Eli: I wasn't sure if we'd actually get away today. The last minute chores and errands seemed to multiply in the morning more rapidly than the thunderstorms around Calgary in the afternoon.
When the running around was finished, weather and weight preoccupied me until takeoff. Weather because the thunderstorms caused by the clash of cool and warm weather systems threatened to yet again erect an insurmountable wall of convective activity along the eastern slope of the Continental Divide. Weight, because in our efforts to be prepared for just about contingency, it seemed at one point we were approaching the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft.
Weight and balance is very important to a small plane. If the aircraft is overweight and if its load, is improperly positioned (even if it is underweight) a stall, an inability to climb, or even strutural failure and loss of control may result. Anyway, with a little pruning we were able to lighten ourselves to be comfortably within our performance envelope, even with full tanks.
In the end, we decided to at least get a couple of hundred nautical miles under our belts and headed to Williams Lake where the thunderstorms weren't a concern.
Bren: Thanks to our friends Brian and Bo for sending us off at YVR and for taking great photos of our last minute preparations. I'll post them on here for folks to check out. Brian is a police officer with VPD policeman(he was actually the person who introduced Eli and I) but he freelances as a professional photographer when he isn't organizing the police bikes for the Olympics. It was nice to have a send off, and Bo even cleaned our airplane's windows for us!
Flying to Williams Lake began beautifully. ATC sent us parallel to Indian Arm (home base) and the mountains we look out at all the time are even more gorgeous up close. There were lots of little alpine lakes and still quite a lot of snow and ice. Things changed about half way into the 1:40 minute flight, we flew into smog from the fires. I still have a sore throat and my eyes got a bit itchy. It's amazing how much haze there is, even at 14,000 feet. No fun. It's been such a rough fire season.
Tomorrow we cross the Rockies. The main concern is conductive activity. No one in the weather office can remember having thunderstorms as Northern and as frequently and as violently as we have had them this summer. So we remain at the mercy of the weather and detailed, cautious planning.
Thank goodness for excellent weather briefers!
Plan for Day Two
CYQU (Grande Prarie) - CYPE (Peace River) - CYMM (Fort McMurray) - CYSF (Stony Rapids)
Over and out.