Most hiking days seem to have as an objective; surrounding oneself with the natural world, getting exercise, climbing to a viewpoint and just looking around.
Yesterday, the added treat of foraging for HUCKLEBERRIES added another dimension to what was already an enjoyable time with friends in the mountains. John Flaa, Suzanne Grieve, and their son, Erik and I hiked through the splendor of faded wildflower meadows, jutting rockslabs, and winding alpine trails to the summit of Eagle Pass Mountain (7500 ft.) in the Monashees west of Revelstoke.
Yes, 'tis the season of harvest! Berries ripe on the vine. Food for wildlife and a few humans. Until this day I had never really gone out to specifically pick enough berries to make a pie with. Usually, I've munched as I travelled between places solely for a wee burst of energy and flavour. But here we were with a MISSION!
Left Revy about 8:30 a.m. in John's '97 GMC van, cutting up the Crazy Creek FSR about 15kms. to the trailhead at 4000 ft. Ascent through cedar/ hemlock forest ,ripe with the understory of huckleberries, thousands of them shining in the sunlight. Traversing meadows of flowers past their prime and the sign of
grizzly bear activity through overturned sod and rock. Pretty fresh.
The views are limited by the smoke filled air from all the forest fires in the area and the lack of any clearing breeze. At the same time, a certain atmosphere and drama presides in a landscape so muted. Fact is, you usually only find air this smokey in large urban areas. (I'm reminded of peering in vain for Popocatapetl form the balcony of a hostel in Mexico City).
We arrive at the summit around noon and hunker down in the shade of the remaining stone walls of the fire lookout building. Views down to Twin Lakes, and just beyond. Somewhere in the haze, is Perry River and the Shuswap.
After lunch and photos we descend to the forest and, heavily doused with bug spray, begin the picking. It's pretty obvious that John and Suzanne are either experienced, motivated , or both as they quickly fill their buckets with the fat berries. We call out often to alert any bruins of our prescence. It's interesting to see the conditions that create lush bushes of fat juicy fruit and the otherwise dry wizened offerings. Moisture and not too much direct sunlight
Most interesting to me was our unhurried pace today. Time slowed as we foraged thru the bushes. It made for a more satisfying day to have more on our minds than hike, climb, summit, return.
Further adventure ensued when the van's transmission cacked out 5k from Revy. Suzanne and I walked down the TCH to call a tow truck! That was a switch. Despite the hassle, and what may be a looming repair bill, good spirits prevail. We tow to the Big Eddy garage and then carry on up to J and S's house in Arrow Heights.
What a DAY!
Beers and a barby at John and Suzanne's capped it all off in beautiful fashion, with the possibility, in the near future, of Huckleberry Pie!
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