How to Find a Berry Patch

This was originally posted June 22, 2015 but didn’t post correctly. Today I had an extra day of whale watching as they were short-handed.  The company is so good to me I was happy to do it.  Bluebird day.  Flat calm.  And whales were bubble net feeding. The calves that can’t participate wowed us with breaching. I wanted to get some salmon berries this year, as I’ve heard they are already out but did not know where to go here, even after going on 20 years in town.  I’d thought I’d seen salmon berry bushes up at Eaglecrest when I was hooter hunting and gathering greens, so I headed back to the fiddle head spot.  What a change. After crossing the creek and breaking into the open the landscape was mostly ferns.  Everywhere.  About waist high. I found a few patches of what I thought were salmon berries but only saw a few berries that were small and green and others with just the blossom back left. So I headed back to the truck and thought I’d look along the road further up to the ski area parking lot.  After making the loop and starting back down, there was a couple who flagged me down and asked for a ride down the hill.  Sure I said, wondering – did they walk all the way up here? As we drove down the hill I asked the male where he worked.  McDowell Group he says.  I used to work there I said.  When he told me his name, we realized I worked with his aunt at the legislature.  When I said I was up there looking for salmon berries, they both said – go to, well, a certain spot that’s easily accessible.  They said I could pick all I wanted with ease.   When I asked what they were doing at Eaglecrest, they said they’d walked a trail up from the N. Douglas Hwy to a mountain and swung down to Eaglecrest.  They asked if I’d ever but up the mountain, and I replied “not on purpose!”. I dropped them back at their vehicle and headed to the supposed honey hole of salmon berries.  I was not disappointed.  Berries galore.  Yellow ones and red ones.  Everywhere.  All within 50 yards from the road. I realized when I got home I get an adrenelin rush when I’m in a gathering frenzy like that. My mind is clear.  There is produce everywhere.  I will never pick it all.  Maybe this is what heaven is like. I picked till it was getting dark.  My pack was pretty heavy coming out.  I got home and measured what I got.  30 cups of berries plus a couple cups of juice.  2 cups shy of 2 gallons.  And I easily had the full 2 gallons but stumbled and took a header down a stream bed and lost several cups in the process.  I vac packed the berries for a later jam session, and now know I’ll be obsessed to continue picking for the next several weeks until the salmon berry season is over.  Life is freakin’ good.

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