"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, June 23, 2011

South Chilco Peak and Stinging Nettles

Each year, sometime in June, we make our annual pilgrimage to the top of South Chilco Peak. It's always interesting to see how much snow is still up in them thar hills...there was a lot this year. Most of the trail was still under 5-6' of snow which was kind of nice as we were able to make our own route without too much bushwhacking as the dense vegetation and fallen trees were still buried under a dirty white. The little compass in my head was functioning properly so we managed to make it to the top without incident and it was simply a matter of following our own tracks on the way down.

The shaded side of the top was under a good 40' of snow but on the south facing side wildflowers were starting to poke through, some even blooming. The view is spectacular.

At the base of the mountain, off the beaten path, and up a small tributary I found a clearing a few years back that is full of stinging nettles, we returned the next day to fill our bags and the nettles are now drying in the greenhouse. My wife uses them in her tea concoctions. Nettles are a pretty amazing plant.


Buttons said...

Oh I am so jealous I would so have loved to make that trek with you two. It is gorgeous and what a spectacular view. You are so lucky to have a spot like that close to you.
Stinging nettles and I have never really got along. I hear the tea is wonderful and healthy but I could never get past the stinging part. Thanks for the wonderful photos. B

villager said...

I'll bet the views were spectacular! Sounds like the trek was both wonderful and productive.

Annie's Granny said...

What a feat! At my age, about the farthest I ever hike is from the house to the garden and back. In my younger years......that's another story ;-)

LynnS said...

Don't you just LOVE the the vantage point of a mountain top?! That is just beautiful. I do love Idaho and all of those evergreen smells! We need to work up a small trade. Nettles aren't in my woods and I'm looking for a small bit to make tea for some soap-making. Would the M&M search team care to swap some dried leaves for some bars of Nettle soap? Betcha you guys might clean up half-way decent for gardener-foragers!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I don't know if I've ever seen Nettle to know what it was , now I'll be looking for some, maybe in my own backyard wild :o) I'm with Annies granny with the walking..:o(

Mike said...

I like the picture from your backside where you are looking over the valley below. Pretty cool!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

By the way! why would you stand on the edge of that mountain with your arms outstretched! I'd be scared to death a fly might sit on my nose and I'd fall ! tsk tsk :o(

africanaussie said...

wow you can still see snow in the middle of summer? beautiful photos - I also love the one of you surveying the world from your mountaintop.

Faith said...

Mr. H you have us beat! Not a drop of snow to be had here in AK. Nettles sound delicious.

Dani said...

Mr H - you live in an absolutely beautiful place. Completely stunning!!!

The information on Stinging Nettles is brilliant - thank you :-)

Oxray Farm said...

The very first picture that showed up in my dashboard was of all that snow and trees, I thought NO!! they can't have gotten more snow. Then I realized you were hiking. *Phew*

Can nettles be picked when they are older? I found a nettles patch, but they are not the young whippy plants, they are older with thick stalks and some are flowering. Think they would still be good to harvest?

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I think I should not complain how cold winter now in our place seeing that you still have some snow at the peak. Amazing view.

Mieke said...

Do you use the nettles only to make tea? I love to make nettle-soup,here's my recipe

Elizabeth said...

wow, what an adventure--how I'd love to have one like that. I love hiking in the N Carolina mountains but haven't been able to do it much the last 7 years...too busy having the babies!!
Peace and Raw Health,

Mr. H. said...

Buttons - It was a fun hike and surprisingly warm in the mountains that day, usually we are all bundled up by the time we reach the top.

Villager - It was productive in the sense that we were able to gather a years supply of nettles, unfortunately what we had also hoped to find were morel mushrooms but it is not a great year for them in our area and none were to be had.

Annie's Granny - On this hike going up is the easy part getting back down not so much. "Everyone is the age of their heart." - Guatemalan Proverb

Lynn - We have spent so much time on hands and knees the past few weeks that it was nice to take the time to stand up high and take a good look around.:) We will happily share some of our nettles with you.

Ginny - When your on top of the world you have to stand on the edge.:) If you meet a stinging nettle you will know it...they sting quite readily, but once dried like your mullein are harmless and healthful.

Mike - It is indeed a nice view and my favorite part of this particular hike.

Africanaussie - Some of the mountain lakes we hike to have snow all year around. The snow on this particular mountain will probabely be there until early August this year.

Faith - We still have lots of snow higher up but even that will begin to melt soon I suppose, eventually it has to warm up a bit...doesn't it...I hope.

Dani - Nettles are quite an amazing plant. The health and medicinal properties of some of these wild edibles never ceses to surprise me.

Oxray Farm - I have read that only the young leaves, before they have flowered, should be used because older leaves contain crystals of calcium carbonate particles called cystoliths which "supposedly" act as an irritant to the kidneys. That said, we have used the older ones in the past with no issues. Apparently you can cut them back to obtain a second harvest as well.

Also, dried nettles are supposed to be a great way to add a little nutrition to your chickens diet during the winter months. I'm tempted to start a patch in my own back woods just for this purpose...they seem to grow very well in both full sun and in shaded areas under trees.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan Girl - It has been a chilly spring but I still have hopes, although they are starting to fade, that we will have a warm summer.

Meike - Thanks so much for the link to your recipe...I really must try this as it sounds like something we would enjoy making.

Elizabeth - Just think, pretty soon all of the children will be big enough to go hiking with you.:) I can't wait until our grandson reaches that point.

Geno said...

climbing peaks is what sustains me. Unfortunately I only got in one last year. we made an attempt on Trout Mountain last week, but a late start and whinny kids turned us around to soon. It has been a few years since we have harvested nettles, we have to find a good place to do so here. If you ever want to do a hike or climb around up here let me know, I'm game!

Jane said...

The nettle alludes me. I search and search, but still cant not find a patch. I have not given up hope. And that view is amazing, but I can do without the snow for a few more months. Had my fill this winter as I am sure you have too.

Becky Lerner said...

Wow that is a ton of nettles! Lucky. :)

kitsapFG said...

What a great excursion and you lucked out with a great find of those stinging nettles. If I am not mistaken, the artichokes I am growing are a cousin of nettles. Interesting and useful plant!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey! just wanted to let you know that we recovered from our crazy thursday. our neighbor was "helping" us again - it was a hard day for everyone

but today (sat) was PERFECT!


we dont have one darn nettle growing on this whole property! can you believe it?

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Anonymous said...

Wow, lucky you to have such an exhilarating trek and view on your doorstep.

I'm in that rare part of Italy, which doesn't have a mountain nearby. I'll have to console myself with a trip to the beach and climb up a sand dune. :-)

Mr. H. said...

Geno - We will have to do that one of these days, there are some pretty great mountain lake hikes in your area. Hope you are able to find your own little nettle patch, if I ever stumble into any in your area I will let you know.

Jane - I don't mind the snow so much as long as it stays up in the hills but do wish it would warm up around here soon...39°this morning...brr. Hope you find some nettles.

Becky Lerner - Yes it is, we lucked out and stumbled upon this great patch a couple years ago and have been going back ever since.

Laura - I am looking forward to seeing how your artichokes turn out, my wife and I love artichoke hearts and are tempted to try growing them again...depending upon how successful you are with yours of course.:)

Ohio - Its them darn pigs of yours, they must have ate up all the nettles.:)

"Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is...he's hard to stop." - Gus McCrae

Contadina - The beach sounds nice to me...and warm too.:)

Heiko said...

Snow in late June! That seems in the dim and distant past... Great view from the top though! Susan is also getting heavily into herbal teas after her herbalist recommended she have a couple of cups a day of a mixture of plantain, dandelion and nettles. She is quite addicted to it unlike me still carrying my childhood trauma with me on herbal teas... :)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

ha! that proves we are related! my favorite cousin just said the EXACT same thing to me! (about renting pigz that is)

thanks for the smiles! and i love the header pix of all those clover (??) buds.

foodgardenkitchen said...

That was so unusual to see snow in the opening pic in June. Fortunately, it wasn't on your garden!

Mr. H. said...

Heiko - Mrs. H pushes her herbal teas on me too, some of them are not too bad. We have been keeping an eye out for elderberry flowers to add to some of her winter tea concoctions. Don't worry, you'll come around to drinking them to.:)

Ohio - Being the dunderhead that I am I accidentally erased my original header picture...doh!

Foodgardenkitchen - Yes, I am very grateful that that snow is not in our yard...I would have to move farther south.:)

WeekendFarmer said...

Snow in June...Are you serious : ) ? That is amazing! Nice job with the Nettles. I am still not sure which ones they are. There are some in the yard that looks like it...but I am scared to try incase its not what I think it is. We should have better identification/education around wild food.

Mr. H. said...

WeekendFarmer - If you ever get really curious about whether or not they are nettles just email me a couple pictures of them and I will help you to identify them.

Leigh said...

I have read so many good things about stinging nettles. It's so cool that you all have a good source for wildcrafting. I will end up having to grow my own, just gotta figure out where! Amazing how much the leaves look like catnip. Amazing how much snow is still on that mountain! I reckon the peak is above the snow line(?)

Anonymous said...

Just some advice you seem to be having the summer that we had (SH) and when it warmed (barely) up we had a lot of fungal problems folige spraying of seaweed and seaweed mulch helps the plants and pull out plants that are to susceptable eg cucumbers I hope you get a better summer then we had its still raining alot here (winter now) happy gardening

Mr. H. said...

From a distance the leaves do indeed resemble catnip, but once you pick the prickly little plants the difference becomes quite clear.:) The very peak is a large rock outcropping that is above the snow line...there use to be a fire lookout building up there.

Anonymous - Thanks for the advice, luckily fungal problems have been minimal but I will keep the seaweed spray in mind. We have had a difficult time getting our cucumbers to grow in the cold but after much replanting I think we finally have a handle on the situation...fingers crossed.

Ms. Adventuress said...

Everything looks amazing. STUNNING garden and nettle drying. Your wife is brave...I swelled up ten too many times while growing up (exploring the woods) to ever attempt to safely seek nettles as an adult. I know. A little PTSD goes a long way. :o)

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - They are prickly little buggers.:)

Jo said...

Drying nettles -- what a fabulous idea. Is the stinginess still there after they dry out?

Mr. H. said...

Jo - Once the nettles are dried the little hairs that sting you are no longer an issue at all.:)

6512 and growing said...

We are big fans of nettles around here: tea, omelets, smoothies...yum!
Also, your garden (from previous post) is GORGEOUS!

Mr. H. said...

6512 and growing - Mmm, a nettle omelet does sound pretty good....we will have to try that.:)

Janeen said...

Just found your wonderful blog while searching for ideas on row covers.

I've been picking and drying nettles as winter feed for our hens this week. Both wood nettle and stinging nettle work and I've found huge fields of both.

Mr. H. said...

Janeen - We hope to establish a nice patch of nettles on our property over the next few years, it is good to know that the chickens will enjoy them too.:)

Silke said...

I cannot believe there is snow anywhere in June!! Such an amazing place!! So beautiful! And I remember stinging nettles well from when I was a kid - they were everywhere we played and I came into contact with them regularly... We also did drink it in teas. If Mrs. H. ever decides to sell her tea concoctions, let me know... :) Silke

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