Joe and Barb’s unexpected bonus

Barb and I went on a walk to Poo Poo Point via Chirico Trail yesterday.It was a little more elevation gain than we wanted (1760 ft.). But it was supposed to have a nice view at the top. The weather was nice so we decided to go for it. We figured we should leave the house before 9:00 AM to be able to get parking easily.

We arrived at the parking lot about 8:15 to find the lot full and the sides of the road filled with cars. “What’s going on?” [Grumble, grumble] We found a place a couple hundred yards away that let us park for $5.00. [Grumble, grumble]

We were at the trail head at 8:27 and saw people with radios who explained this was the landing zone for paragliders and to not dilly-dally around as we cross the zone. [Grumble, grumble]

The hike was more than I was really prepared for. I got winded easily and sweat profusely even though the temperature was in the low 60s. There were a lot of people on the trail. [Grumble, grumble.] It was a nice trail though:


We stopped to rest many times and it took us an hour and 45 minutes to make it to the top.

It was a nice view. It was a very nice view:


But there were all these people:


Oh. They were launching paragliders from here! Cool! No more grumbling.

This was an unexpected bonus. More pictures below the fold:

Mount Rainier, as the crow flies, is 46 miles away.IMG_5592Adjusted


Some people wore funny hats for their trip off of the mountain.


This guy’s hat (photo by Barb) wasn’t quite as odd, but he walked off the mountain instead of paragliding off. I think he is scared of heights:IMG_0476CroppedAdjusted

Another not so funny hat that walked off the mountain:IMG_5770

But I’ll bet she could have gotten a free ride if she had just smiled right at the shuttle driver:


There were a lot of dogs on the trail as well as people:IMG_5762

This is Poo Poo Point. This is about a quarter of a mile from where we saw them launching. Both sites are used depending on the wind conditions:

Bellevue is over 11 miles away from Poo Poo point:

It was really cool to see them launching:

The landings were pretty neat too:


About this time last year Barb and I had an unexpected adventure. This was a pleasant change in luck.


5 thoughts on “Joe and Barb’s unexpected bonus

  1. Nice pictures. I haven’t done paragliding but I’m a moderately experienced skydiver. I also have fear of heights. It turns out — for many people at least — that looking out of the door of an airplane doesn’t trigger the reaction. The theory is that it isn’t the distant ground that’s the problem: that just looks like a green or brown quilt. The problem is the connection between your position and the ground. Standing on a building, or cliff, or ladder, you have that connection. Looking out of an airplane you don’t.

  2. If you like, you can do a tandem paragliding adventure with those guys. I did that a couple years back, with a camera mounted to my helmet. I and my pilot (right word?) took off first, and I got footage of my wife and sister-in-law taking off after us. About thirty minutes in the air.

    I tell the story as, “That time I strapped myself to this dude and threw myself off a mountain…”

    • +1
      This is worth doing at least once. When I dream of flying, it’s usually levitation, and the tandem glide is a fine approximation of these dreams. You’re slung in front of the pilot and unless you look up at the wing or back over your shoulder, it’s like you’re soaring through the air without instrumentality. Just beautiful.

      Might be a problem if you have “control issues”, because you’re really, really not in control.

    • Similarly, the standard introduction to skydiving is a tandem skydive. A lot of people just do one of those and don’t take it further — my wife is one. Some decide this is so much fun they want to continue. But in any case, a tandem is great because it gives you most of the experience without all the training.

  3. I spent a couple of afternoon’s helping Marc Chirico and other paraglider pilots to build the “Chirico Trail.” Before it was improved to its current form, it was a steep, rooted up, unmarked way trail for glider pilots to hoof it to Poo Poo. After the pilots built the trail, it soon became populated by hikers – who often fill up the parking at the LZ.

    I have about 60 flights or so from the launch there. It’s a pretty cool place to fly, although the air can be almost as crowded as the ground. I think my longest flight was around 2 hours. People have launched from Poo Poo and flown cross country to Highway 2 and nearly to Crystal Mountain, when thermals are cooperative.

    I stopped flying years ago (it’s a pretty dangerous sport, actually) but have given consideration from time to time of buying a new wing and getting back into it. I’m sure there are some awesome places to launch into the Clearwater canyon around Orofino.

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