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!

Jul 272018

A break in the wind and back for more kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River in eastern Washington. We had a great time the last time we were here and we were looking forward to more hot smallmouth bass fishing. Turns out the smallmouth bass fishing continues to be very good with plenty of action and some bigger fish.

The fishing was not the only thing that was hot. It was swelteringly hot, every day above 100° with night time temps only dropping into the high sixties. Full sun protection and plenty of water, but whether it’s the Pacific Northwest or the Desert Southwest, anything over 100° is really hot and you have to be prepared and take precautions.

Knowing it was going to be hot, we paddled the mile or so to the fishing spot in the early morning darkness when it was relatively cool and were fishing an hour or so before the morning sun came over the eastern Washington hills.

Columbia River sunrise kayak fishing on a hot eastern Washington day

The smallmouth bass fishing was excellent. Most of the fish were in the one pound range with some smaller ones and a few that would be close, or in the trophy bass category.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

I did manage to catch a few bigger fish and can probably say that this time, the big one probably got away because I also lost a couple big ones.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with

By the early afternoon we were usually out of water and fully baked so we paddled back to camp hoping for a following wind. It is the hottest time of the day so we hid under the desert-tested sun shade and got the fishing and camera gear ready for the next day’s early morning wakeup call.

Gearing up on a hot eastern Washington summer day

When the temperature is really hot, a little bit of shade can be a big relief. After being out in the blazing sun on the fishing kayak all day, it’s nice to relax in the shade.

Shade provides a bit of relief from the heat on a 100° day in eastern Washington

The hot, dry weather can be dangerous. One day, we came in from the Columbia River to see fires burning on both sides of our campsite. Rural firefighters sped in and out of the only road through the canyon. If the fires came too close to the road, we would have to leave, but thankfully the firefighters got the fires out before they caused too much damage. A few nervous moments though.

Wildfires burn close to kayak fishing camp

The heat and fire threat were not enough to keep us from getting after the smallmouth bass. We had three days of great kayak fishing on the Columbia River.

Jumping smallmouth bass kayak fishing on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

Had a great time fishing and got some great video, so it will be off to the editing studio for a few days to try and get that posted. I think one of my camera memory cards may have died, posssibly from the heat, so I have to try and get the photos and video off of it if I can. Keep checking in because we’ve got a lot of stuff going on.

Jul 192018

We’ve been doing as much kayak fishing for smallmouth bass in Eastern Washington as the continuing windy conditions will allow. There is so much great smallmouth bass fishing here it’s easy to see why the Columbia River is ranked as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the country. It’s been a bit on the warm side recently, but with calm wind conditions, the kayak fishing for smallmouth bass has been great.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass in Eastern WA with

The daytime temperature has been over 100°, so we’ve been getting out before sunrise to beat the heat. With the long summer days of the PacNW, it starts getting light about 4:30AM. We’ve had some great fishing before sunrise.

Hot summer morning kayak fishing on the Columbia River in Eastern WA

The smallmouth bass fishing has been about as good as it gets. With a few slow spots here and there, the bass fishing action has been non-stop.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass in Eastern WA with

Most of the fish have been in the one pound or less category. You can catch a hundred pounds of smallmouth bass in a single day but you’ll need to catch about 80-90 fish to do it. Smallmouth bass are great fighters at any size.

Nice Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The smallmouth bass were really “on the chew”. Fish were coughing up their last meals that couldn’t have been but an hour or two earlier. The smallmouth bass in the photo below had a live crayfish in it’s mouth and still hit my 4″ grub!

Columbia River smallmouth bass with live crayfish in it's mouth

Most of the smallmouth bass were “one pounders”, but I did manage to land a few nicer fish. This year seems pretty slow with the big smallmouth bass so any trophy fish is a happy time.

Big Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We’ll be headed back out in a day or two looking for more kayak fishing spots in Eastern Washington. We posted a video on YouTube of good smallmouth bass fishing and we have more video coming up of even better fishing.

The Columbia River in eastern Washington

It was a slow start to the smallmouth bass fishing season, but it’s going full steam now. The only question is how much fishing we’ll be able to do before the river seaweeds choke off the fishing.

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!

Jun 212018

Another kayak fishing trip to eastern Washington is in the books and it was a great trip. While we missed out on the state record for smallmouth bass once again, we caught so many smallmouth bass that we lost count of how many fish we caught. Lots of fish caught and a lot of half hits that didn’t stick made for plenty of smallmouth bass kayak fishing action.

The big thing is that the relentless wind we’ve had this spring and early summer died to near calm for a couple days allowing us to get out on the Columbia River and do some kayak fishing. It’s great when the sun rises on a glassy Columbia River, especially in a place known for it’s strong and consistent wind.

Sunrise on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

With very little wind, the days were sunny and hot, but not unbearable. Perfect kayak fishing conditions on the Columbia River.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River in eastern Washington

As I mentioned earlier, we did not manage to get into any trophy smallmouth bass, but caught lots of half to one pounders. Smallmouth bass are great fighters, even the smaller fish put up a great battle.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We’ve got at least a week of wind coming up that will keep us off the river so we are heading up towards Mt. Adams to do a little mountain biking. We’ve got a few more videos coming up shortly so we’ll be working on those as well. Keep checking in because we always have something going on!