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 watermanatwork.com

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 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!

Jun 042019

Ever since being involved in a serious vehicle accident where I was hit from behind by a 40 ton semi doing 50mph while stopped for a construction zone flagman, my physical activities have been limited due to injuries sustained in the wreck.

As you might imagine, being hit by a semi truck is quite a shot. An NFL player is out for the season after being hit by a 290 pound guy running 5mph, I was hit by 80,000 pounds moving 50 mph! I suffered a concussion when I was knocked out by the impact and a number of injuries to my neck, back, hips and legs.

To make matters worse, much worse, both my insurance company, Progressive Insurance and the truck driver’s insurance company, Starr Indemnity & Liability Company, refused to pay for any medical expenses or damage resulting from the accident. You can see more details about the accident here, but the accident left me injured and essentially bankrupt.

Anyway, back to the biking. Injured, broke and winter arriving in the Columbia River Gorge, I headed to the Arizona desert to try and regain my health without any money for medical treatment of any kind. I needed decent weather so I could rehab my injuries.

For about a month following the accident, I could not do much of anything. I was in pain all the time with only OTC ibuprofen to take the edge off. I could only sleep a few hours a night because of the pain. It took everything I had to retain a positive attitude after what had happened to me.

After a couple months, I was able to start walking. Slowly at first, the first couple weeks I was only able to walk about a quarter mile or so. Since I was able to walk more than twenty miles before the accident, seeing how badly I was injured was pretty depressing. All I could do was get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other.

One foot in front of the other for desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

Slowly, I was able to increase the distance I was able to walk. Exercise during the day meant pain at night, but I did not have many options. Getting up in the morning was very painful. It took about an hour just to loosen up to move around. A couple times, I lost all feeling from my lower back down. I had to go to the ER, they told me there wasn’t much they could do. That was very scary, not being able to feel my legs. All I could do was keep walking and hope for the best.

Walking is desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

In addition to walking, I also included stretching and strength training to the rehab regimen. Stretching, especially for my lower back, hips and legs, was a daily routine. Push ups, jumping jacks and low weight, high repetition exercises; all part of the program. It worked for the Marines, I was sure it would work for me.

Exercise and stretching is desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

After seven long months, I am able to ride a bike again. Bike riding is a big part of my life and this is a very important step on the comeback trail. I estimate that I am about 30% of what I was before the accident. All the doctors said it would be a long recovery, they were right. At least I’m back in the saddle and back on the road.

Jan 222019

If you follow this blog or know me personally, you would know that I was injured in a serious accident. I was stopped for a flagman in a night construction zone on US 97 near Chiloquin, OR when I was rear ended by a forty ton semi truck doing 50 mph that did not even slow down. As you might imagine, I took quite a shot. I was knocked unconscious and could barely move. I had no broken bones, but a couple inches either way, both the flagman and I would have been killed. My truck was destroyed, most of the stuff in the camper was crushed.

Rear ended by 40 ton semi doing 50mph while stopped for flagman in road construction zone

This is one of the last photos of the truck; 25mpg, solar power, equipped to spend up to a week off grid.

Last mountain bike trip to the Cascade Mountains for the Toyota pickup truck

Here’s the truck on the last bike riding/camping trip on the mountain roads around Mt. Adams in Washington.

Last bike trip to the Cascade Mountains for the Toyota pickup truck

To make matters worse, both my insurance company, Progressive Insurance, and the insurance company of the reckless truck driver, Gallagher Bassett, have refused to pay for any expenses resulting from the accident. I can’t say much more about this due to legal issues, but if you have either of these insurance companies, I beg you to go elsewhere. My life has been turned upside down, but I am working my way back.

Number one is my health. I took a real beating in the accident. For about a week following the wreck, I could barely move. The worst injuries are to my back, neck, hips and legs, especially on the left side. While I suffered no broken bones, doctors have told me my ligaments and tendons are stretched and it will take a long time to recover.

With no medical coverage from insurance and with all the financial fallout from the accident, I can’t afford any medical treatment so it is up to me to work myself back in shape. It’s been about three months since the accident, some of the soreness and pain has dissapated, but the majority of the pain in by back, hips and legs is still there. At times, it feels like my left leg is going to pop out of the hip socket. I have not had a complete night’s sleep since before the accident, those nights add up and start to have an effect on you.

My rehab routine consists of walking, stretching and basic calisthetics to try and restore flexibility and strength to my lower back, hips and legs. I have not been able to ride a bicycle since before the accident and judging the progress I have made so far to regain fitness, I think it will be at least another two or three months before I am able to even try and ride a bike.

I’ll be documenting my rehab process for anyone else who suffers similar injuries without having a pile of cash, maybe help them on what can be a long road back. That won’t be all that exciting, but I’ll be back with more mountain biking from great riding spots soon. Mountain bikers are used to being knocked down once in a while. We always get back on the bike.

Oct 022018

The Deschutes River is well known as a classic trout, steelhead and salmon fishing river in eastern Oregon. Kind of a “River Runs Through It” scenario but there are plenty of guided river trips with small tent camps on the river banks supplied by raft and boat. No fishing from boats on the Deschutes River.

The Deschutes River in eastern Oregon

On the east side of the Deschutes River is the Deschutes River Trail. It’s more like Deschutes River Dirt Road. I’ve seen cyclists on cyclocross bikes or gravel grinders, whatever they call them these days, but you would have to pay attention. A mountain bike allows you to check out the great scenery, of which there is plenty.

There was a good deal less nice scenery this time around due to a very large wildfire. The entire east side of the river is burned to ashes all the way down to the river. All the old “wild west” buildings are gone, burned to the ground. We rode fifteen miles along the Deschutes from the rivermouth on the Columbia River and did not reach the end of the burned area.

Riding mountain bikes on the Deschutes River Trail in eastern Oregon

It was hot and dusty at the end of a dry summer. A north headwind on the way back to the Columbia River made it a bit more of a workout. It was one of those days when you can almost feel what the wild west was like, a horse instead of a bicycle…

Mountain bike riding in Deschutes River canyon

We will be having more cycling adventures shortly so check back soon.

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!