Berry Patch Secrets

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Berry Patch Secrets

Postby stumphugger » Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:24 am

Is there any other region where berry picking is a tradition? Patches are kept secret. Super secret. As in not brushing out roads and hiking into secret. Kind of sounds like pot growing.

We pick huckleberries next month. That's when they ripen up in the woods. I've been picking off and on since age 5. Nowdays, we have more problems to deal with. The huckleberry has become popular in restaraunts, candles, lotions, etc. We now have vans full of commercial pickers to hide our spots from. A couple years ago, I returned to my old reliable patch only to find 3 large van loads of pickers stripping it. I have abandoned that one.

I agree with the local tribes' beliefs that huckleberries are special and shouldn't be sold. I freeze some and use them for pies around the holidays. I can berries and give those away as special gifts. The berries are rare and special.

I was out checking my new super secret got to drive in on a horrible road then walk in a ways, then give the password to the troll...just kidding on the last part. The brush was in bloom and the bees were working.

I'd like to camp out in my Little Guy, but the roads are so bad that just driving up can be hard. So, that is out of the question. I will commute. The formerly secret patch used to have a good road to it. So good that my folks could tow a large fifth wheel trailer up there and camp. Now it has waterbars that make it hard to drive in unless you have pretty high clearance.

Huckleberry patches are becoming fewer. Pickers are becoming more numerous.
We used to have a good, reliable source of new patches from clearcuts on the National Forest here. That practice has stopped, the last clearcuts were done in the 1990s and the trees are filling in. The Tribal People used to burn the areas in the correct elevations, but of course, that stopped a long time ago. Scrubby lodgepole has taken over a lot of that country.

So, we hunt and find and keep our patches secret. I can't wait.
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Postby doris s. » Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:57 am

My kids love huckleberry. We had huckleberry icecream for the first time in Montana. It is fantastic. Apparently bears need to eat them for the high sugar content so they can gain weight for hibernation.

Have fun looking for some new huckleberry patches!

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Postby High Desert » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:04 am

oh man, I love huckleberries. For the flavor and the memories that flavor always brings (PNW native). Best of luck on your search, a good hidden patch is a real gem. 8)
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Postby Mukilteo » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:40 am

The road to Ipsut Creek campground on the north side of Mt. Rainier had a lot of locations. Google Earth the area and look for clearcut spots.
I have to admit I haven"t been up there sence 1980. I used to backpack the north side of the park a lot. Fewer people.
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Postby dreadcptflint » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:52 am

I started my wife picking last year. Even the four year old gets into it. Yes, we have been out a couple of times this year. We even made:

Image

I tend to pick in rougher terrain and have never encountered another picker. Oh yeah, the last spot that I picked berries was the camp ground. ;)
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Postby Miriam C. » Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:09 pm

:o Didn't know they are Huckleberries, but I do know where there are lots of them growing on the side of the road! :twisted:
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Postby Mukilteo » Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:40 pm

What I call huckleberries are red on the west side of the mountains.
My ex was from Ronan, MT. and to her huckleberries were blue.
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Postby Mukilteo » Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:47 pm

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Red Huckleberry
Vaccinium parvifolium
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Postby dreadcptflint » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:43 pm

Miriam C. wrote::o Didn't know they are Huckleberries, but I do know where there are lots of them growing on the side of the road! :twisted:


It is a pretty easy type of plant to identify. Once I provided a little bit of guidance, my wife really got how to find them. Yeah, we can drive along the road and find patches pretty easy. Here is a little guide to help you out: http://wildhuckleberry.com/category/picking-wild-huckleberries/

We usually stick with the dark purple berries as those make the tastiest pies. We will probably go out a couple more times this year. If you are in the Washington area and want to go looking for some berries then let me know and I will let you know when and where you can find us for some berry magic.
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Postby Ageless » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:29 pm

Mukilteo; both the red and blue on the west side. The red's tend to be tarter. We used to find good patches along the side roads off FS 70 (Greenwater River)
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Postby Corwin C » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:31 am

I have a little patch of wild strawberries that I pick every summer. Tiny strawberries (I've never seen one even as big as a grape), but the flavor ... You can't buy anything like those anywhere. I also pick choke cherries, elderberries, bullberries, wild raspberries, etc. I've never run into huckleberries here ... need to watch closer.
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Postby stumphugger » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:04 am

My patch is later than last year. The late snow slowed things down. I'll check on it this week maybe.

There's red huckleberries, but I pick the purple ones. The brush is higher here than at Stampede Pass and I always have a dog around just in case a bear is also picking. You could pick in the same patch with a bear and not know it.

I lived on the Oregon Coast and had huckleberries in my yard but they were small and tart. They were not the same. I came here and camped and picked the good berries. Mmmmm.
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Postby rebapuck » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:59 pm

It's not just the wild places you have to protect. A friend has a cherry tree in her front yard. When she got home one day, a neighbor told her a truck with a cherry-picker backed up and stripped it. What can you do?
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Postby navigator » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:18 am

We pick raspberries at 9,000' A forest fire several years ago opened up the canopy, and the bushes grow thick across the hillsides. Locals call 'em "thimbleberries." My wife uses them to make jelly.
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Postby doris s. » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:39 pm

Rasperry jelly sounds great!

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