Sep 102017
 

In case you’re interested, this is what a 30,000 acre plus wildfire looks like

Eagle Creek wildfire near Cascade Locks, OR

Below the smoke is the nervous and mostly evacuated town of Cascade Locks. The white smoke usually means there is water on it because firefighters are trying to save the town, but up and over the hills there are still thousands of acres of raging wildfire. It will be a long time before this fire is under control and won’t be out until we get some significant rain. Thanks to all the firefighters and support people, this is going to be a big job.

Sep 092017
 

No sooner than we get the kayak fishing for salmon started, the fishing is on hold thanks to high winds, and even worse, an out of control wildfire that is burning just a few miles away. The local interstate is closed and the roads are full of fire fighting vehicles. The air is full of thick smoke and ash, unhealthy to breathe, so any kind of physical activity is limited.

Cleaning fishing reels

Not much else to do except clean and repair the salmon fishing reels. One was in bad need of a grease job and the other one, the front line salmon reel, had a few loose screws and needed a lube job as well. Catching these big fish and getting banged around on the kayak is tough on the fishing gear, it’s a pretty good idea to do regular maintenance, which of course, nobody seems to do.

Sorry, nothing much to report this time. Thanks to all the firefighters working the Eagle Creek fire, they have a big job ahead of them and we hope that nobody gets injured.

Sep 062017
 

We finally got out for our first kayak fishing for salmon trip of the season. It was unlike any of the other first salmon fishing trips of the year because the Columbia River Gorge is filled with heavy smoke and ash from the nearby Eagle Creek wildfire. It’s not exactly easy breathing and visibility was often less than a quarter mile, but we had to get out there and try for the first salmon of the season.

It didn’t take long for me to get the first fish of the year. After only a few casts, about a half hour before sunrise, I hooked into the first Chinook salmon of the season. It was a smaller fish, probably ten pounds or less, so I released it. Little did I know it would be quite a few hours before I felt another serious tug on the line. The sun came up, but it didn’t get too bright because of the thick smoke. There were a few fish being caught, but for this time in the annual salmon run, I would have to rate the fishing as “somewhat slow”. The slow fishing, hot weather and smoke from wildfire made for a typical challenging day of fishing.

A smoky Columbia River challenges salmon fishermen

After going all day with only a few half-hearted hits and no solid strikes, I was pretty disappointed after catching a salmon in the first half hour on the water. Then, I got a solid hit and a good hookup. It was a good fish, but I could tell it was not a salmon or steelhead. Turns out it was a big smallmouth bass. At least I caught some kind of fish. I was about to call it a day when I got a hit that nearly ripped the fishing rod out of my tired hands.

Kayak fishing for salmon

This fish was a salmon; a big salmon. It went on a couple long runs, ripping line from the reel and giving the drag a real workout. Between the runs, the fish made two huge jumps out of the water. It was a real battle and I was not making any progress getting the fish to the boat. When I finally got the fish close to the kayak, I could see that it was a big Chinook salmon. It would never fit into my landing net, but it didn’t matter. A closer look at the fish I could see that it was foul hooked in the dorsal fin, that’s why I couldn’t make much progress getting it to the kayak. I was wondering how to unhook and release a thirty pound salmon when the hook worked itself loose and the monster salmon swam away.

Quite a way to start the salmon fishing season!

Sep 062017
 

This is the mountain biking in the fire zone report. Mountain bike adventures here in the Pacific Northwest are on hold until we get through a run of massive forest fires. There is a thirty thousand acre fire just a few miles from here that is filling the air with thick smoke and ash. Interstates are closed, towns evacuated and even a twenty mile stretch of the Columbia River has been closed by the historic Eagle Creek fire. This will probably be our last mountain bike trip for awhile.

Things started out nice enough. We got our camp set up, it was hot but not unbearable, and there was nobody else in the camping area.

Mountain bike camp in southwest Washington

We didn’t go too far on the first ride before we came upon a reminder that autumn is right around the corner.

Autumn is just about here in the Pacific Northwest

We found some new trails that are actually overgrown logging roads. These roads don’t see a lot of traffic.

Old logging road in southwest Washington

Sometimes, these roads lead to some pretty fantastic places that a lot of people don’t get to see.

Wild southwest Washington backcountry

We rode some rocky trails where we wondered where they might lead

Rocky section of mountain bike trail

This trail led to this really cool little waterfall and swimming hole that was a welcome sight on a hot summer day

Backcountry waterfall in southwest Washington

We put in a lot of miles and covered a lot of roads and trails

View of Mt. Hood from a southwest Washington forest service road

There have been wildfires burning in the area and the air had a lot of smoke in it. On the last day of the trip, we woke up to dense smoke and ash falling from the sky. The sun was red from all the smoke.

Red sun from smoke from nearby wildfires

Being out in the woods in the middle of nowhere and seeing all this, we were a little concerned because we did not know exactly how close the fires were. It smelled like a campfire and it was raining ash, but the forest is so dense, we couldn’t see much. We decided to ride up to a local mountain peak and try to see how close the fires were. It wasn’t easy breathing on the climb to the top of the peak because of all the smoke in the air. When we got to the top, we could see there were obviously large fires in the area, but it didn’t look like there were any within a day or two of reaching where we were.

Smoke from the Eagle Creek fires chokes the Columbia River Gorge

Thick smoke covered the entire area. It was a little clearer higher up and there was less ash, but not really great conditions for bike riding so we decided to ride down the hill, pack up and head home.

Aug 302017
 

The mountain bike mania continues here at watermanatwork.com. The salmon have arrived, but so has the wind, so we are getting out on the trails every chance we get. There’s no shortage of places to go and we are always ready for a new mountain bike adventure.

Another mountain bike adventure

It’s been hot and dry, but still pretty nice riding at the higher elevations

Sunny, hot and dusty mountain bike riding

We go further and further out into the forest every time we go riding. It’s a great day of riding just looking around and exploring new places. This is an old logging operation. This spot is were they would load the logs onto logging trucks for the long ride out of the woods.

An old logging operation on the mountain bike trail

There are a lot of roads and trails that get very little use that are great for exploring. Here’s an old logging road that leads to who knows where? We’ll probably check it out the next time we are here.

Overgrown logging road

Some of the trails get very little use, maybe only a handful of intrepid explorers every year, probably a few hunters. You have to be careful riding this kind of trail because it’s so overgrown that it’s hard to see what’s ahead of you. You can come across a bunch of deer or a bear on the trail, too. With overcrowded popular trails just a few miles away, there are trails like this dying from not enough use.

A seldom used singletrack trail

As we mentioned, the salmon are here and our kayaks are packed and ready to fish. Only problem is that it is very windy so that puts a damper on the kayak salmon fishing. It is also Labor Day Weekend and it is going to be hot, real hot, like in the hundreds. To escape the heat, wind and crowds, we are headed back to the mountains for more mountain bike riding. We’ll be back after the holiday weekend to get the salmon fishing started!

Aug 222017
 

We’re only a hundred miles or so from the “path of total darkness” during the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, so we got a pretty good look at it. It got darker and cooler and the skies were clear so we got a good view with our eclipse glasses.

Solar eclipse 8-21-17

It was a pretty big event, the local library had an eclipse viewing party and there were people everywhere standing outside looking up at the sun with eclipse glasses on. We watched the eclipse for a couple hours with our neighbors, the Great American Eclipse was over and it was back to everyday life.

Aug 222017
 

We spent another weekend off in the woods mountain biking. We are getting in as much mountain bike riding in as possible because we are probably going to spend most of our time salmon fishing starting in a few days. The days are also getting shorter and it’s starting to get cool at night, so that means winter is right around the corner. The seasons change quickly around here, gotta squeeze everything you can out of those summer days.

We put in a lot of miles riding on Forest Service and logging roads. There are literally thousands of miles of roads like this across the Pacific Northwest. While weekend riders crowd the “name brand” mountain bike trails, you can ride roads like this all day long and hardly ever come across another human being.

Cycling on Pacific Northwest Forest Service and logging roads

Of course there are plenty of singletrack trails to ride as well. This late in a dry summer, many of the trails are dusty and “blown out” from riders skidding around the corners so you have to go deeper into the woods to find the trails that are not as popular or well known.

SW Washington singletrack mountain bike trail

We swung down into Central Oregon for a bit of riding there, but the long dry spell has got everything crusty dry and dusty. Still fun, just a bit dusty.

Mountain bike camping in Central Oregon

As we mentioned, the days are getting shorter, so that means it’s almost time for salmon fishing season. If the conditions are favorable, we will probably get out on the Columbia River and try for the first salmon of the season. This early in the salmon run, odds of catching a fish are pretty slim, but the weather is nice so why not give it a try?

Days are getting shorter, fall is right around the corner

Keep checking back because there’s a lot going on this time of year and we’ve got some exciting things planned for the next couple months.

Aug 222017
 

We got our new Canon PowerShot G9X and have spent a few days trying it out, here’s what we think so far.

This camera is unbelievably small, which makes it very easy to take along on just about any adventure. Despite it’s small size, it packs a lot of features and functions, including full manual control, RAW format still images and 60fps 1080p video.

Canon PowerShot G9X

It’s going to take some getting used to. For starters, it is so small, I have to be careful where I grab it and put my fingers because the controls are operated by touch screen and my fingers inadvertently hit the buttons on the screen. For an old manual camera guy used to knobs, dials and levers, this is a pretty big change. The camera takes really nice photos so I’ll adjust to the new touch screen operation. The .CR2 RAW files don’t open in Adobe Photoshop CS6, but the Adobe DNG converter will do the job because we refuse to “upgrade” to subscription based Adobe software. Anyway, we’ll have more on the Canon G9X as we get used to it. Hopefully, you’ll notice the better quality photos on the watermanatwork.com blog and website.

Aug 222017
 

Well, the honeymoon for the new Eluktronics N850HK1 is over pretty quickly as we have discovered that it has major overheating problems. The first video we rendered using the new Eluktronics N850HK1 laptop put the CPU temperature almost to the thermal cutoff of 100°C. Further checking showed the CPU running about 60°C at idle. These temperatures are way over what would be considered normal and to continue running the computer like this could shorten the life of the CPU or damage the computer.

Eluktronics N850HK1 overheating problem

We’ve only used the computer about a half dozen times so having Eluktronics tell us to pack it up and send it back are not what we want to hear. We bought this computer because we have work to do, not to do quality control checking for Eluktronics. Eluktronics offered to pay to have it returned, but all our stuff is on the new computer and we are traveling, which makes returning the computer for who knows how long, not feasible. We got a lemon.

We are guessing the overheating is caused by poor thermal connections between the CPU and the CPU heatsink. Eluktronics offered to “upgrade” the thermal paste for an extra $35, so it’s pretty safe to guess the quality control over this important manufacturing step done by Chinese workers is not very good. If we disassemble this new Eluktronics N850HK1 computer and do the job they should have done in the first place, it will most likely void the one year warranty. We took a chance on a small company like Eluktronics, who we had never previously heard of, and this is what we get.