It’s Happening

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Erin took this picture with her phone.  It’s incredible what phones can do these days, maybe some day genetic testing in the field will be possible.

by Brady Raymond

  • 5-19-17 – 5-20-17
  • 70 degrees, sunny
  • 1800-4200ft.

Things are heating up and Morels are popping.  Erin, our daughter, the dog and I headed out for an overnight mushrooming mini adventure and we were not disappointed.  Over the two days we spent looking, we gathered around 120 Morels totaling 2lbs almost exactly, not bad for naturals considering we had a small child and a dog who is more of a trail dog than a hunting companion.

On Friday we hit up a trail in one of our spots and within a minute or two I had already picked my first Morel.  It didn’t take long to find the next few either.  I hopped off the trail expecting to find Morels everywhere but to my surprise, I found zilch.  There were a few spots of snow in the shade but for the most part, it was gone.  I’m assuming the trail itself received more sunlight thus was a bit warmer than the surrounding woods.  We were at 4000ft. and up here it was still getting quite cold at night.

We continued down the trail happily picking Morels along its edges for a quarter mile or so.  As the trail gained in elevation the mushrooms were fewer and further apart.  After a hundred yards of finding nothing, we turned around.  We wondered how many we would spot on the way back and were greeted by a number of these shifty fungi we had somehow missed.  It doesn’t take much for a Morel to be obscured from sight, it only takes a leaf or branch to hide it from you.  Erin spotted a number of them that I had walked right by as she walked behind me, no doubt due in part to the discrepancy of height between the two of us.

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Spring fungal diversity seems high this year.  I’ve seen lots of interesting mushrooms so far.  No Ramaria yet though, which Erin dyes yarn with to get shades of purple.

We got a motel in Cle Elum, the Aster Inn, a nice place in my opinion.  It was clean and the folks were friendly, what more could you ask for.  I would definitely stay there again.  Saturday morning upon setting out for the day I talked to a fella named Ben staying at the motel too.  With his basket in hand and a wide brimmed hat, I knew immediately what Ben was up to.  It turned out he was with the South Sound Mycological Club and they were having a foray in the area.  After a bit of posturing and warning each other to stay out of our respective territories we shook hands and made good.  We exchanged some elevation info and chatted a bit about what we had found so far this season, then parted ways in hopes of finding the mother load.  I’ve met a few people from the South Sound Mycological Club now and they all seem pretty nice.  Check out their site linked above for more info.  It’s good to know there are other folks outside of the Seattle area up to the same things as us and fun to joke around with them.

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14 Morels found in about a 2ft. diameter.

We made a quick stop at a new place that we had scoped out earlier.  It looked good from the car but after getting out and walking around for a few minutes it just didn’t seem right.  We decided to go back to where we were the previous day and look in that area some more.

And wouldn’t you know it we started finding more Morels.  We hit up another trail where we had found some the previous year, to our excitement they were there again.  One or two here and there and in a few spots three and four in tight groups, right on the side of the trail.

We headed up the hill to try our luck over yonder.  I quickly spotted ten in a nice group all standing proudly in the sunlight.  I giddily cut them as close to the ground as possible, collecting as much of these delicious nuggets of nature as I could.  After that, we found random Morels scattered about, tucked into the landscape just waiting for Erin and me to find them.  And as we did our bags grew heavier and are smiles turned to wide grins, the kind of childlike delight.

We zig zagged the terrain overlapping each other’s paths then orbiting out to the edge of our sight range.  I struck my second big cluster and called Erin over and it was a good thing I did too.  From her perspective, she spotted a few I couldn’t see and as she was collecting them I found a couple more hidden under the dead grass.  Evidently, these two were a little more shy than the rest of the bunch.  In total this small spot yielded fourteen Morels (pictured above).

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Out of my way random buff colored mushrooms, I’ve got Morels to find.

I did my best to collect some specimens for our spring event, Mushroom Maynia.  Some of the readers who attended may have even looked at a few under the microscope.  It’s hard though, to focus on other mushrooms when you know Morels are lurking in the forest.  Every time you bend down to gather “others” as I call them, is time that could be spent searching for what in my opinion is the tastiest, most beautiful, wondrous and other earthly mushroom of them all, the Morel.

Weather permitting, there is probably another week or two of good Morel hunting left, albeit higher and higher up the mountain.  If your good and I mean really good you can supposedly stretch the season out over another month or more, but this may just be a bit of hogwash.  Although I want it to be true and maybe as I grow older and wiser I will know the secrets of summer Morel hunting too, but I think it may just be a rural legend.

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2lbs on the nose.