Fairbanksians, Alaskans, and berry fanatics everywhere be advised : IT’S BERRY SEASON! 🙂 So, find your favorite spot, and start picking!
Kassie and I headed out to my favorite berry barrens outside of town today. With a cool, wet summer, we expected to find lots of green berries, but were excited to find lots of ripe blueberries! The first wave of blues have just come into season, and there’s a great crop of green berries in the chamber, ripening up behind them.
I will admit I lacked a bit of judgement on the trip. I wanted to take Kassie down to my “top secret” spot. It’s my little gem of local knowledge that I found the last autumn while out harvesting. However, the hike to the bottom brings you down a very steep grade, through an alder thicket that resists your ever move, and across uneven terrain full of pot-holes. The whole bushwhack lasts for about .6 miles. When we arrived, the berries were plentiful, but green. That meant straight back uphill! The bugs on the way back lived up to the Alaskan standard of a thick, buzzing cloud. I could wipe 10 or 15 from a shoulder at a time. On the way back I tried to skirt the alder thicket which only added more distance to the grueling hike; the moss which carpets the hillside eats step up like you are wearing moon boots. Fortunately, she didn’t beat me up when we were back at the top – I wouldn’t have blamed her.
There were many other things to marvel and look at during the day. We found only one cloud berry, but many, many plants. For some reason they are not producing fruit this year. Also, the low-bush cranberries do not seem to be yielding many berries. I did find my first high-bush cranberries of the year. I didn’t know they could be more tart than when you eat them in the fall, but the ones I tried had the same effect in my mouth as chewing cotton. Dry, dry, dry! In the barrens, patches of red and white club mosses colored the ground. Fireweed grew in small stalks and patches.
By the end of the day we could have been more efficient (grueling hike taking up most of the time), but we still managed to pick almost a half gallon of ripe, delicious berries. Pies, muffins, and pancakes to come!