was the main guide for this adventure even though people took different paths that way; some walking the 3 mile hike in from the Queen HWY. There was a short period of time when the winds started coming in out of the NW around 3 o’clock, which brought everybody racing back to the campground. The PG’s quickly set up near the rim at the camp, but to no avail. The winds slowly went from 10mph to zero at dusk. It was another great evening of Chris’s bonfire and friendship.
Monday the forecast was calling for a West wind to be blowout early, but the wind gods did not wake up until late in the day. We all headed for launch after breakfast, only to stand at launch waiting on the light North wind to change. Most of us left after 12:00 or 1:00, Velma and myself included. For those few who stayed, they got to fly. I understand Kent launched into a west wind before 2:00 working hard for an hour before landing at the bottom LZ. Three other pilots (Tony, Erik, and Pete) got in some great ridge soaring for an hour or so landing on top before the wind gods took over and blew the launch out. Those last three pilots left on Tuesday morning after a night of high winds. “The GUAD WINDS”. Still it was a very enjoyable weekend and week that we all know and love at the Guadalupe Rim!