Monday, July 4, 2011
Ikaros In The Big Horn Mountains
At Sheridan, Wyoming I made a decision to forego the Little Big Horn or St. Xaviers and the Pryor cut off but instead turn West to visit the Medicine wheel a place long on my agenda. As noted elsewhere it was snow under and closed.
Dubbed hang gliding “heaven,” the little town of Dayton, west of Sheridan, Wyo., and on the eastern edge of the Big Horn Mountains is home to some of the best thermals in the northern Rockies. The conditions here allow hang gliders to stay airborne longer and go higher.
Two thirds the way up the Mountain, on highway 14, there was a large parking area with lots of cars. Hang Gliders were lined up biding their time for their chance to jump off a cliff that looked about 3 miles high to me.
The audience was as weird as the thought of jumping off the cliff. There were three or four bikers showing colors and riding self assembled hogs standing next to a group of Hutterite women chattering in German(?) and all sort of regular tourist inappropriately dressed. I'm getting real paranoid now because this is the third time in three years I've seen the two kinds of groups together somewhere. No I did not take a picture of the bikers with the Hutterites. I do not have a death wish. Beside there were these people jumping off a cliff that required my attention.
I think it was about 1971 when I first read about hang gliding in a Nation Geographic. Back then it was really a new sport with basic equipment. I really wanted to do it, but I lived in Oklahoma. Now if I had really thought it through I could have just purchased a glider and stood out in the field on a windy day and might have been able to take off by just jumping up.
Alas, time passed. Wife prevailed. Never did it.
Now I weigh just shy of a fifth of a ton and would die from the pain in my if I ever got of the ground and had to come back down and land.
But I watched these young men in silent envy and admiration if not wonder at their risking their lives for fun.
One seldom ever regrets doing something, but often regrets not doing something.