Afternoon sun hung low as I prepared for takeoff. Orange brilliance obscured trees at the end of the airstrip. It also hid cliffs beyond, the ones I had to fly between to climb out of the river canyon.
Checklists done? Yep. Engine still sounding good? Yep. Abort point confirmed? Yep. Departure path reviewed? I pictured where the plane’s wheels would leave the ground, how I’d hold that heading until just past the end of the strip, then the slight right turn that would keep me over the water and away from higher ground. The air was clear. No worries. I’d be able to see the cliffs well before they threatened—if everything worked right and I paid attention.