Mirko Reports on the 2004 Soar Utah Event

SAFARI TO SOAR UTAH 2004

Greg and I left Milwaukee late Monday afternoon, the 30th of August for our latest Safari with Salt Lake City as our final destination. We had plans to fly the Chamberlain, SD area, (depending on the wind direction) and wherever we could in Wyoming. We picked up Emil in Sioux Falls the next morning and headed over to the Missouri River, a two hour drive, just south of Chamberlain.

When we got there, we were greeted with no wind, and stifling heat. Temperatures would run into the 90s for the next several days until we got to Salt Lake City. I did a little hand tossing of my new PIXEL, testing the trim, and found it perfect. Emil, and Greg, were also launching with no results, so the three amigos decided to push on to other unexplored areas on the way to our final stop: Templetown, aka Salt Lake City.

We worked our way along I-90 westward and just after Kadoka, SD, we exited on state HWY 73 toward Philip, up to Billsburg, through Hartly, then still staying on 73 stopped above the Cheyenne River where we found bluffs facing west to north. This was before the descent to the bridge. It was a 50 to 100 yard walk to this face. Greg and Emil flew here for a while, but winds were light. After about an hour here we moved on to Howes where we continued on HWY 34 to White Owl, Enning, Union Center, then found a spot near where the road crossed the Belle Fourche River just around Volunteer. We called this spot “Junkyard hill,” due to a pile of junked cars near where Greg and Emil flew their planes while I languished near the van. On this day I found the heat too grim to fly, especially with such light winds.

After about a half hour of that we kept moving west on HWY 34 to Sturgis where we rejoined I-90 and headed on to Wyoming to Gillette, where we had supper, then finally to Buffalo, where we found a motel for the night.

The next morning, September 1st, while having breakfast in Buffalo, Greg noticed a big hill just outside of town. This was just west of Buffalo on HWY 16. We drove up a dirt road to a fairly good site, but again, the wind was inconsistent, and light. So we departed westward on HWY 16 for the southern pass of the Bighorn Mountains. Taking the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway over the Powder River pass, we finally came to a gravel parking area in Ten Sleep Canyon. Here we flew for about 45 minutes with a pretty decent wind coming up the canyon.

Next, we passed Worland, then moved on to Thermopolis and the Wind River Canyon. Here we found a dirt (what else!) road on BLM land leading to another series of bluffs overlooking a valley and the road below. Plenty of wind here but to me the lift was very uneven. Due to a hill about a half-a-mile across the valley, there was a lot of rotor coming in front of this 200 ft bluff. So we left here after about an hour, and moved on with all three of us giving different explanations for the uneven lift at this site.

It was mid-afternoon and we hit the road for Evanston, but on the way by way of HWY 20, to Shoshoni, then HWY 26 to Riverton, then Hwy 789 to Lander, and from there HWY 28, where 16 miles from Lander we found the best spot of this two day slope hunt. This was Red Canyon Rim. We pulled off the road and parked next to the guardrail; a barbed wire fence kept you from falling off the slope edge; there was a nice large flat landing zone to the left of our launching area, but on the other side of the fence. The wind was light but consistent from the NW. This slope should work WNW to NNW. Greg and Emil flew Weasels and Pixels while I took pictures. After flying for a while, we all wished that we would have found this spot earlier in the day. The light, late afternoon winds were producing great lift. Notable names adjacent to this area were Young Mountain, Limestone Mountain, and Iron Mountain. This was north of I-80 halfway between Rawlins and Rock Springs.

We rejoined I-80 at Rock Springs and went on to Evanston where we found a motel for the night. The next morning Thursday, we headed for Temple Town, about 80 miles away.

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