Yarrow Wild Crafting in Goldendale, WA
It’s become a tradition recently to take a vacation with Pinto to a quiet and remote place away from the fireworks of July 4th. This year I decided to try a location East of the Cascade Mountains within Washington instead of my normal escape route to Canada. Dear friend, Amy Billharz, came along to make it a true Girl’s Trip.
Driving across Snoqualmie Pass I’m always struck by how different the landscape is East of the Mountains. It becomes desert-like, with huge expanses of tree-less hills. Sagebrush grows thickly here and the temperature is closer to that of Dallas, Texas where I grew up. Unlike Texas though, the mountains were our constant companions. Mt Klickitat (also known as Mt. Adams) and Mt Wy'east (also known as Mt. Hood) bordered us on the South and West sides.
Reaching our target of Goldendale, WA, we began to see small forested areas of gnarled Oregon White Oaks and Ponderosa Pines native to this area.
Driving along small dirt roads to our Yurt accommodations, I began noticing many stands of wild yarrow in full bloom. I had come prepared with my gathering bag and clippers for whatever the land held in store for us, so I was glad for the find.
With our host’s enthusiastic permission, we went out the following day to explore their sprawling acreage and gather (Amy gathered video footage while I gathered yarrow.)
As Southerners we were startled to hear Cicadas rasping every now and then as we explored. Nowhere as deafening as the chorus I remember during Texas summers, but we did find a few grounded to look at, identifying them as most likely the Orchard Cicada.
Otherwise it was very quiet and still. We walked a while, crunching through the tall grass, just getting to know the land, feeling its different personality in the dry sunny climate. Once I felt more in tune with its rhythms I asked for permission to gather yarrow along my path, careful only to take a stalk or two from each stand so as not to put too much stress on the plant community. These yarrow were pure white, unlike the pinkish ones I often find along the river at home, and seemed to be home to more bugs. I watched for flower clusters that seemed unoccupied and went for those, still making sure to tap and shake the cuttings to dislodge any stragglers. Also, taking care to cut close to the base of the stalk even though I don’t use the whole stalk. It’s important for the health of the plant left behind not to leave dead headed stalks sticking up that the plant will continue to send much needed nutrients to. It’s also unsightly to leave stems sticking up to wither and die. (I see it happen often this time of year with Lavender and wish I could show everyone how to properly trim!)
The heat finally got the better of us and we made our way back to the yurt for cold showers and naps, but not before I had gathered the yarrow into bundles and hung it upside down to dry for the journey home. You can see how to do this drying technique here.
The next day was fraught with even higher temperatures on our drive home without AC. But, we made it back over the mountains to our beloved Pacific Northwest Coastline and I hung my treasure from Goldendale up in the studio to finish drying.
I’ll use these yarrow blossoms throughout the summer and fall within smudge wands I create using both garden and wild-crafted flowers. Their scent will fill my home with the warmth and bounty of summers spent with friends in beautiful landscapes.
Thanks to Amy Billharz for the majority of the photos in this post! Check out her wonderful natural videos here