Last night at dinner my grandmother said, “If I were asked what the best things are about living in the state of Washington, I’d say two things: Mount Rainier, and wild blackberries.” Yesterday I got to experience both. On my first full day of vacation back home in Olympia, I went blackberry picking with my mother and a very energetic nine-month-old chocolate lab.
Wild blackberries, also known as Cascade blackberries or Pacific blackberries, are a highly coveted (and impossible to domesticate) special type of blackberry native to the Pacific Northwest. They are not the big squishy things you find on the side of the road, which are Himalayans. Cascades have much smaller berries, and thrive in semi-forested brushland – particularly in tracts that were clearcut long ago and have since grown over.
Fortunately, our family friend owns many acres of land meeting that description about half an hour from Olympia. We traipsed and clambered through the brush, discovering gleaming displays of the prized berries. We both filled our pitchers and then some:
Our hike had the added bonus of bringing us to a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier:
All in all, we brought home twenty cups of blackberries on Sunday, enough for five pies. We’ll go picking again later in the week to stockpile even more pies worth of berries, and also to have plenty for making jam. Details on pies and jam will come in Part 2 later this week.