A somewhat cursory look into the weather for our arrival and our plans consisted of one truth. As foretold by our elders, be home by noon. So that was our plan. Wake early, breakdown camp, and blast south. Stuffing as much into our Cubs prior to retiring to our tents, we planned an 0600 departure from Upper Loon direct to Challis, then to American Falls onto South Valley / Spanish Fork.
Mother Nature had one, two, three, maybe four more treats for us. Josh had to make the comment “I wish we could see wind” because around 2 am or so, we may not have seen it, but surely we heard it. I thought about packing my rain fly away and sleeping under the mesh to enjoy the night skies, but elected not to, and thankfully, those 2 am winds came with a vengeance and made me wish I had staked down the guy lines on my fly. Shortly thereafter rain in varying intensities (it always sounds worse inside the tent / snare drum) came in brief intervals and made me wonder if there was yet one more night camping in our itinerary.
Departing before the sun had a moment to heat the east-facing ridges, free lift came sporadically in the early morn. Challis has a way of testing my tried and true hand propping techniques. Thankfully a Super Cub parked at idle in front of me cooled me down between bouts of engaging both channels of my starting system (read: left and right arms) while I use every trick in my book to wish I sprang for a Marvel carb instead of this leaking Stromberg one from a lawnmower.
Up until reaching the Arco-Kimama Desert we thanked Mel for a nice smooth 10-20 miles per hour on the tail. Remnants of whatever rained on us earlier that morning was moving out of our way when we began to realize the awkwardly warm morning at Upper Loon (low recorded to be 59.8° F at sunup) was a sign that it was going to be hot. With the welcoming of 5G, updated TAFs for SLC and PVU told two different tales; I would be enjoying a challenging landing and Josh would be lucky.
Turns out we were both wrong.
It wasn’t the landing. It was the taxiing. I’ve never worked so hard taxiing in my life. And Josh got the crosswind he’s been dreaming of. Lucky for him a crosswind runway used to park airplanes on gave him a solid Plan B. And thanks to the help of one of our line gals at the FBO, I was able to run from my plane to open the hangar door while the winds appeared to accelerate between the hangar rows and take nearly 750 pounds off of the Cub.
The longest stretch of flying in the backcountry so far provided me many opportunities to field test my gear, evaluate what I previously assumed to be the bare necessities, and spend these precious moments selfishly selfless. While work takes the majority of the rest of my month away, I’ll be living off of the highs of this last week for a long time, preparing myself both mentally and physically for the journeys to come.