Mt. Hood looked ghostly on my southbound drive down Highway 35 on Friday morning, with smoke from multiple wildfires still burning. But by the time I reached Trillium Lake near Government Camp, Mt. Hood rose into a perfect blue sky.

Wild foraging author and expert John Kallas took us for a lakeside hike and tutorial on forest foraging. We tried spicy wild ginger, smooth yellow violet, Indian paintbrush, fireweed, and sweet thimbleberries.

We also learned about Lady Ferns, which yield delicate fiddleheads in the spring.

And what not to eat: red baneberry — one of the most poisonous plants in North America. Red means stop!

After the hike we drove to the historic Timberline Lodge, and toured the amazing wine cellar. Jon Tullis, director of public affairs, gave us a history lesson about the 1937 lodge, a National Historic Landmark that was built as part of a WPA project during the Great Depression.

For lunch, Executive Chef Jason Stoller Smith created a five-course feast incorporating many of the wild plants we’d learned about. Wine pairings and commentary were provided by Bob Morus of Hood River-based Phelps Creek Vineyards.

Winding our way back down the mountain, we stopped at McCurdy Farms in Hood River for a chat with Stephen McCarthy from Clear Creek Distillery and a walk through the orchard to look at how they grow the “pear in a bottle” for Clear Creek’s pear brandy.

A first taste of the wild bounty of Oregon left our group hungering for more. We’ll be back.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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