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)
This road in the Entiat Mountains is out there. We didn’t see many other people on this road.
by Brady Raymond
Heading out to the woods to look for some delicious mushrooms? Bought yourself a sweet new ride five years ago, what could go wrong? A dead battery at 5000ft. with no cell reception, night setting in and lows in the 30’s. You don’t have a blanket, you ate all your food and there is only one bottle of water left. You feel responsible for the two friends you took out hunting, neither of which has much if any experience in the woods. They couldn’t tell you the difference between a Phaeolus schweinitzii and a Russula xerampelina let alone any of the cardinal directions. You secretly hope their lack of skill in the backwoods is an advantage for you if things come down to cannibalism.
Truth is, you’ll only be out here one uncomfortable night. Your at a a popular trailhead and more than likely you can get a jump sometime tomorrow morning, at least you have jumper cables.
It seems obvious to pack for unintended circumstances but I’ve been mushrooming with folks who don’t even bring knives and once someone forgot water. Below is a list of things you should probably have in your car just in case.
by Brady Raymond
Gearing up is all part of the fun right? It’s also the smart thing to do if you have any common sense. Aside from the random mushroom find, you usually have to put some thought and at least a little bit of physical effort into the endeavor. You don’t want to get out to the woods and find the mother load only to realize you forgot a knife, and yes I have seen this happen to people, no knife. “What are they thinking” I always wonder to myself, I carry a knife ninety percent of the time I do anything, and if it’s not on me it’s almost always within reach. Well, maybe they didn’t have a handy article like this to read, hence I’m writing it.
Insider tip, carry a knife, always. The next logical thing would be something to contain your quarry e.g. basket, or sack of some sort (no plastic bags). You can clean up pretty good with these couple of items alone but for longer treks it is advisable to pack a bit more.