by Brady Raymond
PSMS held it’s second field trip of the year on 5-7-16 in the greater Cle Elum area. It was a well attended affair and there were no complaints in the weather department. We looked around a few miles out from the meet up place and although conditions seemed perfect we found no morels and not much else of the fungal persuasion. Erin and I were out this way a couple weeks earlier and things were for the most part the same, conditions were good but little to no mushrooms. This all took place in the elevation range of 2200-2700ft.
We were happy to be out amongst the trees and we enjoy all that nature has to offer but that nagging feeling that “somewhere out there are morels and damn it, we’re going to find some.” We headed back to PSMS base camp to see if anyone else was having much luck, and they were all still out searching, obviously with more patience than I possess. Doug, the field trip host was tending camp and we conversed with him a bit. He shared with us some ideas of where to look not to far away but at the same elevation we were currently at, and although tempted to try this new spot, we knew what we had to do, get high, in elevation that is.
As we were heading out to one of our most productive morel spots from years past we noticed a couple of newbies wandering aimlessly around camp. That jealousy that seems to only rear its head when looking for morels was at peak level in my psyche but a certain duty to help the uninitiated suppressed my better judgement.
“You guys wanna tag along?” I asked.
“Yeah, we’re new at this, I’m Mike, this is Alyssa.”
“Brady, Erin.” I say as handshakes were exchanged.
They were down to follow us, so we loaded up and headed out. It was about a thirty-five minute drive and a gain of around 2000ft. We pulled onto —- Forest Service Rd. and chatted a bit while we suited up for the hunt. Turns out these two and their dog Beans had been out a bit in the fall and found some chanterelles, they were familiar with a number of hiking trails, but they were still new to the morel experience, the inter-dimensional ghosts of the mushroom world.
We made our way down a short but steep slope to the creek bed, I point out some elk scat and told everyone to be on the look out for an elk carcass we’d spotted the year before. I wasn’t sure if we would come across the remains this year as there was large washed out areas around the creek from raging waters earlier this spring. Very likely the bones were washed away or buried, maybe to be found as fossils by some future intelligent being that explores these lands in a time far beyond our own.
Then out of nowhere. Bam! Right in front of me were the first two morels of the day, and they were mine, all mine.
It wasn’t long before Erin found a couple herself, then Alyssa got a few of her own. I was feeling good when I scooped up numbers 3 & 4 for me, all of decent size and in primo condition. We were all ecstatic, except poor old Mike, who had yet to find one. Erin stumbled upon a spot where last year she had found 8 or 9 real nice ones and this year it yielded the same. I was feeling good, we were going to eat good tonight. Alyssa, Erin and I each found a few more smattered here and there amongst the landscape. We were all smiles but Mike was finding only LBMs, trying to stay enthusiastic, happy in knowing he would at least get to share in what Alyssa was finding.
But what would you know, poor old Mike found his first morel and on top of that, probably stumbled upon the most productive spot of the day. Cheers all around for Mike, he was awash in the “Morel Glow.” When all was said and done, we each found a handsome prize and were all excited to see what culinary creations await (more on that later).
It was a great day to be out in the woods. We met some new people, shared some knowledge, found some mushrooms and ultimately ate those mushrooms. PSMS made it possible and thanks to all the folks who volunteer their valuable time to share in this unique passion/obsession.