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.

Aug 162017

One of our potato cams was acting up yesterday so we were not able to post some of the mountain biking photos from our most recent adventures, so here’s a few additional photos. We will be so happy when the new camera comes in, hopefully tomorrow.

We had planned on riding in the Mt. Hood National Forest, but it was too dusty and pretty crowded so we only camped overnight and left early the next morning. When nature is involved, you have to be flexible

MTB camping in the Mt Hood National Forest

There are plenty of switchbacks on the steep Forest Service roads through the Cascade Mountains

Cycling on SW Washington Forest Service roads

This section of road could use a few more switchbacks, instead it is a grueling climb up a steep, rocky Cascade Mountain ramp. This is the ominous black tunnel to the top of the mountain

Steep climb to the top of the mountain

The Forest Service roads connect to remote singletrack bike trails

SW Washington singletrack

The trails have some challenging features, like this off camber switchback. When you’re out here in the middle of nowhere, better be sure you can make it because it’s a long way to the emergency room…

Off camber switchback on SW Washington mountain bike trail

Stay tuned for more cycling photos. We may even get out there fishing again if the fish decide to start biting again. We’re in a pretty good spot to see the solar eclipse this Monday so we will probably be adding to the millions of Eclipse 2017 photos on the internet as well.

Aug 152017

It’s been mostly hot and windy, the fishing is terrible so why not head off for some mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains? We’ve been having a great time lately packing up the bikes and heading into the mountains, getting back into that great feeling of flying down PacNW singletrack.

Headed up into the mountains for some mountain biking

We checked out the “brand name” trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest, but the trails were dry, dusty and mostly blown out from all the use. Some of the trails in this area have gotten too famous for their own good and the increased rider traffic has taken it’s toll. There were a lot of vehicles roaming around so we decided to try our luck across the Columbia River in Washington, which turned out to be a good move. The trails there, not nearly as well known, were in much better condition.

Mountain biking on SW Washington singletrack

We camped out at a primitive camping area. Most of the camping is pretty primitive in these parts, which we don’t mind, but you must bring everything you need with you. This is known as “dry camping” because there are no facilities like running water or toilets. This kind of camping is something we do all the time, so we know what to take and what to leave at home.

Mountain bike camping

The trails around here are really great. Hardly any other riders, local people mostly, and the trails remain in pretty good shape because the local riders have a tendency to not destroy the trails in their neck of the woods. This is rugged, mountainous country so you have to be prepared for anything. If you are willing to venture off the beaten path, you’ll find plenty of places like this.

Prime SW Washington singletrack

These are the Cascade Mountains and there is plenty of climbing to go along with the great downhills. We are working into mountain biking shape and are starting to be able to climb to the tops of some of the local peaks. The climb up to this peak is a brutally steep haul up rough Forest Service roads. It’s a great view from the top and a really killer downhill as payback for the hard climbing required to get up here.

On a mountain peak in the Cascade Mountains of SW Washington

We’re in town for a few days to take care of business, then we’ll be off on another road trip. We’d like to get some fishing in, but the smallmouth bass fishing is not that good, salmon season will be getting under way in a couple weeks, so we might just wait for the big fish and continue our fun mountain biking adventures.

We’ve also been scraping by with some pretty crappy camera gear. We’ve been using Panasonic Lumix cameras for a few years, but they only seem to last about two years. These are not cheap point and shoot cameras, they cost nearly $400. That’s a little bit too much to pay for a camera that only lasts a couple years, so we are back to camera brands we’ve trusted for years and are awaiting the delivery of a new Canon PowerShot G9X, so you can expect the run of somewhat below standard photo quality to come to an end. Stay tuned.