The sun is lower in the sky, the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping; summer is just about over here in the Pacific Northwest. We are getting in our last mountain bike rides of the summer in the Cascade Mountains before the winter rains begin.
We packed up with supplies and headed back to the mountains for the last week or so of bike riding. The early morning sun is low in the sky and barely shines through the dense forest. No need to get going early to beat the heat this time of year. More likely to hang around camp until it warms up a bit.
The trails and roads are still in mid summer condition; dry and dusty. There are more clouds and it’s getting colder, especially at night, but no relief from the summer’s record heat. Fire danger is still extreme.
In a place where the weather changes quickly and often, it was bone dry until one morning it started to drizzle. That drizzle turned into steady rain and within a few hours, the dry and dusty conditions turned into the moist dirt that bike riders look forward too. I wasn’t a lot of rain, but enough to knock down the trail dust and wash the dust from the leaves of the plants and trees.
The cloudy and wet conditions are more typical of the Cascade Mountains than the hot and dry weather we’ve been having. Fall is here and will probably be a short season before the heavy rain and snow arrives.
The trail dust was gone, at least for a while, and the dust was washed off the bushes and trees making everything look a little greener again, even on a cloudy day.
Dry, dusty trails are hard on bikes and bike parts, the fine “moon dust” getting into every nook and cranny of the bike. Riding in the rain and on wet trails has problems of its own. The dust is now mud and it sticks to the bike like glue. With conditions like this, the bike must be cleaned and lubed after every ride.
The morning after the rain was clear and sunny but all my bike riding gear was soaking wet from the previous days ride in the rain. As the sun peeked through the forest trees, I moved my gear around to keep in the sun to dry out so I could go riding.
It was a beautiful morning after the previous days rain, so for the last day of riding we decided to take the Grand Tour and ride up towards the Mt. Adams Wilderness. On the way up the mountain you could still see remnants of the passing storm as the last remaining clouds parked above Mt. Adams.
The storm was clearing out and the clouds were moving fast in the wind. It was a relief to have a clear day without dust. A great day for the final ride of the summer in the Cascade Mountains.
We rode on a forest service road that wound around several smaller volcanic mountain peaks and through the ancient lava flows up towards Mt Adams. Knowing it was the last ride of the season, we took our time to enjoy the beautiful early fall day.
We turned around and headed down the forty five minute downhill ride back to the camp. We stopped for one last photo and just like that, the summer mountain biking season in the Cascades was over.
The bikes are packed away and we’ll be heading south for kayak fishing on the Colorado River so it’s time to switch from the “Cycling” section of the watermanatwork.com blog to the “Kayak Fishing” section for great kayak fishing action.