Late winter/early spring food sources

With some valuable lessons learned, I drove myself to the same spot on the M-M trail as last time. I hiked right back to Stevens Swamp. While scoping the swamp's perimeter and seeking a good shelter location, I found two non-animal food sources.

The first I am always hunting for.

It is is available year-round in large quantities, and is actually quite filling. 

It does not have any poisonous look-alikes. It is a lichen called rock tripe. It grows in big clusters on certain rocks and rock faces.

An entire wall of rock tripe
A typical boulder face covered in rock tripe
I easily gathered a gallon (compressed) of rock tripe without seriously impacting the population on this rock
Rock tripe has a, well, rock dissolving acid in it. 

You must remove it by boiling before you can eat the stuff. Plus, it is hard, rubbery and flaky until boiled. Boiling reduces it to a very chewable texture, one my girlfriend describes as "eating velvet" (not in a good way, apparently).

boiling rock tripe later that night

eat up!

I saved half for breakfast
Though I've eaten plenty of rock tripe in the past, I was a little nervous about eating such a large quantity. I ate about half and saved the rest for morning, partly in case I had any digestive upset and partly because I was tired of eating the stuff!

I was full!

Freshly boiled rock tripe is fairly tasteless, and like I said, about the texture of wet velvet. It goes down without much thought.

Cold rock tripe leftovers are incredibly slimy and take on a powerful flavor somewhere between mushroom and dirt. 

I had a hard time getting the leftovers down the next morning, though I did eat the whole bag.

I wonder how you'd process rock tripe without a pot for boiling. Leave it in the river overnight? Something to experiment with next time.

I almost always find wintergreen and partridge berries in the fall and early winter, but imagine my surprise when I found two substantial patches of frozen, perfectly preserved berries in late March!

As mentioned here, I'd found several handfuls of wintergreen and partridge berries a few days before this trip. During my excursion around the swamp this time, I found another big patch of wintergreen berries on the opposite shore (no partridge berries here though).

The 18 inches of snow and ice were worn away by wind and sun in this spot...
...revealing a substantial quantity of frozen wintergreen berries!
If I was spending a second night out here, I would have gotten fairly desperate for some meat. Maybe a whole day of setting snares and deadfalls would actually get me some. Maybe not.

I think I would have cooked up another pot of rock tripe.

I also would have harvested some white pine or hemlock cambium (inner bark), and tried roasting it on a hot rock. 

I recently read that this way of cooking pine cambium makes it more edible - as in you can actually eat the stuff rather than just chew on small pieces for an hour before spitting them out. But I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Next time...

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