High Hopes in the French Alps

Castajon to Ager

Hotel Plaza - Wonderwall!

The sky was changing rapidly this morning. We went down for breakfast to find that this little hotel is full of surprises! It feels like you’ve walked into ‘Wonderland‘  with a mild Tim Burton influence.  I was expecting the white rabbit to come scurrying through the breakfast area wittering on about how late he was! There were tea cups on the wall and it was all just animatedly lovely. Couldn’t resist taking a few more pictures before we stepped out into the reality that was an out of season small Spanish town. We were hoping against hope that at least one of the Paragliding establishments were open but no such luck, all closed for the season. So we were left with the co-operation of the lady on reception, and a tourist map to attempt to find the launch.

It didn’t look flyable, but we really wanted to find it,  just to have a look. There was no one around to ask and no one flying, so we were between us the blind leading the blind. After a couple of wrong turns  we caught sight of a stricken Paragliding sign, so we followed it, where it forked into two different tracks. We walked up the higher one, but to no avail, so headed back down. I couldn’t leave without trying  the lower track, we’d passed on the way up, it had to lead somewhere. ‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ so ’round a couple of ‘next bends’  I finally found what looked like a training hill, certainly not the higher one that we’ve seen on the YouTube vids but there it was, with the tell tale  sign of a windsock  gently wafting in a slight face breeze, and not the Mad Hatter’s tea party we were expecting! Not long after Dennis arrived, having caught a glimpse of the ‘Cheshire Cat’ er… windsock from a different viewpoint.

It would have been possible to fly down, the sky was looking a bit dark to do anything more than that, there wern’t any thermals to speak of, not this time of year, so we enjoyed the view, and satisfaction of finding the place.

Stricken Sign

We tried to decipher what we thought looked like a landing field, but again couldn’t be certain. It wasn’t a particularly high launch probably no more than 300 mts above. We drove down and checked it out. It was not obvious, and if either of us had decided to fly and land in the wrong field, some wire fence cutters would have been an asset!  even though I did consider a fly down I wasn’t convinced… of when it would start raining and how long it’d take Dennis to find me etc.  all too much hassle for what would have been nothing more than a 5 minute top to bottom.

Castejon de Sos is a lovely place and am sure great flying in season, there is a lot of potential everywhere you look.  The Hotel Plaza made it all worth while, and am glad we came just for that experience. It’s certainly somewhere we’d like to return and fly, preferably in season and from the higher launch area, with the added help of a local guide.

*          *          *

dark tumbling skies rolling in... en route to Ager

We chatted about what to do next considering the weather wasn’t getting any better, and came to the conclusion that as we were in Spain we may as well continue on to Ager.  A bendy road eventually led us on to a main road that brought us into Ager about 2½ hours later.

Again it was all closed for the season, but I wanted to see what I’d missed earlier in the year with the Women’s Open.  According to my friend Caroline who attended the competition, she said the ambience was really great but didn’t feel there were enough competitiors. Just got me thinking that maybe I ought to try and get some time off next year and contribute to the numbers.

Ager Ridge

It’s a very impressive long running ridge and I should imagine excellent flying. There were two levels of launch but unfortunately it was blown well out on both. When we arrived we met a group of  fellow countrymen at the lower launch, who incidentally found Tizzy a delight to play with, she wasn’t shunned like she had been since we arrived in Spain. It’s taken us three attempts before finding a dog-friendly establishment. Hotel Plaza exempt. One of the group had launched as wind dummy on a Mantra R10 and spent the whole flight gale hanging!  that was enough for the other pilots to wisely leave their gliders in their bags.  The forecast wind had arrived and if correct was set to stay and worsen. There was really no point in hanging around so we took a drive back down popping into the Observatory, which was due to open at 6pm,  all things considered due to the cloudy sky we wouldn’t have had  a decent view it’d have been like glimpsing stars through a partially threadbare blindfold so wasn’t worth it.

Ager, flying looks excellent, the road to take off is great, the parking more than ample, the launch area fabulous but the town lets it down a touch.  It appears like  a one horse deal and some free rolling tumbleweed would’nt have looked out of place!  Maybe I didn’t get to see it in its’s best light, there do seem to be some new builds about and I expect it’s a different place in season. The views from the top of the ridge were fantastic with possible flying routes leading off in various directions.

That was the extent of our Spanish Parasighting, so we headed back Northwards. Having been on the road with daylight rapidly diminishing we spent our last night in Spain in a town called Sort, which means ‘Luck’ apparently. We’d tried a couple of hotels but got the usual ‘No Dogs Allowed’ reaction until we were semi-successful in Sort. We got an ok room, in the 3* Hotel Pressets but felt shoved out of sight on the top floor in an attic room. We left Tizzy in the bus for a while, and went for a walk into the town where we had a beer in a Harley-Davidson bar, bit of a nice surprise.  Back at the Hotel we all settled down for a disturbed noisy nights sleep attempts.

October 29, 2010 - Posted by | Holiday

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