“The cards have lined up for an excellent huckleberry season” on Mt. Spokane
MEAD, Wash. — Those oh so very PNW red and purple berries are back on Mount Spokane, coming in bountifully for both pickers and the wildlife that rely on them.
“All the cards have lined up for an excellent huckleberry season,” said Park Ranger Jerry Johnson. “It has to do with the weather, the moisture- too much and they won’t produce. Same if it’s too hot.”
He says it may come back to the good snowpack the park experienced last winter.
“The darker purple the more sugar it has,” he said. “You can’t beat the flavor.”
To keep the huckleberry patches healthy and happy, he says mind your step.
“You can break bushes, which will kill them and delete the berries for everyone else,” he said.
He also recommends picking them by hand; the rakes that are sold have a tendency to break branches and rip leaves off.
Don’t try and dig a plant up to take home, either. They won’t do well in any other environment.
“They are specific to certain elevations and certain soils,” Johnson said.
Mount Spokane has plentiful patches, but it’s between 5,000-5,200 feet where you will have the most luck. The berries ripen at higher elevations as the 3-4 week season progresses.
Upper Kit Carson trail is a spot he says folks have a lot of luck.
And when you are done with containers full, he says remember how to drive.
“As you leave the mountain, be concerned about your speed, it is 20 mph in the parks,” he said, “as people leave they will often ride their brakes the whole way down and will need brand new ones after.”
He says best to shift into lower gear.
Other tips: Bring lots of water and wear hiking boots or other protective shoes. Don’t forget your Discovery Pass and be mindful of others already out picking in patches!
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