Friday, June 01, 2012
Greater on the Way Back
We're heading back across the mountains now, down at 9,500' because it's a beautiful smooth day and why suck bottled oxygen through my nose when I can breathe fresh, mountain air below ten thousand? It looks like this outside. Everywhere. The photo doesn't capture the shiny sparkles on the mountain peaks. I put on the autopilot and used both hands to take pictures as we went between these peaks. This isn't the Great Divide yet, still in British Columbia, but Vancouver Centre was trying to get a hold of us to transfer us to the next sector. They waited a little too long, or perhaps the altimeter setting was a little higher than usual, putting us a little closer to the rocks and further from line of sight to their antennae. They called me. I responded, but they couldn't hear me.
I so didn't care. I looked out the left side. I looked out the right side. I looked ahead (more spectacular peaks, but in all the pictures I took the morning sun highlighted the tiny scratches in the windshield so strongly that it stole the camera focus and that's all you see, with the peaks a mere background blur. Centre called another airplane (that company I went through groundschool for but ended up not working for) and asked them to relay a massage. It's not uncommon. The controller tells a pilot of an airplane at a higher altitude the callsign of and the message for the pilot they can't reach, and that pilot relays. You can also do it the other way around, as a pilot if you need to contact a controller but you are too low. When you hear another airplane making calls to that agency, you wait until their conversation is over and then ask them to pass your message. It's kind of fun. I accept the message, a frequency change from the relaying pilot, but don't take my eyes from the window to tune it until I'm through those peaks. It's not like Edmonton would have been able to receive my transmission at that altitude either.
Mountains: they are cold and cruel and can kill you quick, but oh so beautiful. In a few miles I called Edmonton Centre and then the knife-edged peaks gave way to the flat of the prairie. It happens startlingly quickly.