Aug 102020
 

As is the case just about everywhere in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on daily life here in the PacNW. The high infection rate large population centers of Portland and Seattle call the shots so the entire states of Washington and Oregon are basically shut down. The low infection rate rural communities which constitute the majority of the state’s area have been crippled by the quarantine restrictions. Areas that depend on outdoor recreation, mostly weekend warriors from the big cities, are pretty much out of business. With limited medical facilities, cities that normally encourage out of town visitors are trying to keep them away. On top of it all, there is a deep political divide in these states. Rioting in Portland is a weekend event. How long before the rest of the state loses control? Not a pretty picture.

Even in a world gone crazy, there are a few spots away from all the wonderful things civilization has given us. Thankfully, very thankfully, we live near one; the Cascade Mountains. Even here things are changing, but we can still camp in the mountains and ride our bikes. How long that will last is anybody’s guess, so we take every day we can to go riding.

Early morning mountain biking on a Cascade Mountain trail
Early morning mountain biking on a Cascade Mountain trail
Early morning mountain biking on a Cascade Mountain road

Along with everything else going on, this area, known for it’s rainy weather, is going through a drought. It doesn’t rain that much in the summer months, but no rain at all is not good. Everything is dry as a bone and fire danger is extreme. The mountain trails, in perfect conditions a few weeks ago, are dry and dusty.

Dry, dusty Cascade Mountain trail

The hot and dry conditions have an effect on the forest wildlife. This mountain butterfly was so thirsty, it was drinking the moisture from the mouthpiece of my hydration pack.

Thirsty Cascade Mountain butterfly

This butterfly was drinking from the cap of a bottle I had set down while having a drink myself.

Thirsty Cascade Mountain butterfly

And the source of a lot of the water in this area is Mt. Adams. The snow pack is gone and the glaciers are melting. Local streams and rivers running from Mt. Adams to the Columbia River are gray/green with glacial silt.

Melting glaciers on Mt Adams

After the midsummer season here in the Cascades, which lasts a couple weeks, the days are still warm but the nights are getting cooler and the sun is a bit lower in the sky.

Early morning Cascade Mountain bike camp

There is always something to see along the dry, dusty mountain bike trail. The warm and dry weather is causing the mountain berries to quickly ripen. Have to keep an eye out for bears who will eat all the berries they can get, sitting in the trail.

Wild Cascade Mountain blackberries

This is a small herd of range cattle using the trail as their living room. Usually, you can ride slowly past them, but these cows didn’t seem like they wanted to move so I went another way.

Range cattle blocking the trail in the Cascade Mountains

This ancient lava flow from an erupting Mt. Adams stopped right here.

Ancient lava flow from erupting Mt. Adams in the Cascade Mountains

We’ve just about given up on kayak fishing and going into town is like a trip into the Twilight Zone so having this respite from the troubles of the world is a gift.

Mountain biking near Mt Adams

Like everyone else, we are taking it day by day. Winter will be here soon and positive news is hard to come by. Through thick and thin, the simple fact of riding a bike, freedom to ride away, is now a precious gift.

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