‘Tis The Season

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Erin’s first morel of the year.

by Brady Raymond

They’re Here! I’m happy to report, as some of you probably already know the 2016 Morel season is on. The wife and I headed out April 17th on Highway 2 with the hopes of finding morels. We knew we were taking a chance, heading over Stevens Pass and hanging around 2100ft. in elevation. The temperature seemed right, and we had loads of snow this winter, which means moisture levels had to be at least better than last year, our moral for morels was indeed high.

We arrived at our secret, not so secret spot and a dose of reality hit us as we laced up our boots. It is still early and although the creek was raging the soil seemed dry and we were up fairly high. Maybe we should have found a spot on the west side, near some cottonwoods and a stream. The week earlier we were hovering at around 1600ft. and all the signs were there. Trillium was blooming all over, Calypso Orchids scattered in and around the landscape and cottonwoods dropping their sticky pods everywhere. Poking through needles and leaves were a plethora of Gyromitra and the week before that we found a Verpa.

We were at our destination and it would be silly to turn around now, skepticism aside we set out. It was a mile and a half hike in before we could start looking and on the way we even hit a few patches of snow. To add to that we were in a burn from 2014 and surely there is nothing to be found in any quantity. Public land was in sight, and twenty feet before we crossed the threshold of morel collecting bounty Erin spots the first one of the season right on the side of the trail. Should we pick a morel on private property? Where does the public trail end and the private land begin? As we pondered this ethical dilemma to our luck the morel hopped into our paper bag on it’s own. Morels truly are an incredible mushroom. All and all we only found five total on this trip but we had a good time and the prospects seem good for the coming weeks.

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The authors first two morels of the year.

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Trillium is a good sign along with the sticky pods found on the ground from cottonwood trees, and false morels.

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Erin and Piet, at the time of this photo there were a whopping two Morels in the bag.

UPDATE
4-23-16

We headed out I-90 past Cle Elum up to 4100ft. not sure what we’d find. Surprisingly, lots and lots of mushrooms but no morels at least that we could find. We back tracked and tried again around 2700ft. Everything looked great, the signs were all there but again no luck. At our secret, not so secret spot that we were at the week before we got reports of morels, around a pound were found by a mushrooming friend. We messed up. It happens when looking for these things, you have a hunch and sometimes it’s wrong, or in our case a week early. Either way there is no time like the present, and presently there are morels in our forests, good luck, and good hunting.

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Verpa bohemica, one of the “False Morels” you may encounter on your trek in the woods.  The cap pops off like a thimble and the stipe is usually bedded with a cottony pith.

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Gyromitra sp.  another of the so called “False Morels” that grow in our area.  Notice the folds in the cap like the Verpa, where as a Morel is pitted or honey combed in structure.

Stay tuned for more Morels as the season continues.