Thursday, May 23 2020

Day 14

You may ask why we have included no day 13 post here. It isn’t for superstitious reasons, though perhaps it should be. No, day 13 was spent at the FBO in Bountiful, completely rewriting our route to include a diversion to Utah’s incredible national parks to the South, and then looking at the weather and immediately realizing there was no way we could safely traverse the valley passes to our destination that day. Winds gusting 50 knots wouldn’t make for a great mountain crossing experience. We’d really hyped each other up planning this new route and were excited to get going, so being grounded felt extra agonizing. Nonetheless, we headed back to the hotel and prepared to wait out the storm. Day 13 was a wash but we were also grateful that in almost two weeks of flying cross country, we’d only been weathered out for one day. We hoped that luck would hold the rest of way.

The morning of day 14 began with temps below freezing and sheets of icy rain, but as the sun climbed over the Great Salt Lake, things quickly began to look up. We packed our things and headed to the airport to fuel and depart and get started on our delayed adventure. Today was extra exciting because we were headed to shoot Zion National Park at sunset. Of all the places suggested to us across the entire country, Zion might top the charts for most recommended.

We took off from Bountiful and traversed through Salt Lake’s Bravo airspace to the South. Giant, snow capped crests towered over us to our left—the Wasatch Mountain range. After the weather the night before, more snow sat atop the peaks. There was a distinct line of green and white—you could see where the temperature atop the mountains fell below freezing.

As we continued South, right around Provo, we hit some clouds that ranged from broken to overcast right at our altitude. After attempting to climb above them, and realizing they were too high, we descended below them, after checking to make sure the altitude of the terrain along our route and the cloud ceilings wouldn’t pose a problem for us. All clear, we pressed on to Bryce Canyon Airport, where we had plans to land and fuel and prepare for our sunset flying. Once we arrived there, however, we discovered the density altitude was close to 9,500 feet, and decided against such a precarious landing. After circling for some photos of red rocks, we back tracked to Richfield, a lovely little empty field with a couple crew cars, the keys casually tossed in a drawer at the FBO.

I chose the Ford, and took it for a bit of a joyride, then headed into town to grab lunch from a little local Richfield cafe, “Little Wonder.” After enjoying some of Utah’s finest, we headed back to the airport to wait for the light, then hopped in the plane to head to Zion.

It was absolutely incredible descending into Zion, the red rock cavernous formations bursting out of the Earth with a stoic ferocity. The sun was sinking lower into the sky, casting a golden hue over the land and making flying above such a place feel magical and sacred.

After about 45 min circling above, we wrapped up shooting, and with freezing hands climbed to altitude to head home. We landed just as the sun sank below the horizon. Another solid, beautiful day.

Flight Path

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