Jul 072020
 

The weather conditions for kayak fishing, mainly the wind, have been terrible and the mountain trails and weather are perfect, so it’s off for more Pacific NW mountain bike adventures in the Cascade Mountains. Camping and riding bikes in the beautiful Cascade Mountains is a good way to get away from civilization and see the lessons nature has to learn.

The majority of the winter rain had barely stopped falling, the sun appeared and we were on the first mountain bike camping trip of the coronavirus plagued season. Almost everything is still closed as far as recreational facilities go and I think the hope of them being opened this summer is fading fast. Dispersed camping is still allowed, that’s what we usually do anyway.

MTB camp Cascade Mts

Everything was still damp from a long winter of rain and snow, fresh and green, with perfect bike riding conditions.

Great MTB riding in the PacNW

It’s cool in the mornings and warms up quickly as the sun comes over the tall forest trees. I put the solar panel out for some early morning mountain sun as we have breakfast and get ready to go riding.

Early morning MTB camp getting ready to ride

With the early summer sun and the damp forest dirt, everything was growing full speed during the short summer season. These mushrooms were growing out of hard dirt and lava rock on the side of a road.

Forest mushrooms growing out of lava rock

The weather was perfect, the roads and trails were in perfect condition. There was a lot of wildlife running around and storms of pine tree pollen.

Great MTB riding in the Pacific NW

After a couple days of getting used to riding in the mountains again, we headed a little higher up the mountain and got our first glimpse of Mt Adams for the 2020 mountain bike riding season.

Riding mountain bikes towards Mt Adams

After a few days of nice sunny weather, there was some overnight rain. As long as it’s not raining while you’re riding, it’s a good thing for the trails and cleans up the dust.

Cloudy damp morning MTB ride

We moved to another campsite to check out some other trails.

Moving to new MTB camp

Many of the trails and roads were blocked by blown down trees. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are minimal Forest Service people on duty, so clearing the roads and trails is going to take some time.

Forest Service road closed by giant blown down tree

Our weather luck had run out and as a series of late winter storms moved into the Cascade Mountains, we headed back to civilization, stopping at this tree that had blown down. This was a huge tree, well over one hundred years old.

Large blown down tree on Cascade Mountain road

Now, more wind and rain…

Jul 072020
 

After nearly two weeks of wind and rain, the rain finally stopped but not the wind, so back to the mountains for more mountain bike riding. Things are really tense in the cities and towns around here, so it’s nice to have the mountains to escape to.

Anxious to go riding after two weeks of sitting around watching it rain, we were up early and ready to ride. Cool nights and mornings after the passing storm fronts. Once you got on the bike and riding, it was fine.

Early morning MTB camp

We try to do the bulk of the climbing in the morning when it’s cool. The wildlife is active in the morning so you have a better show as you grind your way up the mountain.

Riding mountain bikes near Mt Adams

Due to the past couple weeks of non-stop rain, the trails were in perfect condition. The soil is sandy and after a couple of warm summer days, it will be loose and dusty.

Perfect trail conditions in the Pacific Northwest

We rode up to some of our favorite singletrack trails only to find the trail completely blocked by numerous large blown down trees and the trail head markers destroyed.

Trail head destroyed by large blown down trees

Everything was clean and green from all the rain, maybe even a light dusting of snow on the top of Mt Adams.

Mountain bike riding near Mt Adams

We rode up old logging roads made of black and red lava rock. On the sides of the roads there were these durable flowers growing out of lava rock.

Mountain flowers growing out of lava rock

We rode through ancient lava flows and lava domes like this one.

Ancient lava dome near Mt Adams

We rode higher and higher towards Mt Adams and the roads got steeper and steeper. Not in very good shape from not riding, there came the time I could go no further. To be in good bike riding shape means you can ride more so it’s always a solid goal to stay in shape.

Riding mountain bikes near Mt Adams

Before we turned around for the downhill run back to camp, we took a final look at Mt Hood on the other side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Mt Hood

The next day, Mt Adams was covered with clouds as another storm moved in.

Cloudy Mt Adams

We decided to spend the rainy days taking care of business, so we closed up yet another great stretch of mountain bike riding.

Jul 072020
 

After a couple damp days in what looks more and more like the Twilight Zone every day, we packed up the bikes and headed back to the mountains. The wind continues to blow our kayak fishing hopes to little bitty pieces. We’re grateful there are options to enjoy the Pacific Northwest outdoors.

We set up camp in one of our favorite spots. Sun for the solar power and close to great singletrack trails.

Morning MTB camp
Mountain bike in the morning sun

The day’s ride took us past another huge blown down tree. This another old giant, over a hundred years old.

Large blown down tree and MTB

Dirt roads turn to overgrown roads that turn to trails until they either hit another road or trail or disappear.

Riding mountain bikes near Mt Adams

Nearing Mt Adams, a large, burned out area of forest has been taken over by large bushes that have overgrown the trail. The trail is there, you can’t see it. In another month, these bushes will be over six feet tall.

Trail disappears into thick bushes in burned out forest

Leaving the overgrown trail for another day, we headed back down the mountain. The trail leads through sections of deep forest that are completely dark, even at noon on a sunny summer day.

MTB riding on dark forest trail

There are sections of great Cascade Mountain singletrack trails. Be sure to stay on the trail because hazards are only inches away. If you fall, you will probably hit wood.

Cascade Mountain singletrack trail

You also do not want to casually brush against trail side bushes. Some of these bushes are blackberries whose thorns are like fish hooks.

Blackberry bush thorns

Mountain streams run from Mt Adams, through the Cascade Mountains and down to the Columbia River.

Cascade Mountain stream

Day after day of great weather and great mountain biking on some of the best trails in America.

Mountain biking near Mt Adams

Singletrack trails wind through the forest of pine trees and mountain flowers.

Cascade Mountain singletrack trail

Trail conditions, like the weather, change all the time. Quickly.

Fallen tree blocks trail

As if riding bikes up and down the side of a mountain isn’t enough excitement, Mother Nature always seems to have a little something for you. This morning, as we were getting to go riding, we noticed bear hanging around the campsite. It’s not like there’s a lot of food here, but enough for this bear to have a look.

Just a short distance from that bear, we saw this one, closer to camp, circling around to the side.

If you make a lot of noise and jump around, bears usually leave. Otherwise, they eat you. Thankfully, these two bears left for the campsite down the road with more food. I did see another, even larger bear, on my bike leaving camp and saw plenty of various size bear tracks on the sandy trails. It was another great day of riding, although we kept an especially close eye out for bears.

Cascade Mountain singletrack trail

After the pesky bears and a great bike ride, the clouds moved in and it began to rain. Light rain started in the early afternoon and did not subside until the next morning. The somewhat dusty trails were now perfect again and everything else was dripping wet.

Cool damp morning in Cascade Mountains
Perfect PacNW trail conditions

Another great day of mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains with perfect trail conditions due to overnight rain.

Cascade Mountain singletrack

Great riding, but everything was wet and/or muddy. Pretty much what mountain biking in the Pacific Northwest is all about.

Wet and muddy MTB

That wraps up this edition of Adventures in Mountain Biking, Cascade Mountain style. We are looking forward to more great mountain biking, so check back soon!

Jun 132020
 

We are doing everything humanly possible to get away from the worries we all are living with now, but Mother Nature is piling on with plenty of wind and rain. Too much wind for kayak fishing and riding a bicycle in 20mph wind on exposed terrain isn’t much fun either. Then it rains.

It was a decent day yesterday, overcast but mild, with light winds and sporadic drizzle. While eastern Washington has clouds, everything to the west has serious rain, so we’re fortunate to be riding dry. No epic singletrack, but miles of rock and dirt roads and trails along the Columbia River and the plateaus above it.

Mountain bike riding in eastern Washington

There are farms on the plateau above and the Columbia River is to the south, between there is a band of rugged, rocky terrain. You can ride for hours on various surface conditions and different terrain.

Mountain biking in the rocky terrain of eastern Washington

Eventually, even the roads that are barely roads come to an end. Around here, the farthest south you go is the Columbia River. The gorge of the Columbia River created by a prehistoric geological event is spectacular along its entire length, that’s the story here as well.

Mountain biking along the Columbia River in eastern Washington

Looks like the rain may finally stop but it does not look the same for the wind. Breezy for the next week so we’ll probably head back to the mountains for more mountain biking. Most things along the Columbia River are still locked down making kayak fishing trips difficult, great mountain biking is available, so the choice is clear.

Jun 112020
 

We finally got a break in the weather and managed to get in a great day of kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River. It’s been a windy and rainy spring in this part of the PacNW making it tough for kayak fishing. A calm day on the river, albeit with the entire PacNW rain, sun and everything in between weather show, is a rare thing this year so far.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

When I say “a day” of fishing, I mean one day. The next day the wind has come up again with another round of rain and high wind storms coming up for the next four or five days.

The day started out overcast and calm with intermittent drizzle. The fishing was a little slow to get started, but the Columbia River water level is very high and once we found where the bass were hanging out, the fishing was very good. A rainstorm passed through, but when the fishing is good you hardly notice.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Due to the changing water levels of the river, it can be like fishing different spots. The smallmouth bass move around as the water level and temperature change. You have to paddle around looking for them, but they are nearly always around rocks or some kind of structure.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

There is a lot of seaweed and algae in the water. Usually, it backs off in the cold water of winter and grows very quickly as the water warms up towards summer. The water is not that warm, yet the aquatic vegetation, especially the slimy, free floating algae, is already taking over the river. When we get fishing again, we’ll check out some other spots so stop back soon.

Jun 082020
 

The Pacific Northwest weather continues to keep us off the Columbia River for any kayak fishing so it’s off to the mountains for some mountain biking. It’s still cold, windy and rainy but we can get some rides in between storms. It’s not quite summer yet so the crowds are minimal and the trails in good shape.

Mountain road 5-30-20

I have not been riding the bikes so I was sorely out of shape. With the cool and unsettled mountain weather, we didn’t want to camp too high in the mountains, so we set up camp at about 2500′. It was cool at night and in the morning, but when the sun came up over the trees, it was ideal for mountain biking.

Sunny Cascade Mountain road

For a few days we rode around the lower mountain trying to regain a little fitness. No matter where you ride in these mountains you won’t find a lot of flat roads and trails so the first couple rides were pretty short. We wanted to get a look at Mt. Adams, so we headed up the mountain. After a somewhat slow grind up the mountain, we had our first good look at a snow capped Mt. Adams.

Mt Adams 5-29-20

We expected to see more snow for this time of year so it looks like water may be an issue this summer.

After an intense overnight thunderstorm with plenty of rain we headed over to another part of the mountain where there was more singletrack. The trails were in excellent condition and the forest was super green and fresh from the recent rain. Being out of shape, we were riding pretty slow, but there is plenty of amazing scenery to check out along the way.

Cascade Mountain stream

More public land is opening from Coronavirus restrictions so we’re looking forward to getting back out on the local trails. Everything has been closed so there are probably a lot of blown down trees. Like everyone else, we’re tired of sitting around, we want to ride!

Cascade Mountain singletrack

We are hoping the wind dies down so we can get out and do some kayak fishing, but if there is no fishing, we will be back out on the trails so check back and see what’s happening.

May 192020
 

We are back in the Pacific NW where nearly everything is shut down due to the COVID pandemic. The widely different parts of Washington and Oregon have widely different opinions on how to proceed with reopening the states while keeping everyone safe. This has increased the tension between the densely populated west side of the states and the mostly rural eastern side of the states. On top of that, it’s been mostly windy and raining since we returned from swelteringly hot southwest Arizona.

Best thing we can do is get as far away from civilization as possible. Life is difficult on land but out on the water things are almost always good. We left the largemouth bass biting on the Colorado River and were stoked to find the smallmouth bass biting on the Columbia River.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

There was a small break in a series of storms that allowed us to get out on the Columbia River for some kayak fishing. The first day was overcast and damp with light rain on and off, but the fish were biting and the wind was calm. The next day was something that has been rare this late spring in the Pac NW; calm winds and a bit of sunshine.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River at sunrise with watermanatwork.com

The day started off in spectacular fashion but in a couple hours the clouds thickened and the light rain showers were back. The wind stayed calm and the fishing was good. Lots of smallmouth bass fishing action with some nicer fish being caught.

Columbia River smllmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Camping is still not allowed at campgrounds, rest areas or even spots on the side of the road where travellers rest are closed. Public restrooms are closed. Port-a-pottys have been placed at the recently opened boat launches while the restrooms are closed.

Kayak launch on the Columbia River 5-15-20

With more storms on the way, we got everything we could out of a few days of fishing. Without any sustained fishing pressure for the entire spring, it should be a great late spring and summer fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As we wait for more windy and rainy weather to pass through, hopefully more of the outdoor areas will be opened up. There’s plenty of the state where it’s easy to keep your distance to other people. That’s why people come to these places; to get away from other people. Who knows what is going to happen? Keep checking back because if it’s the end of the world, we want to get some fishing in.

May 042020
 

With the future just about as uncertain and as unsafe as it can be, we’ve loaded up the kayaks and fishing gear one last time after a great spring kayak fishing season in the desert southwest.

We’ve been kayak camping in the desert since before the coronavirus pandemic hit. This is a remote area with few people and very limited personal interaction. As far as spread of the virus goes, this would one of the safest spots in the country. Due to the pandemic, the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), has closed nearly all facilities like restrooms, water and showers, but the land remains open for public use under BLM rules. Fishing was still allowed and a couple miles away, so not much reason to head back to the Pacific NW where the virus was spreading and most everything was closed.

Desert kayak camping near the Colorado River

Amid this life changing event, we are in this beautiful, natural place. Nature has stayed the same while the human race faces changes that will make life in the future much different than it is today. Paddling out on the lakes and rivers with the stars overhead as the sun rises over the desert mountains is like an escape to another dimension.

Kayak fishing at sunrise on the backwaters of the Colorado River

As summer approaches in the desert southwest, the temperature increases rapidly. 100°F during the day and 75°F at night makes for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous environment. Most of the kayak fishing was done in the early morning. I think most of the largemouth bass fishing action was between about an hour before and an hour after sunrise.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

Although it’s not cool, it’s the coolest time of the day in the desert. The wind has been mostly calm so the water is usually pretty glassy. It’s an ideal kayak fishing situation and the payoff can be a nice largemouth bass.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As the sun rises over the hills, the temperature rises quickly and the wind increases. We usually start fishing well before sunrise and fish our way back to the launch. Even if the best fishing was around sunrise, the rest of the morning was pretty good as well.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

Some days were just about perfect for kayak fishing. The desert wildlife is active in the morning before it gets too hot. Of course, fishing can be better on some days than others, but usually, there’s not much to complain about.

Late spring morning on a Colorado River backwater

You try to cover as much of the water as you can before it gets too hot, the wind picks up, or the fish stop biting.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

After waking up hours before sunrise, paddling five or six miles, getting attacked by mosquitoes and horseflies and baked in the 100° desert sun, the hottest part of the day is still to come. Get loaded up and get ready for a few hours in the desert sauna.

Kayak fishing in extreme desert heat with watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

A quick glance at the news on the phone after coming in from kayak fishing is a quick reminder of the harsh reality away from this remote spot. We did not really want to leave, but the heat was becoming a bit too much.

May 042020
 

With daytime temperatures reaching 107°F and only dropping into the low 80’s at night, we knew we wouldn’t be able to hang on much longer. Everything, including water and food, was no cooler than 80°. Dehydration or heatstroke is a real risk.

Knowing we were down to the last few days of largemouth bass fishing, we were on the water every day long before sunrise. The skies are dark and full of stars. In the last few days, we saw a few meteors enter the atmosphere leaving bright green and white trails.

It was also easy to get going early because that’s when the largemouth bass fishing seemed to be the best. I caught a lot of nice fish before the sun came up.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Sunrise means that it is going to get hot very quickly, but it also means that the mosquitoes will no longer be attacking you. The best time of the day for fishing is about half over.

Sunrise over the lower Colorado River

The early morning fishing continued to be good. I think that quietly moving in on these fish with a kayak was a key factor in our success.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

Our last day of fishing turned out to be a hot, but spectacular day. Partly overcast, which is break from the normal clear blue skies, and calm desert wind.

Beautiful late spring day for kayak fishing the backwaters of the Colorado River

The last largemouth bass on the last day of the kayak fishing trip turned out to be a nice one.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish
Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We paddled through the Colorado River backwaters to the launch beach for the last time this season, I couldn’t help but wonder what the future holds.

Kayak fishing the backwaters of the lower Colorado River

By the time we loaded our gear and drove back to our campsite, it was 105°. We’d spent the last couple weeks in the desert with the temperature over 100° every day. If it wasn’t for this desolate tree in the desert that provided shade in the afternoon, we wouldn’t have been able to stay that long. We were baked, time to get out of the oven.

Hot desert sun

We posted this blog and are currently in transit back to our home in the Columbia River Gorge. The pandemic has already caused major disruptions in this area of small towns with large cities an hour’s drive away. I’m not sure what we’ll find when we get there, but there may be a delays in blog entries.

We’ve started a WatermanAtWork Instagram page and will try to fill in the gaps between blog posts with photos and comments on Instagram. The link to the WatermanAtWork Instagram page is here on the blog in the “Links” section.

Check back soon and stay safe!