A berry fruitful weekend

Aug 14, 2012 | 0 comments

The salmon run might be about over for the summer, but berry picking season is about to come into full swing. 
I had always heard Alaska had a large variety of edible berries, but I never realized how MUCH is out here. On just about any hike in the tundra, you’re guaranteed to come across crowberries, blueberries, low-bush cranberries, and cloudberries. And supposedly it’s only the beginning of the berry season.

It was a little windy in the back of the truck

With the sun out and the temperature finally reaching over 60 degrees, two of my coworkers and I joined an acquaintance from town and drove up into the nearby slope tundra in an old Ford pickup truck. Scanning the landscape, we finally pulled over on the side where we thought we might find some good blueberry patches.



At first I didn’t really know what to look for. I’ve seen blueberry bushes around, but it took a while to start recognizing the shape and color of the bush among all the other low-growing shrubs that cover the tundra. Once I did though, it was very relaxing and almost zen-like to find a bush covered in the little berries and gently pluck them off and toss them in a Tupperware.


Berry picking

The four of us picked berries for about 2 hours, slowly migrating uphill until we started seeing fewer blueberry bushes. It seems there’s only a certain stretch where they grow, under a certain elevation. I was quite happy with my harvest — probably came out with about $30 worth of blueberries if you were to buy that same amount in the grocery store!

Our harvest (mine is on the far right)

The next day one of my coworkers and I decided to bike up a little further than we had been the day before (about 12 miles round trip) to hike the mountain and pick whatever blueberries we found. As it turned out, there were even more blueberries in this area than we had seen the day before!

Second day’s harvest

I had only brought a small container, but managed to fill it up completely to the brim. I never thought I’d be tired of blueberries, but I may be getting close! I now have a huge tub of them in the fridge and need to find some good recipes to use them in. Not that I’m complaining — if anything, I think I like blueberry season even better than salmon season!


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