Over the years that I've been foraging, I've stumbled upon very few Gooseberries or Currants (genus Ribes). That's why I was particularly excited when I discovered dozens of clumps of flowering Hairy-stemmed Gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum) earlier this year. Since then, I've made several follow-up trips to check on the ripening fruit. By mid-July, the round fruits had taken on a purple hue and were ready for tasting.
The stems of Hairy-stemmed Gooseberry are variably armed with short spines and bristles, and older stems have peeling bark. With a hand lens (or binoculars used in reverse), hairs are noticeable, especially on the younger stems; without magnification, stems appear hairless.
Like with so many fruits, color is a strong indicator of the stage of ripeness. In this case, the darker purple Gooseberries were less tart and slightly sweeter. At one point, a friend noticed a small mammal gathering some of the ripe fruit from a particular clump. Following the partially obscured creature led us to a rock pile within which we noticed a small cache of fruit. My friend and I weren't the only ones out gathering Gooseberries that day.