Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Huckleberry picking and hiking Granite Falls

One of our big daytime activities during our Priest Lake camping trip was huckleberry picking. We don't really have a lot of huckleberries here in Oregon, but any trip to Northern Idaho or Montana and one is sure to find lots of huckleberry flavored items or berries for sale. The website for the campground mentioned huckleberry picking and I thought it would be a great opportunity. Plus I could bring some home to make huckleberry syrup!
Mr. H had asked a few people for good spots to pick berries, but apparently huckleberry patch locations are just as protected as surf spots, no local is going to give you good advice because they want to keep the best for themselves. We were advised to drive along one of the old logging roads so we pulled over when we decided this dusty spot was a s good as any. In addition to all their camping innovations, the H's are also very prepared with bear bells. The had enough for every child and we were on the lookout for any black bears whose berry patch we might be pilfering.
We outfitted everyone with plastic cups for gathering berries and spread out through the brush, occasionally doing voice checks to make sure no one wandered too far away and that everyone was in reach lest a bear appear. Wild huckleberry picking is tedious work, the berries don't grow very densely on the bushes so you have to search around to find more bushes in order to make much progress. But these berries were perfectly right, somehow our timing was ideal.With so much talk of bears, and signs of bears, I convinced myself that this was a bear patch. I kept finding branches covered with bear fur from as I imagined them scratching themselves. It turns out that this is a type of lichen call dead man's beard according to Mr. H, but I didn't know that until later. I sure was nervous!We picked berries for about an hour and we were all pretty hot, dusty, and tired and ready to call it quits. This is how much our family ended up with. The twins became berry snatchers so you had to defend your collection.We loaded back up into our rigs, to use and Idaho term, and continued down the road to the Granite Falls trail head where we had a picnic lunch. This trail also leads to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars. I was excited to see the giant trees here. On the hike up we were able to see some of the granite rock. A little peek at the waterfall. I also was smitten with some of the tiny native flowers in bloom. I always have my eye out for native plants that might be good for naturscaping.However Northern Idaho is a pine forest so the landscape is still a bit of a novelty for me.Near the top we reached a viewing platform for the waterfall. Now that I have children these things make me a bit nervous. I understand why my mom used to freak out so much. Granite Falls.There was a big rock ledge near to top which was even more nerve wracking. About this point someone began to have a melt down, so rather than continuing on to the top to see the ancient cedars with the Hs, we began the decent to the parking lot. There was a few giant cedar trees down there so we contented ourselves with some photos with them.I can't really fault a 3 yr old for being so tired after such an activity filled day. Not that he naps anymore anyway, but he certainly deserved a rest.

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