by Brady Raymond
Right in front of me, shrouded in green embrace was the fungus. The cap was large, maybe 7 inches across and orange. It was awash in the dappled summer sunlight, warm and content but in poor health, riddled with bug holes. It was clear as I knelt down what I was dealing with, Leccinum. The scab-like netting along the stipe instantly reminded me of Leccinum scabrum a Bolete of sorts and a mushroom that I have seen many times in Seattle, around some Birch trees in backyards and other green areas while out and about.
It was the only mushroom of the day, that we saw anyway and I’m calling is Leccinum insigne. And it wasn’t until we were packing up to head back to the truck that I had noticed it, just off the bank of the rocky creek we were hiking along. We were in desert country, hot and dry even crisp but things were a bit cooler down in the shallow canyon that the creek ran through. As far as I could tell this mushroom was alone, in the arid landscape. A landscape not overly suitable for the robust fruiting bodies of mushrooms, except close to the lifeblood of the bush, water.
What the desert lacks in large fruiting fungi it makes up for in bugs. There was a breathtaking bounty of beautiful butterflies along the creek on this hike. Many of the delicate creatures landing together in large groups on the muddy ground that made up the saturated banks of the creek. From what I have read, it is thought that butterflies, particularly males, seek out the salts and possibly other minerals which may aid in reproduction. Whatever their reasoning, it was an opportunity for me to snap a few photos.
by Brady Raymond
The weather has been cool the last week and subsequently, my mind still thinks about mushrooms. Around the house, I’ve noticed a couple things fruiting, some Coprinellus in the garden woodchips and some Agaricus in the duff off the side of the road. These are farmland mushrooms though, domesticated in a sense, I wanted things more wild, mycorrhizal and Ascomycete in nature. I still want Morels.
Once again, the family and I set out to try our luck on another weekend mushrooming romp. What would we find and would we even find anything? We figured we’d snag a couple Morels, enough to hopefully make it worth firing up the dehydrator and adding a little more to our reserves.
I kept wondering if each Morel was my last for the season.
Photo was taken just over 4000ft. Central Washington, a rugged, unforgiving landscape.
by Brady Raymond
It may not be summer by the calendar’s account yet but it looks to be turning that page here on the ground. As the temperature rises things are starting to dry out over on the east side, add time and a little wind to the equation and Morel season quickly turns to wildfire season. Please, if you are out camping in the coming weeks, pay attention to the fire warnings and any burn bans that may be in effect for your next trip.
Summer may mean fire season but it doesn’t quite spell the end for Morels. I was lucky enough to make a few quick jaunts up some east side slopes this past weekend, each trip had the potential for more Morels than were found but on the first trip, I was hindered by motorcycle gear and on the second, children. Lucky for me I enjoy the company of both my motorcycle and my kids, so the small quantity of Morels is made up for by the smiles on everybody’s faces.
Best scouting tool, dual sport motorcycle. Atlases, GPS and google Earth come in handy too.
As much as moto-gear and kids can slow you down while looking for mushrooms, both are an investment in the long run. The motorcycle is an amazing scouting tool, keeping tabs on all the roads we frequent and checking out new ones before we try traversing them in a larger vehicle with the family. There is nothing worse than backing up on a mountain road looking for a place to turn around because of a washout or downed tree.
Kids, on the other hand, they are just more sets of eyes and closer to the ground too. But, as much as I want my kids to enjoy mushroom hunting, I’m less enthusiastic about either of them getting the taste for Morels. I already have to share them with my wife. I imagine in a few years that our spring haul will be much more substantial once the little ones put on a few inches and hone their mushroom vision into a fine laser-like focus.