We spent a few windy and rainy days in town while we geared up for more mountain biking adventures in the Cascade Mountains. Kayak fishing has all but been blown out of summer due to the seemingly endless wind and pandemic restrictions. Even though this is one of the windiest places in the continental US, this year so far as got to be a record. Thankfully, we have great mountain biking close to home so we don’t have to spend the time at home watching bad news on TV. The coronavirus pandemic seems to be headed in the wrong direction here and it’s really starting to take it’s toll. The situation here is pitiful and looks like it’s about to get worse.
Not much to do except practice social distancing. If six feet is good, six miles will be better. Off to the mountains we go!
We set up camp a few days before the July 4th weekend. The weather was good and the pandemic definitely had an impact on what would usually be one of the busiest summer holidays. We are “dispersed camping”, which is how it is here, so not much difference from “normal”. With reduced staff all around, expect a long wait if you get into trouble.
The recent wind and rain had taken it’s toll with more blown down trees. This road was open and the tree still standing just a couple days earlier.
We hopped over a few blown down trees on the way towards Mt. Adams. It was warm with blue skies and scattered clouds.
The recent storms knocked down a few more trees, but they also left the mountain trails and roads in great, dust-free riding condition. Mountain plants like flowers were in full bloom.
Away from the pandemic, politics and problems, mountain bike camping is simple; ride, eat, sleep. Maybe a few extras to help forget reality for a few days. Sun comes up, wake up and get ready to go riding.
After a night of scattered rain showers, the next morning, the skies were sunny and the rain had upgraded the trails that were in good condition to perfect condition.
This is about as good as it gets, which is pretty good.
One thing for certain about the Cascade Mountains is that things are constantly changing. After a few mostly sunny days, the clouds rolled in and the weather went from mostly sunny to completely overcast. Not a bad thing because it made the days a bit cooler and the nights a bit warmer.
The forest animals didn’t care about the weather change. This young deer ambled right up to the tailgate of the truck to have some breakfast with us.
The overcast conditions change the way the trails look under sunny skies.
These are world class riding trails and with perfect conditions, we ride until the legs stop working, which is always too soon.
The bicycle riding is about as good as it gets, with plenty of interesting things to see along the way.
The sun was barely able to shine through the thick clouds over Mt Adams as we made our way higher up the mountain.
In the deeper parts of the forest, the overcast skies created a quiet, surrealistic effect.
The overcast skies eventually gave way to more blue, sunny Cascade Mountain skies.
We rode up to where the bushes were so thick that it was impossible to peddle uphill with the bushes tangling with the bikes. We will have to try this trail coming downhill from another direction.
Back at camp, butterflies were fluttering around while we packed up and got ready to move to another part of the mountains.
After a few days taking care of business and the kayak fishing opportunities again being zero, we headed to another part of the local Cascade Mountains to check out some different trails.
We travel light so setting up camp doesn’t take long at all and we are ready to ride!
We were stoked to find the trail conditions here were just as good as the perfect conditions we had on the other part of the mountain a few days ago.
We wanted to ride up and over to the trail that was overgrown with brush to see if it was rideable from the top down.
The closer you get to Mt Adams, the bigger it gets.
We got to the trail we were looking for to find that someone had gone through and cleared all the blown down trees. Just a few days ago, this trail was impassable because of blowdowns.
The trail was clear of trees, which is huge, but the trail was choked with thick bushes. Some of the bushes were over eight feet tall, hiding trail side stumps, logs and rocks. We descended slowly and cautiously, as you should when you can’t see the trail ahead of you.
The final day of excellent mountain bike riding and camping in the mountains was here. Another sunny and increasingly warmer mountain morning.
Warmer days mean we get started riding before it gets too hot. The continuing warm, dry weather also means dusty trails and increasing fire hazard.
What has happened in the week we’ve been up in the mountains? We’ll find out soon enough. We’d like to get some kayak fishing in before the end of the world, but we may be back in the mountains in short order.
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.
Everything was still damp from a long winter of rain and snow, fresh and green, with perfect bike riding conditions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We moved to another campsite to check out some other trails.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everything was clean and green from all the rain, maybe even a light dusting of snow on the top of 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.
We rode through ancient lava flows and lava domes like this one.
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.
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.
The next day, Mt Adams was covered with clouds as another storm moved in.
We decided to spend the rainy days taking care of business, so we closed up yet another great stretch of mountain bike riding.
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.
The day’s ride took us past another huge blown down tree. This another old giant, over a hundred years old.
Dirt roads turn to overgrown roads that turn to trails until they either hit another road or trail or disappear.
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.
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.
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.
You also do not want to casually brush against trail side bushes. Some of these bushes are blackberries whose thorns are like fish hooks.
Mountain streams run from Mt Adams, through the Cascade Mountains and down to the Columbia River.
Day after day of great weather and great mountain biking on some of the best trails in America.
Singletrack trails wind through the forest of pine trees and mountain flowers.
Trail conditions, like the weather, change all the time. Quickly.
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.
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.
Another great day of mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains with perfect trail conditions due to overnight rain.
Great riding, but everything was wet and/or muddy. Pretty much what mountain biking in the Pacific Northwest is all about.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When conditions are perfect, you just have to go. We had barely returned from our last Cascade Mountain bike riding adventure when another passing summer storm system dumped enough rain on the dusty trails to return them to perfect mountain bike riding conditions. Summer is short in the Cascade Mountains so when there is an opportunity like this, you are duty bound as a mountain biker to go ride.
We were feeling pretty good after a couple days to rest our weary legs. The wind was howling so kayak fishing was out, trail conditions were perfect in the mountains, so we loaded the bike gear in the truck and headed into the Cascades.
We camped at a spot that is a little higher up the mountain. We wanted to try and ride to the mountain climbing camps at the edge of the National Wilderness, but you need to be in good shape. It is a stiff ten mile climb up the side of Mt. Adams and then down a rarely used trail in a remote section of forest. No fooling around.
The recent rain had left the trails and roads dust free and in perfect mountain bike riding condition.
Everything was clean and green. No dust and perfect bike riding conditions.
The semi regular summer rain storms are keeping the mountain creeks and rivers flowing.
One day we headed up towards the climbing camps to test our fitness level. You don’t head off into the woods unless you’re sure you can make it back. It was relatively warm and windy following the storm front that had recently passed through. After about seven miles of climbing, at about 5000′, I had had enough. It was clear that I had still had work to do following the semi truck accident. There was still about four miles of climbing steep mountain roads to the camps, I just didn’t have it.
We headed back down the long, steep switchbacks around the ancient lava flows with a great view of Mt. Adams and the last remnants of the clearing storms. Best to stop if you want to take a look; this is a nasty lava rock road with a steep cliff alongside.
With the high altitude riding out of the way, we explored more of the many miles of trails in the National Forest. Today, we are riding around the mountain instead of up.
Even though most of the trails here do not have difficult technical sections or steep drops, there are plenty of rocks, roots and chunks of timber on the trail. They may not be technically difficult, but they can be tricky and very rough. On a harmless looking section of trail, my front wheel went into a hole covered by tree bark and over the bars I went. I’m normally very careful out here in the middle of nowhere, but sometimes things just happen. I lost a chunk of skin from my forearm, but it could have been much worse. Going over the handlebars is something you always want to avoid.
I rigged up a field dressing of paper towels and duct tape over my missing flesh and was able to ride the final day of the trip. Took it a bit easier than normal to avoid any further mishaps and enjoyed a great day of mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains.
It’s going to start getting cool very quickly in the Cascades as we leave summer behind and head towards the long Pacific Northwest winter. We hope the mountain weather will continue to be in our favor and allow us more riding time on the fantastic trails of the Cascade Mountains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following day was as nice as the day before. All the trails and roads were in mint condition and dust free.
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.
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.
The mornings were cool, but it warmed up quickly. We were usually riding by 8:30AM.
The weather and trail conditions continued to be just about perfect for the next couple days.
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.
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.
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.
It was already starting to get warm as we reached the higher elevation. As the evergreen trees thinned out, Mt. Adams came into view.
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.
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.
One evening, this small herd of cattle moseyed right through the campsite. We saw a lot of cattle on this trip to the mountains.
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.
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.
We turned the bikes downhill after couple hours of stiff climbing. This is what we come here for.
Before dropping down the side of the mountain and into the forest, we rode through high alpine meadows and burned down trees.
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.
I use a Garmin GPS, which works pretty well. I still carry a compass because the GPS is not always 100% correct.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was plenty of prime singletrack to be ridden.
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.
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.
This trail has a number of log bridges that cross deep ravines and fast flowing mountain streams.
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.
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!