The continuing unseasonably hot weather is making for hot and dusty MTB trail riding here in the Cascade Mountains of the PacNW. Everything is bone dry making for extreme fire danger. There are already a number of large wildfires burning in the PacNW and the “fire season” has barely begun. Fire season is all year these days.
The morning rides start early to do most of the major climbing before it gets too hot. As the summer sun rises in the sky, there is less and less snow to be seen on the slopes of Mt. Adams.
There are several burn areas from previous forest fires where the trees are nearly all dead and the underbrush and ground plants have taken over.
The trees in the burned out areas are dead and during the winter, some will fall and block the trail. The trail is twisting and narrow through fallen down trees.
On one of these tight trails I was brutally attacked by a bush that bayoneted my arm with a sharp branch. These are not manicured bike trails, they are trails through remote mountains. First aid kit mandatory.
One morning we decided to take a little ride around the mountain. Some singletrack, but mostly Forest Service dirt and lava rock road. Great on car tires by the way. Ride up the mountain a bit, then get on a road that winds it’s way around the mountain. Kind of a scenic gravel grinder ride. On rides like this, we’re going for distance, not for speed.
This road leads to some of the larger and most visible lava flows from a long ago eruption of Mt. Adams. The molten lava cools and turns to rock and, over the centuries, dirt and forest evolved. This road goes over the top of an ancient lava flow, now black rock.
The hot and dry weather of early summer causes a spurt in plant growth here in the Pacific Northwest. Wild blackberries are starting to get ripe. Blackberry bushes grow like wildfire and they are nature’s barbed wire. On a bike, you don’t even want to touch a blackberry bush. As the berries ripen, you have to be more alert for bears. Bikes are pretty quiet and you can roll up on a bear pretty quickly.
In the past few days the weather has been changing from clear, sunny and hot to cloudy and hot. Not much rain here this time of year, thunderstorms are more likely, which is a huge fire risk. About half the wildfires are caused by lightning.
Taking a few days off from riding to catch up on business and dial in some new gear. Kayak fishing here is a rare occurance these days, more on that depressing story later. Have to get the most out of every day, so back to the mountains in a day or two.