Tony and I hiked our buts off in the Palomar mountains the other day. We discovered wild cucumbers and are trying to make our own wild luffa.
As a way to celebrate 4 years since I started the PCT in 2009, Tony and I decided to go for a 21-mile hike yesterday in our neighborhood of Palomar Mountain. We chose to do a loop in the Agua Tibia Wilderness and realized how out of hiking shape we are. This winter has been a time of rest from injury, and time for study and research, so our bodies have been neglected. We start our Trail Work season in about a month so we need to get ourselves back into hiking shape. It was a hot day, and we didn’t bring enough water but luckily came upon a spring half-way, although we realized too late that we were surrounded by poison oak leaves so had to smother ourselves and our gear in Tecnu when we came home.
We had some nice veiws, but more than anything there was abundant life amongst the chaparral (even if there wasn’t much drinking water). We ate quite a few manzanita berries, which taste like little tart apples, and Tony found a giant King Bolete mushroom. We weren’t able to keep it since it was too rough of a ride in the backpack for many miles, but it was an exciting find. Tony even found a nice, in-tact kite up on a hill, which he was very excited about. There were quite a few colorful flowers in bloom and some gorgeous yuccas. We also noticed what seemed to be a very prominent invasive vine all along the trail and later discovered their fruit, which is shown below (the green spiny-looking fruits). We had a sneaking suspicion that they could be wild Luffa plants, so we harvested a few and hoped we could figure out how to cure them. We have done a little research and have found that these are indeed a variety of Luffa. It seems like it is possible to pick them while they are ripe (as we have done) and let them dry a while in the sun before boiling off the spines. So we’ll give it a go, and see what happens.
In our quest to become more self-reliant and gain skills to become efficient nomadic homesteaders, it seems we will need to delve more deeply into the foraging/wildcrafting world. We found a great website today that taught us about these luffas and we even discovered that almost all of the Yucca plant can be eaten. Check out his website: http://www.urbanoutdoorskills.com for some great information on foraging. We will update you with any new foraging skills we attain and on the progress of our wild luffa sponges!