Hiking in the backcountry is an extremely aesthetically pleasing activity. It stimulates your eyes first and foremost thru the amazing scenery, landscapes, and wildlife you may see. It stimulates your ears thru the multitude of bird calls, animal noises, and the wind blowing thru the trees. It teases your nose with fresh smelling wildflowers. The one sense that is left out is your taste.
However, recently, on one of my outings near Yellowstone Park I realized that your appetite can definitely get down on the action. In August, we are rapidly approaching berry season up here in Jackson, where wild berries like Huckleberries grow large and ripe ready to be picked and enjoyed...especially while hiking. Huckleberries, which are about the size of a blueberry and can be similar in color, grow all over Yellowstone and can be found very close to many backcountry hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled and make sure you know what you are picking before you eat it!!
Another amazing backcountry treat are mushrooms. There are a ton of wild, edible mushrooms in and around Yellowstone, but again make sure you know what you are picking. Most of these have to be cooked as well to make them edible. With the wet winter and spring we had up here wild mushrooms are growing up like weeds...well into the summer.
I was recently out hiking in Grand Teton National Park. As I made my way up to an open field, which also happened to be a burn area (wild fire a few years back) I saw some fellow hikers. However, these hikers were actively looking for something. I thought at first that maybe somebody had dropped a phone, or some keys, or a contact fell out.
Then I saw each one of them was specially equipped with a mesh bag. My curiosity took a hold and I casually walked over to see what they were looking for. "Petrified wood?" I asked. "Nope, we are looking for the motherload" they responded. Hmm, motherload huh??!! Sounds like they are looking for gold or buried treasure.
Little did I know they were searching for delicious Morel Mushrooms, a different kind of treasure. Upon further investigation I realized that Morel Mushrooms are EVERYWHERE up here in Yellowstone Country. On my next hiking outing I made sure to bring a bag for anything that I may or may not stumble upon.
Sure enough I found my own little motherload of Morels. They were right off the trail and ready for picking. I took them home and immediately fried them up in some butter. They were incredible!! Now that I know these delicious treats that are out there, taste is the first sense I think about when heading out into the field. There is just something about finding these tasty morsels, like the kid that finds the golden egg in a scavenger hunt. It is very exciting!
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled when hiking in Yellowstone Country. You truly never know what you are going to find. Also make sure to familiarize yourself with wild edibles before sending something down the hatch. If you do it right, you, your belly, and all the rest of your senses will come away satisfied!!