Hiking


Nuts! I was captivated by this little guy today.  I was sitting and watching him go NUTS, gathering food, digging a hole and burying it. He did it about 5 or 6 times, his little cheeks were just stuffed each time, and then he would dig a hole, drop it in, and go back for more!  He was funny to watch.  Guess I’m able to relate, after having been driven NUTS all week from today’s  wedding.  Another Happy Fall shot, too bad it is a little blurry, but this guy was just so fast,  I couldn’t get a great shot.  I missed the craziest shot with his stuffed cheeks, posing for the camera, gotta be quick to catch a shot of this NUTTY guy.  Gorgeous day in Seattle, but I’m  glad my NUTTY weekend is over!

A friend sent me Amy Stewart’s new book called Wicked Plants because she said it seemed like it was right up my alley. I’m in the business of plants and flowers,  nothing much bother’s me, but this book has certainly given even me a new appreciation about some of the dangers of plants!  I hope to never have contact with any of the ones she mentions in her book although I have used monkshood in floral designs. Then I read in her book that just touching the plant can cause cardiac problems..well I know that reading about it causes cardiac problems for sure!  Yikes! I’ll never use that plant in my flower arrangements again!

Maybe that book has made me more aware of my wild friendly surroundings.  Today while up in the mountains, I was looking at plants through a new set of eyes.  That nasty devils club, I went way out of my way to avoid it!  I found this little three leafed plant with red berries, I stayed far away from that too

Little red berry hiding under the bear grass

Little red berry hiding under the bear grass

LOL!

Then there was the monster plant that looked like something from the dinosaur era, I think it looked like skunk cabbage, but I don’t think I’d eat it!

Another imaginary wicked plant from Amy's book

Dinosaur plant?

BEAR what??

BEAR what??

Then I stumbled upon these clumps of grass, and when the wind kicked up and the brush started to move I began to wonder if BEARS had anything to do with Bear grass, is it wicked too? These grasses grow in the vicinity of HuckleBEARies?  Hmmm?

Then I finally found a friendly plant, fireweed, it’s purple and it’s pretty and it makes good honey, and the best part.. it wasn’t mentioned in Amy Stewarts book  of ” Wicked Plants” !  Things are looking up!

Friendly non wicked plant

Friendly non wicked plant

As my hunt for huckleberries progressed, I ran across this pretty group of plants, and since I think one was either hemlock which has a wicked sounding name, or maybe it was yew, which has wicked red poisonous berries and the other one had wicked spiny barbs, I decided it was only  “pretty”  from a distance!

Pretty from a distance?

Pretty from a distance?

Then I finally found the jewel I was looking for, huckleberry bushes, but by now I am having moments of doubt, are these a part of the wicked plant family too? Remember those Bearies?

Finally a nice plant!

Finally a nice plant!

Now that I have survived my hiking trip,  I’ve decide that I really really love and enjoyed Amy Stewart’s new book called Wicked Plants, but  it’s not a good book to take on a hiking trip to the woods unless you have nerves of steel!

There are 12 species of Huckleberries that are native to Washington & Oregon.  This uncultivated cousin to the blueberry grows at between 2000 & 11000 ft elevation in acidic mountain soil. If you haven’t tasted one, you are missing a treat!  They do not taste like blueberries as some folks suggest.  There are a uniquely tart flavor, much more intense in flavor that a blueberry and they only grow in the wild.  They make the best jam, pies, and taste wonderful with salmon!  It’s always a guess as to when they are going to be available, this year they are a little earlier than years past.  Sometimes we harvest them as late as October, but we decided to go up to the mountains today and check them out.  Our favorite spot ws closed by the forest service, but I have another secret spot that I’ve been going to for the past 20 years.  Not the easiest place to get to, but well worth the effort. I always suggest you go with someone the first few times so you learn what to look for and what to harvest, as there are a few other berries that look similar and are not edible.  But the huckleberry wood is distinct and easily recognizable once you learn.  I can spot them from the car, which always amazes my husband.  Here are some photo’s from today’s huckleberry picnic, a NW tradition in our family!

Hucklebberries in the NW

Hucklebberries in the NW

Huckleberries at Snoqualmie

Huckleberries at Snoqualmie

August 2009 Huckleberry Season

August 2009 Huckleberry Season

Berry picking at high elevation

Berry picking at high elevation

Forest in tne National forest before the climb up

Forest in the National forest before the climb up

Perfect for a huckleberry picnic

Perfect for a huckleberry picnic