Mussel Rock, Pacifica, 11-13 mph WNW. 2:00pm
Reverse launch from Lemmings. I got started fairly far back and fumbled a bit kiting to the front of launch. Dropped it when I unloaded (looking up just after turning forward). Launched cleanly on my second go, turned north low over the Steps and found a bit of lift but turned back as I was a little low. Returned to the Steps higher than I left so I headed north again. Ventured further this time and found lots of lift in front of the NW-facing slide. A few more passes and topped out about fifty feet above the cliffs.
After 15 mintues or so, headed back south and flew in front of Walker ridge for a bit. Shared the sky with four to six paragliders and a couple of hanggies.
At 48:45 I head slightly away from the ridge intending to lose height with a high banked 360. There is a blue glider significantly lower (100′?) and well behind me. At 48:50 I look left, right and left again. At 49:06 I check left and notice the blue glider is still well below me and inland, near Walker ridge. At 49:11 I pull the right brake deeply and weightshift into a tight turn. My eyes are mostly on the ground. About 270 degrees through the turn I see the blue glider is much closer to me in altitude and we are now facing each other, about 100 yards apart. The other pilot turned sharply to his left, away from me and I applied left brake while slowly releasing the right to come out of my turn. I was still high enough that had our paths crossed I would have cleared him vertically. But I was startled to find him there but only have myself to blame. If my eyes had been looking where I was going to be instead of at the ground, I would have aborted the turn earlier. And, in hindsight, the air was too crowded for me to be making dramatic moves. I decided it was time to land.
I did some steep figure 8s over the plateau and landed gently just off the top gravel road, facing south.
- Unloaded the wing while kiting looking up at it.
- Lost track of gliders in the air as I watched the ground, ended up on dangerous heading.