This flight will definitely go down as the coolest way to meet up with a friend...EVER.
Friday night I called up Craig Collings to make arrangements.
Me: Hey Craig. Planning to fly tomorrow?
Me: Sweet. Wanna meet halfway between Benalla and Mount Beauty?
Craig: Sounds good. I'll text you when I launch. See you in the air!
Sure enough we managed to find each other somewhere in the air about halfway between our two launch points. This location also happened to be on the edge of the hills, so luckily for me I didn't have to do too much navigation by myself. Craig ended up being a most excellent tour guide. "On your left in Mountain." "See that river on the right? That's the River." And so on. It was an excellent opportunity for me to get aquainted with the landscape from the air, learning what the mountains really looked like, not just from the map. We ended up venturing past the Mount Beauty town site and got on top of Mount Feathertop! A few people were hiking on the peak and gave us a nice wave. It was exhilarating to experience the mountains in this new way! Such beauty and energy which can be captured! Plus the increased danger of mountain flying brought a new focus to my flying. I think at this point I had begun to be a little complacent in the flats. A new challenge was just the thing I needed! Eventually I found myself task-saturated learning to fly in the newly-felt mountain air and pulled the pins on Feathertop. I didn't want to put myself in a dangerous situation. Craig safely led me away from the peak and flew with me back out of the hills. On our way out we gave Mount Buffalo a greeting. We were a little low over the peak, and finding a good climb Craig turned into a tight thermal. I followed, not quite realising how low I was as I turned away from the top. However, coming around the turn I was startled to be greeting by big massive CLiFF and an absolutely gorgeous waterfall!