Forest foraging today provided spicy watercress (Nasturtium officianale) and sweet yellow avalanche lily (Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh) to lively up my salad. Though I was seeking illusive morel mushrooms, I found other delicious and nutritious plants to harvest on my spring trek. I grazed as I hiked and brought home a small harvest to embellish tonight’s salad.
5 things to know about Nasturtium officianale
It’s related to mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula and tastes spicy like them.
It keeps well a few days submerged in water and stored in the fridge.
Modern science has identified more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals contained in this one herb – more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.
It is known for preventing or treating cancer.
Vitamin K is by far the most prominent nutrient in watercress, with 312% of the daily recommended value. It forms and strengthens the bones and limits neuronal damage in the brain, which is helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
5 things to know about Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh
Since it often appears at the edge of receding snow banks it is often called snow lily, glacier lily, yellow avalanche-lily, and it’s known as dogtooth violet, trout lily, and fawn lily. People who live in my community call it deer tongue but that is more often used for a different wild flower.
It’s related to the Lily family and it’s stamens can be white, yellow, or red. Usually all the flowers in a patch have the same color stamens.
You can eat the flower, seeds, and bulbs. Leaves are edible, too, but only eaten in emergencies as bulbs need the leaves to provide nutrients to sustain the plant.
This edible wildflower grows in western Canada and U. S., especially in the Rocky Mountains.
Elk and deer relish the foliage. Grizzly bears and black bears use their claws to comb through the soil unearthing the nutritious bulbs.
More posts about edible wild foods are here and here.
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
Barred Owl feldgling, first day out of its nest. It was still there 2 hours later. Barred owls are often out in day time. I was hunting morel mushrooms, walking along with my head down, looking at the ground. I smelled a cougar and got the clue I should look up once in a while. Directly in front of me at a distance this fledgling had been watching me. I never saw the cougar, or the parent owls or the nest. Only 1 morel in the bag and that’s OK, for this day.
With great respect for baby wildlife I put my 2 German Shepherds in the van, made my photos in a little time, and left. I got pretty close but I didn’t want to scare the fledgling. Never take one home. They don’t need rescue and they are not intended to be pets. Fledglings seem pretty stupid, or extremely inexperienced. I hope it lived through the night. Great Horned Owls at my home spend months feeding and training their young in the art of hunting so I hope this one has a parent looking after it, too.
I can’t think of a more fun wild food to harvest than morel mushrooms. The spring hunt gets me into forests early and, though unproductive until the right sustained temperatures range between 40 and 65 degrees, searching for the elusive fungus is a great way to break in new hiking boots and strengthen muscles for more vigorous summer trekking. In the Payette National Forest the morels are ON now.
No doubt I walk past more than I find, like this one I spied playing peek-a-boo with me. Look again at the first photo and you’ll see that its companion was hiding next to it, just out of sight. These two photos are of the same finding, different perspectives. It’s all how you look at it. No, really. Sometimes turn around and look where you just came from. Just by looking back I’ve found deer and whales following me. (Whales follow my boat, of course; they don’t visit the forest.)
I discovered some just pushing forth through the forest floor, showing that they can grow to full size below warming moist duff as they emerge. This one was larger than a golf ball.
Another much larger one was trying its darndest to force its way through the floor on its side. I helped it, of course. You can see only about a third of it in this photo.
According to Mother Earth News it’s not necessary to cut mushrooms off at their ground level. Pulling up the whole thing has no effect on it growing back next year because mushrooms grow by spore dispersion. I cut them off in the field so they are easier to clean when I get home and to leave a little more nourishment in nature. I carry a soft mesh shopping bag to transport my fine little friends so their spores can fall out to reproduce, assuring more gathering opportunities in the future.
My family taught me to be wary of bears any time I’m in their habitats, especially when gathering mushrooms and huckleberries. This is one of two bears that crossed my acres at dusk several days ago. Neighbors found 2 more, so we had four that we know of in our little area that evening.
That same day a rancher drove cattle across our pasture and up our creek to the range land above us.
This is probably why so many bears came down at once. Even they don’t want to camp with bovine.
I take one or two German Shepherds with me when I hunt mushrooms but that doesn’t assure protection. A bear might chase your dog who will run right to you, or run away and leave you with the beast. Mom’s German Shepherd was so brave and persistent getting after a bear in her brush near her pond that it got its tail bitten off. We called her Bob after that. I wear a whistle around my neck but I’ve never had to use it in a bear encounter. If I remember, I sing or hum a little song, or recite poems so the bears hear me and they stay clear before I ever see them. Sea chanties work nicely. My friend, Nancy, bells her dog and it makes enough noise running around to let bears know they’re not alone. My girls are worn out after leaping every fallen tree they could find.
With little training I recognize a bear wallow, though an elk had marked it overnight with scat so maybe it was an elk wallow. Uh . . . but it was awfully close to this tree where a bear had dug after insects.
Another clue is fresh scat. VERY fresh! See how wet it is?
And some more scat nearby, a little older.
At home, I carefully rinse the catch and then give them a 30 minute soak in heavily salted cool water to dislodge tiny critters that inhabit the fungus. Then I rinse them again, gently squeeze out the water and lay them on towels to dry a little. Mother Earth News says not to clean them and I agree they would feel firmer that way. But I disagree about their bugs and worms leaving with less encouragement.
Meantime, I tend to the sourdough sponge so I’ll have fresh bread to dip in the morel drippings later. If I’m going to eat them soon I store them in a paper bag or wrapped in paper towls in a bowl in my fridge. To preserve them for later, I dry the mushrooms by running a long thread through them with a small needle and then hanging them in a sunny window if it’s a sunny day. But it’s raining here a lot now so I filled 2 dehydraters with them and dried them in the kitchen. Fillet large morels lengthwise so they dry quicker. Mother Earth News has a different method, still without cleaning them first. After drying them I package them in freezer bags or glass jars and put them in the freezer for a couple of weeks to kill any more enzymes that could cause trouble in storage. Then I store them in glass jars or crocks with lids. To rehydrate for use, I put them in a cereal bowl with just enough water to cover them for about 20 minutes. Mother Earth News wants to soak them for 2 hours but that seems way too long. Either way, save the liquid to use in morel sauce and gravy.
Skip the onions and garlic. Morels are so flavorful why distract the taste with anything added? I put just enough olive oil in the bottom of a frying pan to coat it, and add a small slice of butter for flavor. No salt or pepper even. Saute on medium heat gently for only about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook or they get tough. The best of the best recipes is to fry a steak in a cast iron skillet first, then remove it and stir up the brownings. Add olive oil if needed, butter if you like. Saute the morels and then remove them from the pan. Stir up the drippings again, and then stir in flour before adding the reserved liquid (above) or some water a little at a time. Keep stirring gently to prevent lumps until you get the thickness you want. Adjust the amount of liquid as you like. Another way is to skip the flour and instead shake a small jar that has a little corn starch and liquid in it, then add it all at once to the pan and stir, stir, stir.
I’ve spent valuable hunting and gathering time creating this post so it’s back to the forest I go now. Mother Earth News has more information about morels, though I disagree with some of it. And at the end of their discussion they post more sites about the fungus.
To celebrate May Day I searched for early Morel mushrooms. Finding none, I pulled out my little digital point and shoot camera and photographed wild flowers. People still remember the fun of making a paper basket, filling it with flowers and hanging it on someone’s door, then run like the dickens and hope they don’t find you. If found, you owe them a kiss. It’s a fun way to welcome spring.
From Alcott’s story: “Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another’s arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener.”
My step dad, Filbur (Phil) Lakey, composed this photo in about 1949, probably with a Brownie camera while on horseback. This is his step dad, Ken Thomas. Ken was the Ranger at Krassel Guard Station near Yellow Pine, Idaho, for about 30 years and Phil often worked trail crew with him, packing into the back country with a string of mules. Common cameras in those days had a view finder on top; the photographer aimed the lens at the subject and looked down on a big square glass to frame the picture. The subject was upside down in the viewfinder. Imagine doing that on a horse on a rugged mountain trail. In those days the film was black and white so I might have the year wrong or this photo might have been retouched to color it. Look at the lower right corner where age is changing the hue and let’s believe this image was made with color film.
Today’s photo assignment for https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/ is Landscape. Instead of shooting a new scene, I came back to this old image to see yet again what I can make of it with tools in Adobe Photoshop CS4. You can see the changes from the first adjustment below, to the one above, and finally adding a watercolor filter to get the effect in the image at top. I scanned the image from the original enlargement which had aged over the years since it was first printed from the negative. Below you see how it looked after adjusting just tone, contrast, and color in CS4. In the image above I adjusted again, this time for shadows and highlights. The most noticeable change is the sky. Clouds now appear and the sky is more interesting.
The foreground is colored but the mountains in the background look like they have been made (or left) black and white. It could be snow because you can see fall hues in the foreground. Snow falls early in the high elevations. Look more closely. An enormous wildfire has swept through the wilderness and left the burned landscape colorless. With a little research I can uncover the date this photo was made.
I aspire to reproduce this image with Prisma colored pencils or acrylic paint. I know I can do more adjustments in CS4 to bring out details in the white horses and correct the hue in the lower right corner. The left side background is darkened by a cloud masking the sun. I think Phil made a pretty good photograph with the equipment he had and being on a horse. He would have been up the trail and no doubt he was also leading a string of mules or horses. I can’t make out the structure behind the last white horse but I believe it’s another horse, a dark one, with a big pack stacked on it. Mule strings could be long and often a mix of mules and horses among the pack animals.
I have a few photo albums of my family’s life at the ranger station over 30 years and those images are in black and white. Today’s post is about photography and adjusting old images but in a future post I will feature the history of the family that lived at the station and the ranger’s job, with vintage photos.
Hugh Addington, born November 24, 1894, was the mine mechanic at the Red Ledge mine on the Eagle Bar in Hell’s Canyon, Idaho. The Red Ledge and associated mines, Landore, Peacock, South Peacock, and the Blue Jacket, operated for about two years in 1926 and 1927. Hugh was one of the first men into the mining area, setting up camp and the machinery. He was one of the last to leave, closing up the operation. A map is at the end of this post.
He was married to Mary Olive Emery Addington for more than sixty-five years. Olive coordinated education and taught at the only school the Hell’s Canyon had then. The one-room-school house, along with the mining camp and other buildings, are now under water backed up by the Hell’s Canyon Dam.
Here is Hugh’s account of the mining operation as told to me, his granddaughter, in November, 1978. Tape recordings of this and other accounts of the mine and early life in Idaho are archived at the Adams County Library in Council, Idaho.
SEPTEMBER, 1926. HORNET CREEK ON THE EAST SIDE OF PECK MOUNTAIN:
Hugh: “They sent me up on Hornet Creek on the East side of Peck Mountain to set up an engine and compressor up there. I was supposed to be workin’ for the Red Ledge and my checks was comin’ from the Red ledge. I thought there was something spooky in it but I stayed there and worked and then they sent me up to the Peacock to go to work.”
They skidded all their groceries and supplies to Snowline, a dry camp, by way of six horses pulling wagons on skids.
“See, there was no road in there at all. Morrison Knudson was buildin’ a road along the edge of the river. It was a regular Klondike deal. We lived in tents for dog-goned near a year before we got any building set up and…heh…fifty men…and I’ll tell you, when you house up fifty men, and they can’t get away from each other, you better be careful, you could get a fight any time you wanted one. Oh! They get cranky! Holy Jesus, they get cranky and ornery.
They was fifty of us there. Heh, heh…something funny happened. The man that was buildin’ the trail down there, Jess Ward, sent up to the Peacock for a gallon of oil. Frank Louzon, the superintendent at the Peacock, went up to the cook shack and went out behind there and found a Rosebud Syrup can and he took it down to the compressor house and he filled it up with Mobile A oil and sent it down there. Well, the darn thing got tangled up in the groceries somehow. So along in the winter…heh, heh…the boy that was waitin’ the tables and takin’ care of things there ran out of syrup, oil, and he didn’t know; it looked like syrup. He filled up every dog-goned pitcher with that oil. Well then, it was pretty dog-goned touchy, I’ll tell you.”
Olive: “They didn’t take it as a joke, did they?”
Hugh: “They didn’t take it as a joke! I’ll tell you they didn’t! I was sittin’ right by the superintendent eatin’ breakfast. We always had hot cakes for breakfast and, of course, I poured a whole lot of it on my plate. I heard somebody down at the other end of the table…they was three tables, long tables…say, ‘It’s oil!’. Well, I took a bite and the minute I took it I knew it was oil and I spit it out! I was sittin’ there with the MP and he took a mouthful of it and he swallowed his! And then he threw down his knife and fork and out of the tent he went. I thought, ‘Damn you. If you can eat that, I can too!’ and I tried another mouthful but I couldn’t go it. I spit her out. Finally they was just about to hang the superintendent. [ Hugh broke up laughing here.] There was an awful rumpus. Jess Ward, the mine foreman, he come to his senses and he said, ‘I made that mistake. It was a can of oil that I was supposed to have got and it got in, tangled up, in the groceries.’ Jess got the men settled down. I’ll tell you, they was about to hang the superintendent! Heh…heh…heh.
RED LEDGE MINE ON THE EAGLE BAR
“We started to tunnel into that tunnel there. Instead of startin’ that tunnel in the rock they started it into the dirt and we went a hundred and seventy-five feet into that hill. It was an eight-foot square tunnel and I’ll tell you, that dirt was heavy, before they hit solid rock. But when they hit solid rock, it was just a wall, just like a cliff. They came down in the night and got me out of bed to start the compressor and they started drillin’.
Well, we had good machinery, good drills. We had English Sawl Rand water liners for drills and they was some good hard rock miners. They set those up and put up three drills on a bar. Now, a bar is a thing that reaches across a tunnel and it’s kinda like a screw jack and you screw it into the wall good and tight and hold it. Then you set your drill on top of that. Then they run air and there’s water that goes right down through the center of ’em and down through the drill. The drill is hollow, right down to where the bit is because you’re not allowed to run a dry drill through a tunnel because you get that rock dust in your lungs. It doesn’t make any dust. It comes out and it’s all kind of a mud. They set three of those on a bar and started drillin’. That rock was hard. I tell you, that rock was hard, that old diorite. The fire would just fly when they started drillin’.
They was drillin’ twenty-four holes in the face of that thing, in that tunnel. They couldn’t pull it at first. They was pullin’ around. Now, pullin’ around is blastin’ it out. They was drillin’ five feet holes, five and six feet deep. You know, them electric caps are in what they call ‘lays’. One bunch’ll shoot. Then another bunch’ll shoot. Then another bunch’ll shoot. They was a shootin’ it with electric caps. So they drove, drilled, this wedge in there like this, in a ‘V’. Now, those are ‘best holes’; the first or the middle holes are ‘best holes’. And, then, they drilled their uppers and then they drilled their lifters. They’d shoot the best holes out first. They’d shoot that ‘V’ out and then down would come the uppers, would blast, and then the lower ones would blast. There’d be a big pile of muck there then, and they’d shovel it out. That was the only way they could pull that ground, it was so hard to pull.
It was an eight-foot-square tunnel. We were really goin’ into that mountain. We got in there seven hundred feet when she shut down. They bought a lot of street car rail in Boise and hauled it down there for rail. We had forty-pound steel and six by sixes for ties. They had an electric locomotive and eight three-ton ore cars that were on Tempton bearings and everything was a workin’ just wonderful.
They had two Butler muckin’ machines. Now, these muckin’ machines, they’d run one in, in front of the train, and then they would wedge it to the track so as to hold it. That muckin’ machine would reach out nine feet and then it would double right up and it would spin right around, it run by air, and dumped it into the car behind it. It was awful fast. The man that run it, he strapped himself to it to keep from getting thrown off.
We had two of those and two machines on a bar and two jack-hammers runnin’ outside and I could hold a hundred pounds of air with that compressor. We had a wonderful compressor. We had a two stage compressor that had high and low cylinders, low compression on one side and high on the other. A big flywheel was in between. It weighed seven tons, that compressor, and the engine weighed nine tons that run it, a diesel engine. The fly-wheel that run it weighed a ton. The belt pulley on the engine was four feet in diameter and the one on the compressor I think was seven and it was an eighteen-inch leather belt. Boy, I’ll tell you, they had a fine bunch of machinery.
They brought it there on a loggin’ truck with six horses. When they took it up the mountain they had six horses in front [pulling] and four horses behind pushin’. They had them hooked up to a pole pushin’ on the back. They were pullin’ but we called it pushin’ because they were behind, shovin’.
[Photos illustrate two pairs of horses behind the truck harnessed to a pole that ran between them. The horses pulling on their harnesses forced the pole to push the truck. To turn the sharp switch backs on the steep grade the crude road had a flat stretch at each corner where the truck would stop. The horses were unhitched and turned around. The harnesses and the pole were reversed so that the rear of the truck now became the leading wheels and the teams started up the grade again.]
That country is a pocketty deal. There’s no ledge. Those mines all through the Seven Devils and up there were in what we call kidneys. They’d find a body of ore and dig it out and they’d have to hunt for another one. There was no continuation of a ledge. That’s all that Red Ledge is, is a great body of ore sittin’ there. It’s been spewed up from down underneath in the makin’ of the world. All that whole country, Landore, Peacock, Blue Jacket mines and around there, they was all in pockets. [He explained that the Red Ledge is like a layer cake, layered with rich ore, then none, then ore, and so on.]
The man that was runnin’ the diamond drill there, Lindsey, he was paid five thousand dollars a month to diamond drill. He was down about four hundred feet and the diamond came off the end of his bit. He couldn’t drill anymore. He had to get that diamond out of there or drill another hole. He tried and tried to get that diamond out of that hole. He finally went down to the cook shack and mixed up a batch of dough, a heavy, thick chunk of dough. Then he put that on the stem to the drill and he shoved it down that hole and brought ‘er up. There stuck that little ol’ diamond right on the end. (sourdough starter) and (sourdough whole wheat bread recipe)
BLUEPRINTS FOR THE TUNNEL
That tunnel was to be nine thousand feet long when it got under Deep Creek and Deep Creek was to be nine thousand feet above it. They were goin’ to bring that water down through a shaft, bring it out and make their own electricity. Kennedy, the engineer, told me, ‘We’ll never get back under Deep Creek. That ledge is on a dip. We’ll get ore in about four thousand feet and we’ll have all the ore to run for years and years’. They had surveyed out where the mill was gonna be just about a week before they shut down.
SHUTTING DOWN THE MINES
The mines shut down because of a lawsuit. The Peacock, the South Peacock, which was never any good… We shipped only two carloads out of there in the two years that we run it. They were sellin’ stock in New York on the Peacock to develop the Red Ledge. Butler was a smart old cuss. Everybody lost their money. I never bought any stock in it at all. I was afraid of it. They got into a lawsuit and he beat everybody out of it and got away with the money. They didn’t sell stock on the Red Ledge because they didn’t want it to get tangled up. There was too much money in it.”
[According to Hugh, when the lawsuit came about, mostly mail and stock fraud, the Red Ledge was hardly involved. The mines were only open about two years. The Red Ledge is supposed to be rich in copper ore still but Butler (who may be dead now) is supposed to be so rich that he doesn’t want to waste his time with it.]
BLASTING FOR STURGEON
[The night crew threw 40 sticks of dynamite into the Snake River at Eagle Bar and captured 19 sturgeon as a result. They ate what they could and took the rest up and down the river to share with other mining camps. Hugh did not eat sturgeon because they are scavengers, “hanging around the bottom of the cliffs where we threw our garbage”.]
Red Ledge and South Peacock mines are west of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (dark green) and east of the Snake River. Eagle Bar and the Red Ledge (horizontal marker, the triangle) are closer to the Snake River. Blue Jacket mine is southwest of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The 1978 photos were taken when I hiked down Deep Creek with my dad, Bruce Addington, to visit the Red Ledge mine. We actually started our Deep Creek hike from the Peacock mine. Deep Creek runs from Smith Mt. to the west.