We arrive on a fine summer day, one where morning clouds were burning off and a nice breeze kept the air moving as the temperature climbed to meet the arriving sun. My hiking partner for the day was my mother-in-law, S. She is always interested in what I am doing and wanted to see this place where I have been spending so much time. When we arrive there are many volunteers cleaning up after yesterday's Burning Beast BBQ festival. It is a major fund raiser for Smoke Farm, a barbeque cook-off with 15 different types of meet for the guests to sample. The tickets for the event sell out very very quickly every year.
We walk up river on the rough grassy road that passes through the new cottonwood forest. The new deck on the double log bridge makes the route passable for S and we spot tiny salmon swimming in the creek below. We stop at the Grave of Vitus Bering, which also gives S a good feel for a cedar forest. I talk about nurse stumps. I point out all of the different plants growing from the tops - that cedar tree, that evergreen huckleberry, those ferns. Then we continue upriver.
There are more thimbleberries than on my last visit and they are right at their peak of flavor. S eats as many as I can pick and they are her first thimbleberries. It is a good place to have your first thimbleberry and I tell her where I ate my first one - on a mountain road in the Bugaboos of Canada. I imagine that a lot of people can remember where they had their first thimbleberry.