Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

While the weak stayed in Seattle to battle the torrents of rain in their houses with a cup of tea, those of us made of sterner stuff (only 2 of us, apparently) made the trek out into the wilds of Washington.

It rained at Lake Keechelus (where I will be operating a screw trap for the next three months), but after a lengthy stop at the Safeway in Cle Elum, the rain mostly stopped for the remainder of the weekend.

We stayed at Little Naches Campground in the Wenatchee National Forest.  The campground sits on the bank of the Little Naches River where it flows under Highway 410.  The whole place was reserved for the weekend, but several groups didn't show, likely due to the poor weather forecast (wimps). Ryan had reserved a site, but couldn't make it due to work obligations. After checking out the two sites, we ended up setting up in Ryan's site.  It wasn't on the water, but it was further from the road noise and had better tree placement for the tarp city.

On Saturday we hiked along a loop trail out of the Soda Springs Campground. Several years ago we walked the 500 ft to the mineral springs but didn't walk the rest of the trail (campers may remember Dad deciding the red mud made good face paint).  We started the loop counterclockwise and started to climb. The trail ran through fields of both purple trilliums and fairy's slippers.

I don't think I've ever seen purple trillium before. I was obsessed with how pretty they were and took tons of pictures, only to read in the Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (highly recommend) that white trillium turn purple with age. Also found out that the technical name for what I've always called lady's slipper is either fairy's slipper or lady's slipper "Calypso."

The other great botanical find on this hike? MORELS!!! Nom nom nom nom.  I was taking pictures of flowers and mushrooms and realized that what I had been photographing was actually edible! I'm so used to hearing "NO!!!" when I ask if I can eat things on the trail that I've pretty much stopped asking. Unless I'm with Amber. She says no, then usually follows it with interesting facts about berries, such as that you shouldn't eat red berries unless they're from the rose family. Who knows that kind of stuff?!?!

But I digress. Morels are one of the two mushrooms that I am confident enough to harvest in the forest (the other is the chantrelle). Nothing else really looks like the morel. There is a False Morel, but they look rather a lot like a brain instead of a... well, you know. Even if you do happen to eat a falsey it will most likely only cause diarrhea and vomiting. They have solid, fleshy stems instead of hollow ones and look like this:

We harvested a dozen or so morels on our hike, but saved them to eat at home.... okay, okay, before we got back we were only 90% sure they were morels because we couldn't remember what the false morel looked like. But now I will harvest in complete confidence.

Approaching the last quarter to half mile of our hike, we came across a family with a baby attempting to climb over a tree that was downed across the trail. They commented about how difficult it was to climb over with a baby on your back, so we did a little trail maintenance. Don't I make a great lumberjack?

Have been trying to key out this flower. Think it might be a three-leaved anemone, but I'm not very confident in that ID.


Went for a hike up to Goat Peak on Sunday. Not a terribly long trek, but hooo-ey was it steep. It was very exposed in some parts and still had patches of snow near the top.  Some drifts at the top were up to mid-thigh. Would have been some great views, but it was overcast and mostly just gray, so no good pictures from the top.  

Sunday night we tried something a little different, food-wise. Into the fire went tin foil packages of potato, onion, butter and lemon pepper. Also into the fire went pie irons filled with steak! They turned out tender and delicious. The only thing I would have done differently would be to heat the irons in the fire until they were super hot to sear the outsides. Regardless, they were very tasty and got the best meal of the trip award.

A note on peanut butter bars: apparently they should be kept at room temperature when you're going to eat them. All weekend I wondered why they didn't taste as fantastic as usual, but when we got home and left them on the counter they warmed up and were as delicious as ever!! The amount of peanut butter bars I consumed over the weekend totally made up for the lack of rum cake. As for the red velvet... well, I'll just have to make one for the 4th of July.

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