Aug 142018
 

The Columbia River winds continue to blow and keep us from kayak fishing so it’s off for more mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains.

Mountain biking in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

We are trying to use these mountain bike camps to stay up in the mountains and ride at a little bit higher altitude. The mountain roads are perfect for training and getting into shape.

Morning mountain bike ride to Mt Adams

The weather changes quite a bit in the Cascades and conditions can change pretty quickly. We had some hot cloudy/hazy/smoky days that were quite humid and had a few light sprinkles.

A cloudy/hazy/smoky day in the Cascade Mountains

Then one morning, the temperature dropped about 20° making for a chilly start to the day’s ride.

Early morning mountain bike ride in the Cascade Mountains

The cooler weather got the animals and wildlife moving. We saw lots of deer and plenty of cattle roaming the open range.

Cooler weather made the wildlife and grazing cattle more active

The sun came up over the mountains and warmed things up a bit but the wind picked up as well and it was still somewhat cool at the higher elevations.

Riding mountain bikes near Mt Adams in Washington

The wind cleared out the haze and smoke that had been hanging over the mountains for a couple days and we got some great views of Mt. Adams.

Mt Adams

There are a lot of back roads and trails to explore, like this rarely used trail high in the mountains. Judging by tracks on the trail, it is used mostly by cattle and wildlife like deer and elk.

Rarely used Cascade Mountain trail

It’s exciting to explore new trails and see where they lead, but when out this far in the boonies, you have to ride more cautiously than if your vehicle was parked a half mile away. Help is a long way away here.

Cascade Mountain trail

Since we are exploring and not racing, it’s easy to take a break and look around at the forest.

Taking a break on a Cascade Mountain trail

It’s all worth the effort because there are some great trails here that get very little traffic.

Mountain biking Cascade Mountain singletrack near Mt Adams

That’s a wrap for another great mountain bike camp in the Cascades. We are headed back to town to see what the weather is going to be like for the next few days. Summer is great here in the PacNW, but it is also short and those summer days are slipping away…

Aug 072018
 

After a few great days of bicycle riding around Mt. Adams, we came down from the mountain to 20-30mph wind with gusts to 40mph, so once again in this season of endless wind, kayak fishing was a no go. Drop off the road bike, grab the mountain bike and back into the Cascade Mountains for more bike riding. We set up camp and settled in for the night.

Ready for mountain bike riding in the Cascade Mountains

Early the next morning, the sun came streaming through the dense Cascade Mountain forest, it was time to get up and get ready to ride. The forest is a special place.

Early morning sunshine in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

You know you are in the right place when the trails have no names.

A great place where the trails have no names

There are miles and miles of park service roads, snowmobile and cross country ski trails. Of course there is no snow so they make great mountain bike trails. Some of these roads don’t get much use and are pretty overgrown. You can drive on most of the roads, depending how much you like your suspension parts and tires, but they are perfect for mountain bike riding.

Mountain bike riding on park service roads in the Cascade Mountains

There are also plenty of great singletrack trails that provide challenges to any skill level of mountain biker. These trails see regular use by backcountry horseback riders and can get pretty dusty in the dry days of summer, but a mountain thunderstorm can get the trails back to mint condition in a matter of hours. There is abundant wildlife and great scenery along these trails, great mountain biking for all levels of riding experience.

Cascade mountain singletrack mountain bike riding

There are a lot of places to camp where you can climb out of your sleeping bag, jump on the bike and hit the trail. It’s nearly all dry camping and “pack it in, pack it out”, so come prepared. If you’re not a camper, there are places to stay in Trout Lake.

Mountain bike camp near Mt. Adams

We decided to ride from our camp to the base of Mt. Adams where the mountain climbing trails begin. The road is pretty rough, fine for mountain bikes. The climb is not particularly steep but there are some steeper sections that usually are not too long. Mt. Adams is a large mountain, so there’s plenty of climbing on the way up.

Mountain bike riding to the base of Mt. Adams

When you get to the base camp, don’t be surprised to see a fair number of vehicles for what seems to be the middle of nowhere. This is a popular base camp for alpine climbers as well as a parking lot for day hikers. Trucks can handle the road rough up pretty well, but the sedans and mini SUVs with street tires, I’m not so sure. These people must go through a lot of tires.

Base camp for climbing routes up Mt. Adams

The long climb up the mountain gives you a chance to check out the scenery, of which there is plenty. This is still a fairly wild area. Get a good look on the way up because you will want to pay full attention to the lava gravel road down.

Winding Cascade Mountain road down Mt. Adams

It’s a long downhill ride back to the campsite.

Long downhill ride from the base of Mt. Adams

After the great ride up to Mt. Adams on the lava gravel/dirt roads, we headed back into the woods for more trail riding. Even on a mid summer day, the forests around Mt. Adams can be a dark place. Not too terrible if it’s a hot, sunny day.

Mountain biking in the deep, dark Cascade Mountains

The hot summer sun melts the mountain snow and glacier ice that feed streams that flow through the forest. Some streams are seasonal, some flow year round.

Snowmelt and melting glacier ice feed Cascade Mountain streams

Hundreds of years ago, a lava flow from an erupting Mt. Adams stopped right here.

Ancient Mt. Adams lava flow

The trails and roads are in prime dusty summer condition and we couldn’t help but think that a little rain would really clean things up. Well, we got our wish as an afternoon thunderstorm came rolling over Mt. Adams to deliver a summer downpour. We were only a short distance from the mountain and the sound of the thunder echoing off of Mt. Adams was quite spectacular. Didn’t see any lightning or fires, thankful for that.

Afternoon thunderstorm over Mt. Adams

We headed back up to Mt. Adams from a different direction for a little more exploration by bike.

Mountain bike riding to Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams is a large mountain and looks different from every direction.

Mt. Adams

On the way down the mountain, we rode through an area that was burned by wildfire in the not too distant past. Compared to the many shades of green in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the blackened forest is quite the somber place.

Mt Adams forest burned by wildfire

After the ride through the burned out forest, we ended the ride on a high note with some nice singletrack, fresh from the previous afternoon rain.

Cascade Mountain singletrack fresh from previous day's thunderstorm

The final day of our mountain bike began warm and humid so we got an early start up the mountain.

Early morning road climb up to Mt Adams

We wanted to go out with a bang so we rode to the top of the trails on the road to get warmed up, then rode singletrack trails the rest of the ride. The trails were mostly downhill but a lot of the trail was overgrown with a number of blown down trees across the trail. Made by horseback riders years ago, the trails in the National Forest do not get a lot of maintenance so it’s a challenging ride on a mountain bike. Thanks to the recent rain, the trails were in great shape with very little dust.

Mountain bike next to a Cascade Mountain stream

It’s been a great trip, fantastic bike riding in a spectacular place. Time to head back to civilization, see what the internet says about the weather. We may be back on the water kayak fishing or, if it’s too windy, more bike adventures. Stay tuned because something will be happening!

Jul 312018
 

The persistent Columbia River wind has made us pack away the fishing gear for some cycling in the local Cascade Mountain foothills. There is great mountain biking as well as great road biking in this area. On the last weekend of the Tour de France, we got the road bikes out for a little riding on the roads around Mt. Adams and Gifford Pinchot National Park.

Mountain road or trail? Great road and mountain biking here

It’s been real hot lately, it’s a lot cooler in the mountains than it is at lower elevation, but it’s still pretty toasty. We are up at sunrise getting ready for a cool early morning ride.

Sunrise in the Cascade Mountains on a hot summer day

This is a pretty good place to experience alpine cycling without a lot of traffic. There are a number of different riding routes, but they are mostly around the foothills of Mt. Adams.

Riding to Mt Adams in the distance

The roads start to get steeper as you climb out of the valleys and up into Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This road leads to the trailhead of one of the climbing routes up Mt. Adams.

Entering Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the way up the road to Mt Adams

A few miles from the climbing route trailhead, the road turns to gravel and dirt, so you turn around, head back down the mountain and up one of the other roads up Mt Adams until you can’t turn the pedals any more.

Mt Adams forest

There are many places to camp and a places if you require lodging. It’s mostly dry camping so bring plenty of water. You’ll drink lots of it riding your bike in the mountains during summer. Any towns in the area will be small, so it’s a good idea to bring everything you need. There are also places in the area to do a little trout fishing.

Bike camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

While you are packing for a trip here, don’t forget the insect repellent if you are camping. The woods are pretty wild and there are plenty of bugs. Not all the bugs are bad and most of them won’t bite.

Cascade Mountain butterfly

Stay tuned in for more cycling adventures with watermanatwork.com!

Jul 052018
 

Always nice to get away for a little mountain biking in the local Cascade Mountain foothills. There’s a lot of great riding and not nearly as crowded as some of the more well known mountain biking areas across the river in Oregon.

Forest Service road in the Cascade Mountain foothills

The trails are in pretty good shape, starting to get a little dusty in the corners, but green and pretty fresh. Not too many people, but plenty of bugs.

Cascade Mountain singletrack

There was some big-time road work going on one of the main Forest Service roads heading up the mountain. This usually means logging is about to begin, which is always a bit of a concern about the trails if they pass through the logging operation.

Road work on the Forest Service roads

They are laying down crushed gravel, which is pretty plush for a road that is in the middle of nowhere. Probably pretty expensive as well, that’s why it may be more likely that it is the timber company that is doing it instead of the State of Washington. The original road is dirt, then there is the light colored gravel from a few days ago. The darker gravel has just been dumped out of a truck and graded flat. It looks nice, but the dark gravel is like velcro. This is a pretty stiff climb as it is, this tacky gravel makes it much harder. Thankfully, there’s not much of the dark stuff and when it dries out to the lighter colored gravel, the road surface is really nice.

New surface on the Forest Service road

If there is any logging, hopefully it won’t ruin any of the trails. There’s more and more people using these trails all the time and we can’t really afford to lose any.

Cascade Mountain trail

Keep checking in because we have more mountain biking adventures coming up!

Jul 052018
 

The relentless wind has put a hold on the kayak fishing so off we go for a little cycling in eastern Washington. Most of the people in Washington live near the coast and there are thousands of miles of blacktop and dirt roads in the eastern part of the state that don’t get much use. When freeways were built, most of the traffic on these once main roads dropped to nearly nothing. They are roads through a time gone by.

Old farmhouse in eastern Washington

We started out by the Columbia River checking out some kayak fishing spots.

Mountain biking along the Columbia River in eastern Washington

Heading up into the hills around the Columbia River, you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood in the distance.

Cycling in eastern Washington with Mt. Hood in the distance

You quickly leave any traffic behind as the road winds up the hills to the north.

Winding road in the hills of eastern Washington

When you run into cattle guards at the intersections of the roads, you’ve come to a place where things are much different than in most of the United States.

Cattle guards on the roads in eastern Washington

Riding a road bike is a good way to go because you can cover more territory and see more of the countryside. Or, you can ride a mountain bike because there are plenty of dirt roads. Either way, take plenty of water because it is hot and dry. Carry a spare tube or two and everything you need for roadside repairs because there are no stores or gas stations.

Cycling the roads and trails of eastern Washington

Get away from the traffic and clouds, head east!

Jan 242018
 

We are camping out in the desert in southwest Arizona. For the most part, the weather has been really nice except for a raging sand storm that passed through the area a few days ago, followed immediately by a torrential downpour. Everything was covered with dust from the sand storm, then covered with a thin layer of mud after the rain. We were out in the desert to the north and got chased closer to town by a wildfire. This spot, protected somewhat from the wind by some scrawny desert trees, was a better place to weather the sand storm and rain.

MTB camping in the southwest Arizona desert.

The nice thing about the rain is that it made all the loose desert sand rideable for mountain bikes. There are miles of ORV trails and roads that are sand traps for bicycles until it rains, then the relatively thin bicycle tires do not sink into the deep sand.

Sandy ORV road becomes rideable for bicycles after desert rain.

The day before, this road would have been completely impassible by bike, after a rain storm, it’s like riding on a cloud.

Rain makes all the difference for desert mountain biking.

There are miles of gravel/dirt roads along irrigation canals with roads that lead off into the desert.

Biking bikes on dirt roads along irrigation canals in southwest Arizona.

Water is everything in the desert. Only a short distance away from any source of water, the vegetation quickly turns into the harsh desert.

Dirt road leading off into the desert.

There’s plenty of regular old desert as well. This is the beginning of a local mountain range. Didn’t take long to be reminded that some sort of tire sealant is absolutely necessary. There are unlimited thorns in varying sizes, you’re going to hit them. Luckily, the local Walmart has Slime tubes for my old 26″ rims(they had 29″ as well), Presta or Schrader valves for $7.

Arizona desert near the foothills of a local mountain range.

Looks like a sustained stretch of windy weather coming up so kayak fishing is probably on hold. I’ve see local guys riding mountain bikes around to the local fishing spots, I may give that a try. Don’t want to get caught out in one of these sand storms.

Dec 122017
 

Even though we are primarily on a fishing expedition, we have time to go for a bike ride when the fishing is not happening. We are camped out in the Arizona desert near Yuma, AZ, where there are plenty of places to ride bikes, especially on the hundreds of miles of gravel roads.

Camping at Fortuna Pond near Yuma, AZ

There is plenty of sandy singletrack and desert hills, but recently we’ve been grinding the gravel roads along the many irrigation canals, exploring the area for potential fishing spots. The roads are washboard gravel with a generous helping of dust.

Gravel road riding outside of Yuma, AZ

You get a break from the dust by stopping along the irrigation canals. This is the Gila Gravity Canal, one of the major water sources in the area. We were looking for places to fish.

Gravel grinding near the Gila Gravity Canal

This is a “switching station” of pumps and gates that divert water from the main canals into smaller irrigation canals. If it was not for this water, this area would be desert wasteland. Because of the imported water, this area provides a great deal of the fresh vegetables during the North American winter.

Irrigation canal gates in the Arizona desert

We’ll be heading a bit more off road in the future, so stay tuned!

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 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.