With blue-stained fingers and lips,
the victorious huckleberry hunters
traipse into the kitchen
with buckets of tiny, intensely flavored,
We read this on a website discussing the pleasures of hand-picked huckleberries. We know that pleasure first-hand!
But we get ahead of ourselves.
Our goal today was a beautiful hike in the area, representative of this northern British Columbia region. Several resources suggested we climb the Sleeping Beauty Mountain Trail in Sleeping Beauty Mountain Provincial Park. As an added benefit, it was just nearby our campground.
We started a 10-mile drive up gravel forest road --
-- and eventually reached a parking area, where we left Dusty the Jeep to wait for us to return.
It was a mile's hike further up a rough gravel forest road to reach the park boundary and the official trailhead:
Once we started on the official trail, it did not leave any doubt of its intentions. We started straight UP at a rate of perhaps 900 feet per mile. We climbed and we climbed. Along the way, the trail was sprinkled with a wide variety of types of mushrooms and fungi. This was only one of them:
Limestone or granite cliffs (we couldn't tell which) stood tall above our trail, as Kathy demonstrates in the photo below:
It wasn't long before we got a view to the south, across the Skeena River and -- in this photo -- to the west across the Kalum River:
Here is another fun guy we spotted as we climbed. This one was remarkable for the dewy droplets on its haunches:
After over 2 miles of climbing, we finally reached a huge ledge with alpine wetlands, meadows and ponds. It was amazing how many bushes of wild blueberry and huckleberry were scattered along the trail!
We reached a point on the trail where a wetland stream bed climbed up to a ledge --
-- and we followed it. This was not a trail but an undulating ribbon of wetland plants that are colored a beautiful orange-brown, different from the surrounding green ground cover:
We eventually reached our lunch spot, which gave us a view northward up the Kalum River Valley, and we had bonuses of orange wetland plants and a few small kettle ponds:
This is a view of Kalum Lake and Kalum River from where we ate our lunch:
There were so many berries! While the plants along the lower reaches of the trail looked picked over, we found an abundance of huckleberries and wild blueberries up where we ate lunch. We decided to make our return hike a berry picking festival. It wasn't long before our hands were stained purple from our picking:
By the time we returned to the mile-long forest road at the bottom of our hike, we had filled two Nalgene bottles with bush berries and were eagerly anticipating the things we could make with them: berry sauce for our salmon, berry pancakes, berry Sourdough scones or muffins. Perhaps even berry pie!
Just in case you think we exaggerate, here is a photo of our day's take -- two full Nalgene bottles, 2 quarts of huckleberries and blueberries!
Kathy promptly bagged them into one-cup portions and shoved them in the freezer. We can't wait to try them!