Are you looking for something to do in the outdoors during the dog days of summer? By the first of August, wild blackberries are starting to ripen in most of the canyons beneath the Rim where live water flows. Berry picking season will start about now and will last for about six weeks depending on the elevation and the amount of sunshine available to the plants.
This is an excursion that everyone in the family can enjoy finding most of the berry spots within an hour’s drive of Payson. It does take a certain amount of scouting in the watershed canyons to see if the bushes are producing and the berries are ripe. Kathy and I took our reconnaissance trip last weekend accompanied by two of our granddaughters, and stop number three really paid off.
Trying to fill a makeshift bucket constructed out of an old coffee can with a handle can be a real challenge for youngsters as well as adults. A ripe berry is certainly pleasing to the taste buds and one thing will soon lead to another. Everyone needs to remember the goal is that fresh blackberry pie and that requires fruit in the bucket.
If you go, don’t forget to dress accordingly! A long-sleeve, light shirt with long pants are a must because of the thorns that are everywhere on those lengthy vines along the ground. Wearing one glove on the hand, which moves the bushes will keep the scratches to a minimum while the free hand picks that delicious little fruit.
Remember, it is summer time and these areas which have berries will also be cooler spots because of water nearby and that can attract critters. A rattlesnake is always a possibility, so it is important to pay attention before placing your next step. A light, hiking boot will add extra protection as well as better traction in some of the steeper terrain.
The extra covering also minimizes the chance of your skin coming into contact with poison ivy or oak, which could be near some of these berry patches.
There are some precautions to take and a bit of preparation is necessary to make that berry picking experience enjoyable for everyone in the family.
Another tip is to pay attention to the weather as monsoon thunderstorms can quickly develop with the geography of the Mogollon Rim as a catalyst. If those clouds begin to darken, head for the car, lightning and rain usually follow. Flash flooding is a possibility in some of these small narrow canyons where heavy rains can occur suddenly upstream.
If you have a couple of hours and are willing to do a little exploring, blackberry picking is a great way to enjoy the Rim Country.
Expenses are minimal for a family outing and the children can have a unique learning experience in the Arizona outdoors. It is hard to beat homemade blackberry jam, pies or cobbler!
This weekend take a friend berry picking in the Rim Country, God’s creation.