by Brady Raymond
As most of Washington State sweltered this last week, coastal Washington was cool and misty. The family and I got away for a long weekend out in Moclips, the cooler weather was a nice respite from the oven baking further inland and what would you know there were Chanterelles growing too. The golden beauties pictured above were found about 100ft. above sea level just over a sandy bluff from the ocean.
Our trip was more focused on all things beach, so, unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to scour the woods too well but, I imagine that there are more to be found for someone with the time. There were a number of specimens nearby that were a bit too small for the plate but looked as though they would surpass what I had collected in about a week or so.
I also came across a few Russula, an unknown gilled mushroom and a few Galerina. Things were looking pretty good and if you need a taste of the fall to come, head to the coast and try your luck.
Fresh Chanterelle pizza in July? Yes, it’s true you can find mushrooms in the summer here in WA. You just need to find areas where the weather is more reminiscent of the spring or fall.
by Brady Raymond
I keep reminding myself that things are cyclical, not necessarily circular but more likely some form of a distorted oval. Yes, the seasons make their rounds but they do it differently from year to year. Some seasons bucket loads of mushrooms are brought in by almost anyone that glances way of suitable habitat and yet other years you scratch by the best you can. All of this is overlaid on a 3-D geography interacting with weather systems both worldly and cosmic.
Why are some year’s seasons stellar while others kind of, well, meh? I like to think it is everything else in life, but it is likely that my own distractions shielded the mushrooms from my lustful gaze. Maybe my brain wasn’t fully tuned into them this year, maybe I need to find new spots altogether, maybe the last Morel to have ever existed has been picked, put into a basket and taken home to be eaten by some newbie undeserving of such a tasty forest treat. Oh, the horror if that were to be true. I did, however, find enough this year to feed well upon, and I am thankful for all that nature has provided me, yet I still I want more, more from a season that seems to be breaking fast.
It’s not much to look at but, they are all mine so at least there is that.
Oh, the glory.
by Brady Raymond
What will be the outcome for the “Spring 2018 Washington Mushroom Season?” Only the future knows. However, I know that I’m finding Morels at various elevations. I also know that I’m loving every second of it. I worry a little that the weather is going to get too hot too quick and before we know it the season will be over. I cast these thoughts aside though, and I focus on the task at hand, which is quite simple, “To find as many Morels as I can.”
So far, the pickings have been a little slim for me, but what I have found has been thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve seen a few other folks while out and only one looked to have a bag with very much in it, so I don’t think I’m doing too bad. The two times I have been out this season We’ve collected enough to feed three for both breakfast and dinner. These are meager pickings comparatively speaking but, one has to be thankful for anything Mother Nature is willing to offer up.
Even the simplest of meals is awesome cooked over campfire coals, especially breakfast.
If you want to learn about mushrooms gather round for Brian’s table tours at PSMS field trips.
by Brady Raymond
Morels are here, and that means it’s time to gear up and head out. I have reports of landscape Morels being found in the Puget Sound lowlands and as warmer weather moves in we can start moving up into the mountains. Landscape Morels are good but mountain Morels are better and probably cleaner too. Make sure if you find landscape Morels to be discerning when picking them for the table. Many urban landscapes are fouled with pesticides and other harmful contaminants, caution is urged when collecting near human populations. If you are lucky enough to spot some locale landscape Morels count it as a good omen for the rest of the season.
Spring also means the beginning of the 2018 PSMS field trip season. If you’ve been on field trips in the past you probably already know that it is one of the best ways to learn about mushrooms and if you haven’t been on a field trip let me reiterate, it is one of the best ways to learn about mushrooms. There is no substitute for getting out in the woods and finding mushrooms first hand, taking in all of the peripheral clues and of course having access to one of PSMS’s most valuable resources, Brian Luther.
Want to know more about PSMS? Check out this video!
Share with your friends! www.psms.org
by Brady Raymond
Cold frosty nights usually spells the end for most mushroomers, but the observant are still rewarded with a plethora of fungal finds. 2017 may not go down as “the year” at least in our neck of the woods but I have valued each moment spent outdoors with my family and have enjoyed very much what nature offered up to us this year. Although the inevitable cold wet months of winter have yet to set in, the general gloom and sulk of it all are lessened by thoughts of spring and of course, Morels.
The cold weather doesn’t have to be the end of your season, there are plenty of rotten, moldy slimy mushroom carcasses to be found under wet leaves and amongst saturated duff. Good luck identifying any of them. There are also conks and other persistent woody fungal fruitbodies, scattered through the forest and parks. Thankfully, cold weather is relative, and often times what folks around here complain about, folks in other parts would laugh at as being considered cold. Truth is, winters around the Puget Sound are fairly mild and as long as it gets above freezing during the day, I think it’s worth keeping your eyes open, ready to spot any frosty mushrooms that make themselves apparent.
The two mushrooms on the left were found down the road from my house. The mushroom on the right is one from my yard. Are they the same?
by Brady Raymond
This article is intended as a preseason metaphysical mushrooming warm up. As our summer edges closer to the inevitable rains of fall, I think it is important that we get our heads right. What follows is my attempt at explaining to myself something about mushrooms. What that is and if it is of any value to the reader is for them to decide.
You don’t have to put a name on a mushroom to understand a mushroom. Putting a name on it only identifies it, understanding a mushroom is a whole different thing. Names help when communicating with other people about a given mushroom, but if you’re trying to understand it from a name alone good luck.
Experience only comes with time, the more time you spend with mushrooms the more you will start to understand them. To fully grasp mushrooms takes time, and as your experience grows so too will your perception of the patterns which associate with fungi. However, many patterns as soon as they start to form become disrupted, but if you broaden the scope of your perception, you may see the same or similar patterns start to reemerge.
When you can instinctively calculate the patterns around you and benefit from understanding them to find more mushrooms, you know you have moved from a novice to a novice+1. It’s a long way to go to get to expert and there is a kind of scientific inflation if you want to get to pro. Though, for many of us being a novice+1 is sufficient enough for what we hope to achieve.
Having a hunch may just be your brain telling you it is recognizing a pattern. In a spot like this, what have you got to lose poking around a bit?
Thanks to Sweta Agrawal for sharing some snapshots of her success this season finding the “Spring King.” Persistence is key when trying to locate this mushroom. It seems that you have to check your spots regularly and catch them just at the right moment if you want to have any real success.
Keeping things simple like the salad pictured above is a great way to enjoy the more subtle flavors of this enigmatic mushroom. On the other hand, you can get quite decadent. If you were lucky enough to find as plentiful of patches as Sweta you can try all sorts of recipes.
Having not found any Boletus rex-veris myself I can’t comment much on distinguishing features. I have a feeling though, that if you have found Boletus edulis in the fall and saw one of these Ceps during spring growing in front of you, alarms would sound and the hunt would be on. Names and seasons aside a Porcini is a Porcini.
Some specimens grow quite large and will be enough for a few meals. But remember, the more you pick the more you’ll have to clean. Always clean your mushrooms in the field as best possible. Doing so makes kitchen chores much more enjoyable. Also, make sure to check for bugs in the field by cutting your mushrooms in half. Remove buggy areas immediately. The bugs will continue eating the mushroom, even after being picked and wreak havoc after a long ride home from the mountains.
If you didn’t find any Spring Kings don’t fret yet. The season is not over for Boletes and Boletus edulis the fall cousin of Boletus rex-veris will be fruiting later this year. So read up and scout some locations while out hiking this summer.
You found some mushrooms but can you find your car? A quick jaunt in the woods can quickly turn into an ominous trek through the wilderness if you don’t pay attention to where you are.
by Wren Hudgins
Wild mushroom foraging may not seem like a dangerous hobby, but there are real risks involved here, as there are in most outdoor activities. Few people would argue that the freedom of not wearing a car seat belt outweighs the safety of wearing one, but people do make their own choices. The point is that there is general recognition that certain preventive behaviors can minimize risk, although not eliminate it. Mushroomers tend to walk off trail and through the woods, so there is always a risk of tripping and falling or otherwise injuring yourself far from your car or the nearest first aid kit. However, by far the greatest danger is getting lost and spending much more time in the woods than you had planned. The quality of that extra time in the woods will vary from life threatening to miserable to merely inconvenient, depending on how prepared you are. A friend of mine is an officer for the Snohomish County Search and Rescue and he thinks that in 2016 there were three lost foragers in Snohomish and Pierce counties, all of which involved extended stays in the forest, in one case overnight, but all three were found. None of the three were adequately prepared. We don’t have numbers on this but there may have been other foragers who were lost but who were adequately skilled and prepared such that they never had to call search and rescue. (BTW, Search and Rescue teams do not charge for being called – at least in WA state)
When you find a bunch of Morels in a small area make sure to mark it on your GPS. Erin and I have some reliable patches that seem to produce each year.
by Brady Raymond
How do you thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country? As folks barbecued with friends and family this past weekend or in my case mushroom hunted, I hope we all took a moment to reflect on the freedoms we have to do these things and the lives that were lost to protect those freedoms. Since I can’t thank those who were lost in the line of duty I would like to thank those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past. Thank you, your service does not go unnoticed by this author.
For the last five years, Erin and I have taken part in what may be the premier mushrooming foray in the Pacific Northwest, maybe even the country. As we arrived at our destination, thoughts of the Morel season coming to a close were on our minds. Things had been dry over the last week and as we all know “dry” is the enemy of fungi. What would we find this weekend? Would we find anything at all?