I was heading home from Arlington and passing Snohomish when it occurred to me that there might be an opportunity to shoot the Skydive Snohomish jump ship. They operate a Blackhawk conversion of the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. The conversion adds a more powerful engine which is useful for a jump ship that is focused on getting loads to altitude fast and then returning to do it all again. I turned off to the airport and saw that operations where on a southerly flow which means towards the road.
As I drove around, the plane took off directly over me, but I had no time to stop and get a shop. I parked up and watched it climbing above me and then disgorging its load of what my friend Bob calls meat bombs. The descent was pretty rapid, and the plane was landing as the jumpers were making their approaches. It pulled off the runway and then held on a taxiway for a while. It appeared that they waited until the next lift was ready to board at which point, they pulled up to the skydive facility and got everyone on board.
It was a short taxi to the hold point and then they were lined up and powering towards me. It is a short runway at Harvey Field, but they were rapidly airborne and climbing above me and on their way to the drop point. Once they were gone, I packed up my stuff and headed home.
With the firefighting helicopters gathering at Snohomish to cover the local fire activity, I was able to chat to the crews a little while they waited to see what was to come. Northwest Helicopters had brought in a Black Hawk to support the fire if needed. It was a 1984 build airframe and had been painted in a blue scheme. The guys were complaining about the paint, though. It was a matte finish and the soot from the exhausts was discoloring the surface and was, apparently, impossible to clean up. The rest of the airframe looked fine for something that is nearly 40 years old.
They had a Bambi bucket with them for the firefighting side of things and were quite happy for me to check out the interior of the cockpit. Having shot their arrival, it was a shame that the visibility was so bad that they could not do what they had come to do and were stuck on the ground while I was there. A nice pair of guys to chat with, though, and I appreciate the time and access that they gave.
I posted some shots of the K-Max that came to Snohomish to support the firefighting operations on the Bolt Creek fire. They flew in from another location and needed some material to support their planned stay. They made a call to their base and arranged for some parts to come up on a support aircraft. This turned out to be a Daher Kodiak 100. I was actually getting ready to leave when the Kodiak showed up making a tight pattern to land. I was out of position so just watched it but, they were a bit high and fast on the approach so made a go-around. This gave me time to get somewhere better for the second approach.
The Bolt Creek fire brought a load of helicopters in to fight the fire and they were based at Harvey Field in Snohomish. A while after I got there that weekend, one of the UH-1s fired up. This was Rotor One, a county operated helicopter. It took off and turned over me before heading east. It turns out it was looking to see how the conditions were. Visibility looked awful and, judging by whatever Rotor One reported, that was the case everywhere. None of the other helicopters ever got moving. The conditions were just too bad.
I have never shot an airborne K-Max. I have seen them flying – indeed one flew over the house during the pandemic and I looked out of the window as it came low over me but no camera was handy. It is a bit of a problem for me that I have not yet shot one flying. I did manage to get close to one recently, though. The Bolt Creek Fire broke out up near Index and a number of fire fighting helicopters were drafted in. They were based at Harvey Field in Snohomish so just up the road from me. I went up to see what was afoot. Sadly from a photographic point of view (and from many others too), the fires had resulted in so much smoke in the area, the visibility was too poor for anything to fly.
Instead, I was able to chat to the crews and walk around the helicopter as it sat on the field waiting to see what would happen next. The orange paint scheme is pretty conspicuous as if the unusual configuration Kaman knows best was not conspicuous on its own. The airframe is minimal – space for a pilot, engine, fuel and transmission and not much more. From every angle, it is a strange looking beast. However, it is so interesting. A few weeks later it had moved to Arlington from which it eventually ferried home. Of course, that happened when I wasn’t there so I continue to wait for the chance to shoot one airborne.
I have been doing a lot of riding my bike this year and have been gradually expanding how far I go. I decided I wanted to do a longer ride but figured I should not combine that with lots of hills in case I overextended myself a touch. I figured it might be a good time to try out the Centennial Trail. This is a trail that starts in Snohomish and runs 30 miles up past Marysville and Arlington to the county line with Skagit.
An out and back seemed like it could be fun and it is a converted disused rail line so it wouldn’t have hills. (That isn’t true of course. It does have hills but the grades are gentle. I wondered why I was slow for a while and then found myself zipping along so clearly the grades were noticeable.). I started early one morning which meant I avoided some of the busier traffic that comes later in the day.
It was a fun ride. Once out of Snohomish, the trail only occasionally crosses any roads so you can trundle along without much interruption. Since it is an old rail line, there are some old rail bridges to cross occasionally when you get to rivers. There are mile posts to let you know how you are doing and even areas where horse riders can cross when hoof marks have been set into the surface. Aside from a brief stretch through Arlington’s more industrial areas, it is a pleasant ride. A nice park in Arlington itself provides a stop off if you need it and the end of the trail is at a barn seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A good ride to get 60 miles under your belt!
I didn’t get to the Spartan Race in time for Jim’s start so he was out on the course when I got there. I wandered around seeing others making their way around and decided he must have already passed the earlier spots I might see him. I waited for him to come back in to the main area before heading out again on the second big loop. I was wondering if I had missed him when he came into view down a hillside. Rather than distract him, I let him do the next obstacle before I said Hi!
I then saw him do a few more tests before he was off again. At least now I had a rough idea of where he was and who was on a similar pace. That made picking him up again a lot easier. I could then follow him around the final series of tests. These shots are a bunch of those I got of home as he was in the second half of the race. He pushed on to the end and finished well. I was tired watching it all so I bet he was shattered. However, once he finished, he looked really stoked so I guess the success was rejuvenating.
Excellent effort mate. Well done and a well deserved addition to the medal collection. Now to finish off your personal challenge!
Two of the later obstacles in the Spartan Race involved water. The first was crossing a small river. It wasn’t too deep but the cold water on tired leg muscles was not nice. The banks were also getting very muddy and slippery given the number of contestants that had been before. Then there was a second water crossing. This was across and back the river with bank climbs on both sides. The water was also a lot deeper and the bottom of the river was uneven. Here people really struggled and the tiredness was really showing.
A couple of the obstacles in the Spartan Race that I saw involved getting yourself across a series of ropes and hoops or using grab handles that moved while you hung on. These obstacles would be tough if you were fresh but they were in the latter portion of the race when tiredness was already very apparent. It was fascinating to see the different techniques people used and the success or otherwise. Dropping off was very common given how tired people were and the resultant 30 burpees will not have helped.
The physiques of people didn’t seem to have any indication of the probability of success. Some people looked like they would struggle as they set up to start and would then surge across. Others would look good and then drop off quickly. Knowing how I would have fared, I was very sympathetic. A few were in fantastic shape and just flew through. Others got so close to the cowbell at the end that signified success and would drop when almost in reach. You were willing people on.
One of the toughest to watch was one of the elite female competitors. She was in third place coming to the last obstacle and nearly made it across before slipping. She headed off to do her burpees and, while she was doing them, the person in fourth approached. She got onto the test and made it across cleanly jumping into third place. The other competitor had to finish her burpees which must have been so hard having just seen your podium position slip away.
My buddy, Jim, was taking part in a Spartan Race. The event was being held in Snohomish so, while I wasn’t willing to get up quite as early as him, I did go up to see the race and what people were prepared to put themselves through. The whole thing was being held on land that is usually an equestrian center. The Beast race was a 13.2 mile trek punctuated with a variety of tests and obstacles that the contestants had to negotiate. Fail to succeed on any of them and there was an area for you to head to where you would have to do 30 burpees before you could move on!
There was a central area for spectators and those who were waiting to start or who had already finished. (A sprint course was also available so the whole Beast course was not the only option.) A number of the obstacles were close to this area while many others were scattered out in the woods and fields. There wasn’t anything to stop you heading out to the other areas if you wanted to and, as I was there longer, I did go a bit further afield. Not all the way out though. I wasn’t testing myself!
This shows the main area and the people that were there to be involved. Some of the obstacles were worthy of their own post so there will be more to come.