This past 4 day weekend 2 friends (Jackson and Jamie) and I headed to Chilliwack to go paragliding. Last year I had wanted to add some adventure to a trip to Langley for a wedding. After looking around I found this paragliding school that offered a two day school that taught you have to solo fly; FlyBC. Jackson has a similar level of thrill and adventure seek as I and was available and I had invited him to come out to join me last year. Due to a slue of complications we only got in 1 flight each. With the website quoting 3 to 5 flights we wrote to the owner, who was on vacation when we attended the school, and expressed our discontent. Jim graciously offered for us to come back and repeat the two day education at no additional cost. Once summer kicked off I had decided on this past weekend to take him up on the offer, roping Jamie into the adventure as well.
Thursday I kicked off the trip from Edmonton, driving down to my parents place in High River. After completing a few errands, meeting Jamie and picking up Jackson we were Chilliwack bound. Munchies in hand we left around 1pm.
On the way to Chilliwack we made a quick stop at Emerald Lake and The Natural Bridge. Emerald Lake is such a unique green lake that is a really pretty location in the mountains. Visiting there again made me want to come back with someone special and paddle around the lake in a canoe.
We arrived in Salmon Arm around 7pm local time (8pm MDT) and decided that would be a good place to stop for dinner. We had a great dinner at the Barley Station Brew Pub, a Salmon Arm local brewery. I had the Butter Chicken, Jamie the Lobster Mac & Cheese and Jackson the Beef dip; all excellent meals.
With a late arrival expected we had reserved a room at the Chilliwack Comfort Inn. The beds were decent, although a bit small and the shower was great. A nice clean room that was convenient, just what we needed.
Friday we made our way to Jims facility after getting some snacks/lunch. We arrived around 9:30am and it was still pretty miserable outside, Mother Nature trying to decide if it was going to rain. We kicked things off watching some instructional videos. After that we headed up into the loft of the barn and did some harness fitting and practice hanging. Following that we headed back downstairs for some theory breakdown on paragliding and how a wing flies and some of the physics behind it, some key terms too. Shortly after lunch things began to clear up and we were able to head out into the training field and get some kiting practice under our belts.
The weather continued to sway in our favour and we were able to get 1 flight in from the Woodside launch site, this launch site is within landing distance of Jims field.
Upon landing we were hopeful to get in a second flight. Unfortunately at that point the wind had died and changed direction on us and that second flight didn’t come to fruition. We were very glad to get one flight in on what started off as such a poor weather day.
Following that we headed back to Chilliwack to find a restaurant to eat at. When Jackson and I had come last year we had scoped out a Greek restaurant but they were closed the night we went to try and eat there. Attempt 2 at The Greek Islands Restaurant was more successful. We had another great meal here, I would highly recommend this restaurant. Jackson had arranged for us to spend the night at his cousins house tonight to save costs. We chatted with her for a little while after we arrived and then turned in for an early bed time.
Come morning we received very nice cards from her two children before we headed off to be at Jim’s place by 8am. With poor weather in the forecast we had anticipated needing to drive to Merritt first thing. Once we arrived this plan came to fruition and we made our way to Merritt. Since we were ultimately heading back to Calgary at some point after today we drove our vehicle and Jim took the other 3 students in his van with the gear. Once we made it to the the Merritt Visitor Center we hoped in the van and did some light off-roading in the near by hills to make it to an area that was suitable for launching our paralgiding wings. Using the skills we had learned I was first to launch off the hill, armed with a radio so that Jim could instruct us in the air. I had found a nice spot to land in a nearby hay field and had touched down before any of the others had taken off. By the time the others had launched the winds had changed slightly and they were treated to a longer flight then I. Jamie being so light in his harness was largely effected by the wind and taken much further down wind then the rest of us.
With the poor drizzly weather (and winds picking up above desired speeds) beginning to creep into Merritt we decided to make our way to Cache Creek to try out luck there. Once we arrived in Cache Creek the winds were no longer blowing in the desired direction. We headed further east to Savona. Here we setup shop at a much smaller hill that was adjacent to the lake. When we first arrived the winds were much too high to go airborne. After waiting it out a bit we were able to put in a few short flights attempting to ride the winds along the ridge line. I was too busy trying to fly that I didn’t get any photos of us but I managed to get a couple photos of some other paragliders at the site with much smaller wings, attempting to ride the ridge winds as well.
We finished paragliding around 6pm or so. We decided to make the push to High River. After a quick Fast Food dinner stop in Revelstoke Jackson and I tag teamed the drive to get us home to High River around 3am. A good couple day trip to BC to do some Paragliding.