February 13, 2015

Raspberries Growing Below Willows

Last August I got out for a solo day of wet wading the various creeks around Willow Creek. I seldom wet wade. I don't like the feeling of soggy feet ground up by sand and pebbles. But the day was just too nice to wear waders. I started low in the canyon and catching success increased the higher I fished up. After lunch I decided to venture into a deep canyon as storm clouds started rolling in. I didn't plan to go very far in as it was getting cold and I suspected my chicken legs would need the comfort of waders soon.
The water was quite skinny and the fish spooked easy. But that only made the reward that much sweeter when fishy lips met feathers. The pursuit of fish and subsequent adrenaline lulled my body into a dream state. Before I knew it, I was about a mile deeper into the crevasse. The thought of hiking out made me delay my retreat, so I just continued deeper in.

Willow Creek proper has a mix of Browns and Bows. But there are a few tucked away spots on this mountain that an occasional Cutt and Brookie can be found; today I landed all four.

~~~Just a week prior, I took the boys on an exploratory drive past the Brook Meadow. The road became very rough the further we drove. At the summit, along the edge of the cliff, wild raspberries littered the hillside. I grew up picking wild Huckleberries on Emily Mountain in eastern Oregon and I was excited to share the experience of picking wild berries with the boys. But unfortunately all the berries were dull green.~~~
As I tucked under some brush to avoid the rain, I noticed red against green and was happy to discover RIPE! wild raspberries. I picked a few and was taken back to my childhood when I would compete with my sister for the domestic raspberries in our back yard. I put my rod down, drank the last of my Gatorade, and began filling the empty container with raspberries. After that patch was picked clean, I took a step back and looked for my next fix. The steep hillside was littered with red polka dotted green clusters. The problem was I was in Teva sandals and the fresh rain only complicated matters. 
I spent the next couple hours filling up the rest of my container and hiked out of the canyon. I love how the world melts away when I'm fishing and much the same happens when berry picking. I packed the berries away in my cooler and fished a little more before heading home. As I drove down the canyon, I kept an eye out for more berry patches. I didn't find any, but I did find a cool looking barn...
I got home and shared my berry stash with the family. We put them in pancakes that night and made homemade ice cream the next night. I bought The Rocky Mountain Berry Book and began studying to find what else I could pick in my area. This was the start of a month-long obsession with wild edibles in Utah. I found raspberries, sour cherries, gooseberries, thimbleberries, Oregon grape, serviceberries, rose hips, and picked some apples after the first freeze. One of our favorite treats the past few months (now running scarcely low) has been RaspberryGooseberryStrawberry jam. I now know next August will be set aside for accumulating A LOT more berries!

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