Aug 202019

Once and a while, the planets align and you have an almost perfect day. A day when the surf is perfect and there is nobody out, an action packed day of kayak fishing for big fish, or like the week we had mountain biking and camping in the Cascade Mountains with absolutely perfect trail and camping conditions.

It’s been windy so no kayak fishing. Because of the widely varied and quickly changing environmental conditions of this part of the Pacific Northwest, you have to have a “Plan B”. That is bicycle riding for me, especially mountain biking in the forests and mountains. With the forecast of at least a week of strong winds, we packed up the bikes and headed to the Cascade Mountains.

We ride up here quite a bit. The Forest Service roads and trails through the National Forest are great for mountain biking. No death defying jumps and downhills, but there are technical sections and some of the trails are very remote so you don’t want to get hurt or damage your bike. It is the mountains, so it’s pretty much all up and down. It has been mid-summer hot here, we got to the campsite and got everything set up just before sunset.

Mountain bike camping in the Cascade Mountains at sunset with

The weather was so nice, about 50°F at night and high 70’s or low 80’s during the day, depending on the altitude. Morning is an active time in the forests of the Cascade Mountains, we like to get an early start and ride through the woods this time of day to check out the forest life.

Mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

If you plan to ride up the mountain, it’s a good idea to get the major climbing done early while it is relatively cool. The temperature rises quickly as the sun comes up. It can be ten degrees hotter in the direct sun than in the shade. Riding the Forest Service or old logging roads up and the singletrack trails down is normally the plan. How far you can go depends on your condition. The big uphill climbs can be nearly ten miles of climbing. Then, ten miles of downhill single track. That’s a lot of bike riding.

Mountain biking on a Forest Service in the Cascade Mountains

We ride around looking for new places to ride and interesting things, of which there are many, along the way. When you are climbing a mountain on a bicycle, you have some time to enjoy the scenery. This is an ancient lava flow from when nearby Mt. Adams was an erupting volcano. Millions of years old, this lava flow stopped right here.

Ancient lava flow from Mt Adams in the Cascade Mountains

When you live or spend a lot of time in the mountains, one thing you learn straightaway is that the weather can change very quickly. The weather for the past few days had been beautiful. Nearly cloud free, sunny days. On the Sunday afternoon we were leaving, clouds started rolling in from the west, eventually obscuring the sun. With no internet or phone service, we did not know what the weather forecast was.

Storm clouds moving into the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

A few hours later, it started to rain. Then it started to rain harder. Then it started to rain really hard, pounding the top of the fiberglass camper. There was thunder and lightning that seemed like it was only a few feet away. At 2500′, we were probably in the lower level of storm clouds as the storm skimmed across the mountains. Then it started to hail, really hard. Hail can do a lot of damage to a vehicle, now I’m starting to worry a bit. Heard a tree fall nearby as the thunder and lightning continued, as well as heavy rainfall for some time. The next morning, I packed up my muddy bike, which had been lying locked next to my truck on what the day before had been the dry, dusty ground. Everything was damp and the bike had to be cleaned as we headed down into town, seeing blown down trees and evidence of minor flooding.

We knew the summer mountain storm had dumped a lot of rain on the dry, dusty roads and trails of the Cascade Mountains. We knew the rain had washed the dust off everything and left the roads and trails in perfect condition for bike riding. The weekend had passed, so there would not be many people there during the week. Seemed like too good of a situation to pass up so we packed up the riding gear and headed back to the mountains.

We went to a different camping spot this time. We drove up the mountain dirt road and couldn’t help but notice there was not a hint of dust. Usually this time of year your vehicle makes a dust cloud visible from space. Everything was clean and green from all the rain. The first morning there was a bit overcast in the aftermath of a major weather system, but we were ready to ride.

Overcast morning at the Cascade Mountain mountain bike camp

The reason we chose this campsite is that it is centrally located to many of the mountain trails between 2500′ and 4000′. These are not mountain bike trails, but trails that you can ride a mountain bike on. The trails usually run between Forest Service roads, some of them are very rough and remote. It was not a long ride from camp before we hit our first section of singletrack trail.

Mountain biking Cascade Mountain trail with perfect riding conditions

We were hoping for good trail conditions because of the rain and we got them. The trails were firm with great grip for my worn out rear tire with no dust or puddles. Everything was clean with a few drops of water left on some of the plants.

Mountain biking Cascade Mountain trail with perfect riding conditions

The following day was as nice as the day before. All the trails and roads were in mint condition and dust free.

Mountain bike riding on a Cascade Mountain trail

This is one of many very large trees in the National Forest. Logging is limited in the National Forest, some of these trees are very old. You can barely see my mountain bike at the base of the tree.

A very large tree in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Less than forty eight hours after a heavy and sustained downpour, the trails were already starting to dry out under the mid summer sun. There was a thin layer of dry dirt on top and damp below. There was almost no dust. This dirt is mostly ground down volcanic rock, so in most places, there is very little mud, even when wet. Pretty close to ideal trail conditions for mountain biking.

Perfect trail conditions for mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains

The mornings were cool, but it warmed up quickly. We were usually riding by 8:30AM.

Another great morning of camping and mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains

The weather and trail conditions continued to be just about perfect for the next couple days.

Mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains with

Met a couple horseback riders on the trail and a couple people on gravel bikes on one of the roads, other than that, we had all the trails to ourselves.

Early morning mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains
Mountain bike riding on a Cascade Mountain trail

One day, we decided to ride higher up the mountain. It takes a little while to get there when it’s uphill all the way. We aren’t here to race, we’re here to ride, so we stop and look at all the wonderful things there are to see in the Cascade Mountains.

A mountain stream in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

The roads up the mountain are fairly steep in places. Some of those places were made more difficult because of water damage from the recent severe thunderstorm.

Trail damage from recent severe mountain thunderstorm

It was already starting to get warm as we reached the higher elevation. As the evergreen trees thinned out, Mt. Adams came into view.

Mountain biking near Mt Adams in the Cascade Mountains

As we got about as high and gone as far as we were going to go on this day’s ride, we got a good look at Mt. Adams. Nearly all the snow has melted and the glaciers are looking very small on the black south face of the mountain.

There were a lot of animals running around the mountains. Even though we take precautions with our food and trash, we still have unwanted interactions with some of the wildlife.

Mouse trap

On the other hand, there were a lot of butterflies hanging around the camp. Apparently, there is something in worn, sweaty bike clothing that attracts them. Sometimes, they would land on your arm or leg, you had to be careful not to instinctively swat them.

Cascade Mountain butterfly

One evening, this small herd of cattle moseyed right through the campsite. We saw a lot of cattle on this trip to the mountains.

Small herd of cattle moseys through mountain bike camp

Feeling pretty good, we decided to take a long ride up the mountain to a distant trailhead of a long downhill singletrack trail. Even though we got an early start on the day’s ride, by the time we reached about 4000′, it was already getting hot.

Mountain biking near Mt Adams in the Cascade Mountains

We reached the trailhead just as my legs were starting to give out from the consecutive days of mountain riding. From the trailhead, we got another good look at the south face of Mt. Adams, almost totally devoid of snow.

Mt. Adams in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

We turned the bikes downhill after couple hours of stiff climbing. This is what we come here for.

Most difficult mountain bike trail

Before dropping down the side of the mountain and into the forest, we rode through high alpine meadows and burned down trees.

Mountain biking through an alpine meadow near Mt Adams

This trail does not get a lot of use due to the long climb needed to get there, but it was in perfect condition today. It was a great, flowing trail, but you had to be alert because there were some technical sections that come up quickly. This is a remote trail, not a place you want to get hurt.

A rocky section of trail in the Cascade Mountains

I use a Garmin GPS, which works pretty well. I still carry a compass because the GPS is not always 100% correct.

Compass used by

There were a number of blown down trees from the recent storm. It’s going to be a while before the trails are clear again, perhaps not before winter knocks down even more trees.

Blown down trees blocking the Cascade Mountain trail

There are a couple water crossings on this trail. Not that big of a deal in the middle of summer when the streams are barely flowing.

Water crossing on Cascade Mountain trail

We crossed over to a trail that we had ridden before. This is one of our favorite trails and it was in perfect condition. This trail runs along a good size creek and has many waterfalls. In the deepest part of the forest, the scenery is spectacular.

Deep dark Cascade Mountain forest

It was our last day to ride. The trails were starting to dry out a bit, still pretty perfect. We were out of food and the legs were somewhat heavy from all the alpine bike riding. It was Friday, the weekend would surely bring an end to the perfect conditions when horseback and bike riders hit the trails.

Last morning of riding at the Cascade Mountain bike camp

Yesterday’s long uphill climb left the legs a little sore, so we decided to ride across the mountain instead of up. The sun is getting lower in the sky, leaving some forest trails almost dark as night, even during the day.

Dark Cascade Mountain bike trail

There was plenty of prime singletrack to be ridden.

Cascade Mountain singletrack trail

There were a number of side trails that were not on the map, probably game trails or trails made by cattle. Some of these trails led to some great spots, well off the main trail.

Cascade Mountain waterfall

Another day of great mountain bike riding on perfect Cascade Mountain trails. The trails we rode today were mostly in the forest, much cooler than riding the more barren higher altitudes.

Sunlit Cascade Mountain forest trail

This trail has a number of log bridges that cross deep ravines and fast flowing mountain streams.

Log bridge on a Cascade Mountain trail

On the last stretch of trail leading back to the camp, I rode over a trail I had ridden on the first day we were here, nearly a week ago. There was only one set of tracks on the trail and they were my bicycle tracks from five days ago. Not another bike, man or animal had been on the trail since then.

Bike tracks on a Cascade Mountain trail

And that was a wrap for a fantastic week of mountain bike riding in one of the most spectacular places in the country. We could not have asked for better conditions. We did a lot of riding, saw a lot of cool things, nothing broke and nobody got hurt. An amazing week of mountain bike riding, hope to be heading for new trails soon!

Aug 102019

A couple of calm wind days appeared with a blistering heat wave that sent temperatures into the high 90’s, but we take any calm days we can get, so off we go to eastern Washington kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River.

This is a spot of historical significance. It is a lot different than it was back then because of all the dams, but we are paddling our kayaks on the same river as Lewis & Clark.

Paddling the same Columbia River as Lewis & Clark with

With the normal west wind off the Pacific Ocean switched around to an easterly afternoon breeze, we were able to fish in a few different spots that are harder to get to with a west wind. Paddling a few miles into a stiff west wind is not something you want to do after a full day of kayak fishing. With the hot weather and possibility of afternoon wind, we were on the river and fishing in the cool, calm early morning well before sunrise. When the sky is red in the morning this time of year, it means it is going to be very hot.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River on a hot summer moorning with

By the time the sun peeked over the dry eastern Washington hills, we had paddled a couple miles and caught a few fish. The calm and light east wind allowed us to paddle further upriver.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River at sunrise with

The kayak fishing conditions on the Columbia River in the early morning were just about perfect and the smallmouth bass were biting. About as good as it gets. The fish could be bigger, but we always say that.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught at sunrise by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

There was a lot of kayak fishing action. A few bigger fish, a bunch of one pounders and lots of small bass looking to get bigger by eating anything that moves.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

The smallmouth bass were very active. They could be caught close to shore or in deeper water where they usually head in summer when the river water gets warm. There were spots you could get a strike on every cast. The bass were coughing up crayfish. If you had a lure that looked like one you were in business.

Smallmouth bass over the rocks in the Columbia River

For two days the smallmouth bass fishing was great. Caught lots of fish and did a lot of paddling with the calm conditions. The river is starting to get slimed with green algae making it tough to fish, this may be as good as it gets this summer.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

We wanted to fish another day or two, but there were a bunch of sketchy looking characters, most likely tweakers, in the parking lot. Vehicle break ins and theft, once rare at these remote boat launches and trailheads, is now a regular occurance, especially on weekends. This place is a long way from anywhere and there is sketchy phone coverage. Nobody is going to help you, you’re on your own and you must make smart decisions. The conditions were excellent and the fish were biting, but the red lights were flashing so we packed up and headed home. That’s the way things are in a rapidly changing area of the Pacific Northwest. Good news is there are plenty of other fishing spots and we are out looking for them.

The beginning of fall salmon fishing season is almost here. Usually, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation this time of year, but this time around, it’s more like anxiety and apprehension. We’ll see soon enough.

Jul 272019

After the increasing wind put an end to a successful kayak fishing trip on the Columbia River, we headed north to do a little kayak fishing at Goose Lake in the Cascade Mountains. It’s been a few years since we’ve gone fishing at Goose Lake. This time of year is usually not the best time for fishermen but we decided to have a look.

As expected, with the warm weather we’ve been having, the mountain snow pack is down to the glaciers so the seasonal snow melt fed streams are running dry. There is not much water coming into Goose Lake so the water level is very low. Goose Lake is not a large lake to begin with, not much left this time of year.

Low summer water level at Goose Lake in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

Just like a lot of the other “natural beauty” around this part of the country, Goose Lake can look like the middle of nowhere, but much of it is man made. The lake has no native fish but is stocked by Fish & Game several times a year. If you go fishing a day or two after being stocked, you can catch fish on every cast from the boat launch. For a small lake, there is good deal of fishing pressure and the stocked fish get caught up pretty quickly. The fishing for the two days we were there was pretty good. Maybe I just had the lucky lure. One small cutthroat trout and the rest were stocker clone rainbows.

Kayak fishing at Goose Lake Washington with

Like other spots in this area, Goose Lake is one of those places that has become a popular weekend camping/fishing destination. On nice summer weekends and many weekdays, the place is packed with weekend warriors from the rapidly expanding Portland/Vancouver metro area. It seems more like a Portland city pond than a Cascade Mountain lake. It’s not a big area and it seems overrun. There were some pretty sketchy people there that did not look like recreational campers. Even though it’s taking a beating, Goose Lake still has it’s moments.

A cloudy morning kayak fishing at Goose Lake Washington

That wraps up what is likely our last trip to Goose Lake for this year. We probably should have come here a bit earlier in the season. Have to follow the trout stocking truck next year and beat the crowd!

Jul 272019

The Columbia River area wind has not been kind to kayak fishermen this smallmouth bass fishing season. There have only been a very few calm days where we have been able to get out on the Columbia River to go fishing. Whenever we’ve been able to go fishing, the fishing has been pretty good. Still looking for that big 20″ trophy smallmouth, but it’s been a while since I caught a really big fish.

Some of the best smallmouth bass fishing spots on the mid Columbia River are also the most windy so whenever the wind is predicted to be moderately calm, it’s a call to make a seventy five mile drive to go fishing. We lucked out and were able to get two and a half days of fishing with good conditions between wind events. It was really hot here in eastern Washington in the afternoon and the smallmouth bass will bite day or night, so we got an early start to the fishing day by the light of the moon when the wind was most calm.

Kayak fishing before sunrise on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

It was a little more than a half moon, and with the rising sun in the east, it was light enough to see by 5 AM. We knew our fishing time would be limited by the afternoon wind, so we were on the water well before sunrise. By the light of the moon there was plenty of fishing action. We caught the biggest smallmouth bass of the fishing trip just before sunrise each day so it was worth getting up early and getting out there. It was also nice and cool on what would be a swelteringly hot summer day.

Pre dawn Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As the sun came up the fishing remained hot and we caught a lot of smallmouth bass. Most of them were “one pounders”, but we did catch a number of bigger fish. Smallmouth bass are great fighters and it always seems like there should be a bigger fish at the end of the line. Even the small bass put up a great fight.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

The water temperature of the Columbia River, especially the side bays and shallow sections is warm and getting warmer. That means the smallmouth bass are moving to deeper water and the river vegetation is taking over. There is the usual seaweed, but the real problem is slimy green algae that is covering just about everything under the water. If your lure touches anything, it’s coated with algae and the fish won’t bite.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

As the sun rose on another still very long PacNW summer day, it got really hot, into the low 90’s. The fishing was still good until late in the afternoon when the wind usually picked up and made the fishing more difficult.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Even during the windy afternoon, the fishing was still pretty good. When you’ve already had a long day of kayak fishing, you don’t want a mile long paddle against a 10-15 mph wind back to the launch. Good fishermen always want to try “one more cast”, but it’s time to get back to camp, get hydrated and something to eat so we can do it again early tomorrow morning.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

As the weekend river goers packed up their fishing rods and pool toys, we packed up and left the hot, windy Columbia River and headed towards the Cascade Mountains and Goose Lake.

Jul 272019

We here at travel to some pretty remote places looking for fishing spots and places to ride bikes and we encounter a lot of wildlife. Deer, elk, coyotes, cougars, bears and many smaller mammals, birds and reptiles. We take precautions with food and trash to not attract any of these wild creatures but it seems we are constantly under attack by wild field mice. Mice have gotten into the cab and camper shell of my truck a number of times and caused damage from chewing and made a big mess for such a small animal.

I made a few simple and inexpensive modifications to my vehicle, a 2005 Toyota Tacoma, to keep the mice out of the cab and engine of my truck. Most vehicles will have a similar layout, this article is just to give you the general idea of what to do.

You will need some hardware cloth. It’s the screen material used to keep small animals out of gardens. I used 23 ga. 1/4″ mesh screen. Don’t use window screening because it may get clogged with dirt and block air flow. You will also need wire cutters to cut the screen material and maybe a few zip ties.

We will use the hardware cloth to block openings from the vehicle interior to the outside. The main opening is the vent that supplies air to the vehicle interior. Usually, it is under the hood, perhaps near the windshield wipers like it is on my Tacoma truck.

Cabin air intake vent on a 2005 Toyota Tacoma

Measure the vent and cut the hardware cloth to size. It doesn’t have to be exact because we will bend the screen over the edges of the vent. I like to leave the mesh of the screen intact if possible.

Cut hardware cloth to the size of the cabin air intake vent

Place the screen over the vent and do some creative bending to fit the vent without leaving any gaps or holes. Mice can get through the smallest openings. Bending the screen over the vent was fairly secure, but I used a couple zip ties to be sure the screen stays in place.

Rodent proof screen cover for cabin air intake vent

While I had everything I needed, I made a screen cover for the air intake vent of the truck engine. This is a vent from the outside of the vehicle, behind the grill or over a wheel well, that supplies air to the engine. A mouse crawled in here and made nest next to the air filter, blocking the air and making the truck run poorly. I cut and bent the hardware cloth to fit over this air intake and secured it with zip ties to prevent any further mouse nesting in the truck engine.

Rodent proof screen cover for engine air intake vent

Not only will these modifications keep rodents out, they will also keep leaves, pine needles and debris from clogging the ventilation system. Of course you have to be sure to close your vehicle doors or the mice will simply enter through the open door.

Jul 082019

We’ve given up on fishing days due the non-stop Columbia River wind and have started looking for fishing hours. Some days the wind is non-stop, other days the wind might be calm around sunrise for a few hours or die down just before sunset. You have to take what you can get around here. Depending on the exact direction of the wind and your location on the river, there can be some wind shadows.

This is a nice fishing spot on the Columbia River in eastern Washington. It’s not very busy during the week but this is the local swimming hole for the local rural communities, so the weekends are busy. July 4th is the unofficial beginning of summer in the Pacific Northwest, there is a marked increase in the crowds at popular recreational areas.

Columbia River kayak launch in eastern Washington

Kayak fishing opportunities have been few and far between lately, so when a rare, moderately calm wind day appeared, we were on it before the crack of dawn.

Kayak fishing at dawn on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

As it seems to be most of the time, the smallmouth bass fishing early in the morning was pretty good. As was the case the last time out, many of the smallmouth bass were on the small size. Even the small fish are aggressive, a six inch bass will try to eat a four inch lure. This bass was a good size fish, but it must have been a female that had just laid all of her eggs, otherwise it would have been a lot fatter. I caught several fish like this.

Early morning Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The Columbia River Gorge is a natural wonder, but what you see today has been dramatically influenced by the hand of man.

Kayaking through a culvert on the Columbia River

Each day we were blown off the Columbia River by noon. As long as we could find shelter from the wind, there was plenty of kayak fishing action.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River with

Every once and a while, a nicer bass would take the lure so it wasn’t always smaller fish. Quarter pounder or twenty inch trophy bass; you never know.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

This was our first time fishing here, there was a lot of interesting stuff going on besides the smallmouth bass fishing. There was some weekend wild life in the parking lot and some wildlife down by the river.

Deer on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

With the 4th of July week over, all we need now is a few calm days. By “calm”, I mean less than double digit wind speed. It’s already July and we’ve only been fishing a few times. Between no salmon and the endless wind, it’s getting tough to be a kayak fisherman around here. Maybe it’s a sign that I need to work on the largemouth bass kayak fishing video from the past winter…

Jun 252019

Wind, wind and more wind has been killing the kayak fishing season, so it’s more mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains. This area is an amazing place, so much to see and do. Stay away from the more popular areas, especially on weekends, to experience one of the last wild places in the lower forty eight United States.

We made it about 200′ off road before we had to stop. Nothing major, but a reminder to put the ax in the truck. You’re on your own here.

Downed tree across the Forest Service road

Even though it’s late June and the weather has been pretty nice by Pacific Northwest mountain standards, mornings are cool with heavy mist or light rain possible. It warms up quickly as the sun comes up, but still cool in the deep forest shadows.

A cool, misty June morning in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

The first place we camped, the roads up the mountain to the top were extremely steep. It was all lava gravel so it was like riding on ball bearings. The climbs eventually were too steep for me to ride. Judging by the skid marks in the gravel, it looked like 2WD vehicles were having trouble as well.

An extremely steep lava gravel road in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

We moved deeper into the National Park where there are very few people, looking for a bit more moderate climbing effort. Exploring is what we are here to do, so we drove around a bit looking around. We want a place where we can ride a number of roads and trails. Solar exposure is great, here in the PacNW, you take what you can get. Park the truck and don’t start it up until we leave. We came here to ride bikes.

Mountain bike camping in the Cascade Mountains with

This spot turned out to be a great area for camping and riding. There are a number of Forest Service roads that go around and up the mountains with plenty of side roads to check out. There are still steep sections on the mountain roads, but having to push the bike a little is pretty much par for the course.

An opening in the dense forest in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington

These are the headwaters of a number of Washington rivers that eventually empty into the Columbia River. The warming weather melts the winter snow pack on nearby Mt. Adams and the ice cold water begins the trip down the mountains to the Columbia.

Cascade Mountain creek

The mountain creeks turn into mountain rivers as they wind their way down the mountains.

Cascade Mountain river

The wildlife is very active this time of year. Deer with new born young are everywhere. I saw a bear while out riding this week and saw another one a couple weeks ago, not far from here. There were elk across the road from the campsite making all kinds of noise all day long. Hardly any mosquitoes and lots of butterflies.

Cascade Mountain butterfly

Best of all, on top of all the great gravel and dirt road riding, there is some pretty nice singletrack that doesn’t see many riders. The trails usually cut between sections of road. Riding up the road and down the trail is usually the best way to go. The scenery is the Best of the PacNW.

Picture perfect Cascade Mountain singletrack

These trails are a long way from anywhere. We’re here too have fun, but have to ride reasonably because getting hurt or damaging your bike have real consequences out here.

Steep Cascade Mountain singletrack with tree roots

Another great mountain bike expedition. Found cool new places to ride and camp, did a lot of riding, the weather was pretty nice and we found new places to check out. It looks windy for the next week, so we are back on the trail(or road).

Jun 192019

Since I have recovered enough from injuries I suffered when a semi rear ended me, I am grateful to be able to ride a bicycle again. Not only will getting back to riding help improve any structural damage suffered by being hit by a fully loaded semi and improve cardiovascular fitness lost after being immobile for nine months, but riding, especially out in the woods, gives me a chance to pound out my frustration and gives me a chance to think without daily distractions.

Mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains

We are fortunate to live in one of the best places in the United States for bicycle riding(except in the winter). There are miles and miles of dirt and crushed lava rock Forest Service Roads and old logging roads. It’s perfect conditions for training; above 3000′ and plenty of climbing. It is the mountains after all, there is very little flat terrain.

Lava rock gravel road in the Cascade Mountains

Some of the climbs are miles long. Some roads are not as steep as others so you may have to pedal a little further, but the grade is not as steep. We need to ride up towards Mt Adams where there are plenty of roads and trails to explore.

Mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains near Mt Adams in central Washington

Mt Adams is in a Wilderness Area so there is no mountain biking allowed. This is about as far as you can go on a bicycle. Mt Adams is in the distance, below it is the dark colored Aiken Lava Bed, an ancient lava flow from when Mt Adams was active. Below the lava field is a burn area from a more recent wildfire.

Mt Adams and Aiken Lava Bed in central Washington

This area has a long history of logging. Since a lot of it is National Park, there is not much logging here, but the surrounding area is owned by timber companies, so there is still active logging. Some of the old logging roads are still here and have not been traveled on in years.

Old logging road in the Cascade Mountains for mountain biking adventure

When you take these roads to nowhere, make sure you and your gear is 100% in order. Nobody is going to find you and there is no phone coverage.

There are also singletrack trails. These trails range from “brand name” mountain bike trails to paths through the forest made by wild hooved animals or horses. These trails are challenging and fun, but ride well within your limits because it’s a long way out.

Mountain biking Cascade Mountain singletrack

Closer to the snow covered mountain peaks, the seasonal streams are still running. In another month, this stream will be completely dry.

Creek crossing a seasonal Cascade Mountain stream near Mt Adams

The snow on Mt Adams is melting and it is melting fast. Photos from just a few days apart show how much snow melts in a short period of time. Soon, the snow pack will be down to the glaciers.

The rapidly melting snow pack on Mt Adams in central Washington

This is about as close to nature as you can get these days. There is always something interesting to see in the mountains and things are always changing.

Cascade Mountain flowers

Not sure where this road goes, but it’s in a pretty remote area. I think we can check this road out next time.

Remote Cascade Mountain road near Mt Adams

Like the saying goes “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”, the time off the bike has made me miss riding and I am stoked to be back in the saddle. All these roads and trails, 100% free. You should go riding.

Jun 192019

The seemingly endless wind of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding vicinity finally eased up for a few days so we were back kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River as soon as the wind stopped. That happened early in the morning as we paddled out to see a sight we have not seen in weeks; a calm Columbia River.

Sunrise over a calm Columbia River kayak fishing for smallmouth bass

The first day of kayak fishing conditions was classic Pacific Northwest; 45° at sunrise, 85° at sunset. Bring all your outdoor clothing. There is still snow melt running into the Columbia, but it’s warming up. Warmer water means more seaweed, we’ll see how that goes this summer. Relatively few weeds to deal with. Rocks are always covered with algae or moss, so you must get close to the rocks, but not touch them. The fishing action was definitely better in the morning and tapered off in the afternoon.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The good news is that the smallmouth bass were biting and we caught a lot of fish. The not so good news is that most of the fish were small. A ton of bass between half a pound and a pound. Regardless of the size, smallmouth bass are aggressive and always put up a good fight.

We use 7’0″ spinning rods and lightweight reels, but use a bit heavier line because of the rocks and snags. Usually, 12-14lb. test mono. You don’t need miles of line on the reel because you can move the kayak if you are in danger or getting spooled. 1/8 oz. lead head pumpkin seed grubs are working well because they look like the crayfish the smallmouth bass are feeding on. Whether the bass is five pounds or a half pound, the lightweight setup makes it fun.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

I did catch a few bigger bass, which keeps you on your toes when you think all you are catching half pounders.
The smallmouth bass spawning is over and the river is full of baby smallmouth bass. Those mini bass will grow quickly and in a couple months be chunky smallmouth bass.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

After a great few days of fishing and paddle-up camping, the wind has returned and shut down the kayak fishing on the Columbia River. Can’t help but remember the fantastic conditions and great fishing until we can get out there again.

Glassy Columbia River kayak fishing in eastern Washington

As soon as the wind calms down, we are back on the river. We found a new spot to launch and hoping there will be some fishing action there so check back soon.

Jun 042019

This is the first time, since being involved in a serious vehicle accident with a 40 ton semi truck, I’ve been able to get back on the bicycle and out on the trail. I haven’t been off a bicycle for nine months in many years. Even though I am still dealing with lingering injuries from the accident, at least I can ride.

Early morning bike check in the Cascade Mountains

We were riding some of our favorite roads and trails in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This is a great place to ride, one of the few remaining wild places in the lower United States.

Cascade Mountain bicycle riding

Gifford Pinchot National Forest surrounds the Cascade Mountains, many of which are active volcanoes. Here is Mt. Adams.

Mt. Adams in central Washington

You can see a number of snow covered Cascade Mountain peaks from the same spot, including Mt. St. Helens. Mt. St. Helens is easily identified due to the flat mountain top, blown off by the 1980 volcanic eruption.

The flat top of Mt. St. Helens

There was a large fire in this area a couple years back. The area is fairly inaccessible, so the fire burned a lot of timber.

Wildfire burn area in Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mt. Adams

It takes a number of years, but nature eventually is restored to it’s previous state. Harvesting timber or burned up in wildfires, the forest is gone one way or another. Careful management and preservation of precious natural resources is required.

Wildfire burn area in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The weather is nice, the scenery is spectacular and the roads and trails lead to all kind of interesting places.

Cascade Mountain bicycle riding

Always glad to be out bike riding. I’m shutting down the computer, packing up the truck and heading back out on the trail!