Just like that, summer is over and it’s time for the summer MTB riding season wrap up. The summer weather in the PacNW is usually fantastic with long days. Just like everywhere else in the American west, this area is suffering from a prolonged drought made worse by record hot summer temperatures. Last year was the all time record heat, this year was record duration heat and nearly a record for days without rain. The trails and roads are dry and dusty with extreme fire danger. Red skies from fire smoke are now a regular feature in late summer/early fall weather.
This fire was a local fire that flared up quickly so the fire smoke had not yet reached the upper slopes of Mt. Adams.
The next day was hazy, cloudy and smoky.
The seasons change quickly in the Cascade Mountains. It’s much cooler at night and most of the morning until the sun comes up, which can take some time when the trees are tall and the sun is low in the sky.
With the riding season for us coming to an end and feeling pretty good after a season of riding in the mountains, we’ve been going for longer rides and harder climbs. The mountains are steep but the views are worth the effort sometimes. Here’s Mt. Hood about seventy miles away. Standing on one active volcano looking at another.
This area may look like the middle of nowhere, and it is to some extent, but it gets fairly busy this time of year, especially with deer hunting season coming up. Deer hunting is popular and there are more hunters every year. Normally when I ride my bike around, I usually see at least two or three deer, sometimes more. A couple weeks before deer hunting season, the deer disappear. You hardly see any deer tracks as they hide out from the hunters. There are plenty of free range cattle running around.
We escaped the cows and headed up the mountain, riding through and around the smaller volcanic peaks surrounding Mt. Adams.
Once again we ran into the gang of cattle. They didn’t look like they wanted to move so I went off in a different direction.
On one of our rides, we were standing around taking a break when we heard a loud crack a short distance away. I didn’t think much of it, thinking it might be somebody firing a large caliber rifle. When we rode back down the road, we saw that it was a falling tree that make the loud noise. We had ridden past this exact spot no more than five minutes before the tree fell.
After two months of hot and dry weather, the clouds opened up and dumped a fair amount of much needed rain in the Cascade Mountains. It was the first ride in the rain in a long time. It wasn’t that cold and it was nice to finally ride without dust.
The weather changes quickly this time of year so rain in the morning and nice in the afternoon is not uncommon and worked out because we were able to dry all our wet bike gear. Tomorrow would be the last ride of the season for us and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.
The morning of the last ride was misty from the previous days rain. The sun shining through the trees was a constant light show on the ride up the mountain.
It was clear and cool, moist and dust free. Just about perfect riding conditions. For the Grand Finale we rode the longest ride of the season, covering every road and trail on this side of the mountain. It was easy to enjoy the ride knowing in a couple months, this area will be covered with snow.
We sadly pack the bikes away for the winter while looking forward to getting back on the water for some kayak fishing. Who knows what the future will bring, but check back soon and we’ll try to keep adventure in it to the very end.