Waterfalls in the rain, and mushrooms too

This time of year it gets rainy and night falls at five o’clock. By most accounts, it’s time to read by the fire with a cup of hot coffee. I do enjoy reading and writing during the long winter evenings, but I also love getting out into the mountains to enjoy the cool air, misty mornings, autumn colors and mushrooms. I live about forty minutes from the base of the mountain range so I often go up into the Rogue Umpqua Divide to explore, hike, mountain bike, and pick berries. There’s dozens and dozens of different mushrooms in the woods too this time of year, pushing up through the moist moss, growing out of logs or hiding under ferns. Most are fun to look at but not fun to eat, except chanterelles. You can find them in the stores in Oregon right now, or pick up to a gallon without a permit. There are other edible mushrooms too, but chanterelles are by far the easiest to identify and best tasting. Just do some research on identifying them and on scaly chanterelles, which can give some stomach upset.

I usually pick a bag to make mushroom soup, egg and mushroom scramble, or other dishes. The other night I stuffed breaded wild turkey breast with a chanterelle/bacon/scallop stuffing, and then made chanterelle gravy to go over. It was easily the best meal I’ve eaten in several years!

I’ll share a few shots below of some whacky looking, unidentified mushrooms. I took a picture and left them alone for others to enjoy.

I’ve seen a lot of bear sign on my last few hikes. In one spot, I hiked up a ridge and found a group of about a dozen large tree trunks that were scratched clear into the wood, and some still had bear hair caught in the bark.

In another spot, I hiked way up a hillside into the old growth timber and followed a stream up the mountain to some meadows. On the way down, there was bear sign that hadn’t been there before–a big icky pile of it. Right next to that, the bear had torn apart a five foot sapling, tearing the top half of the tree off and then chewing off branches. I’m guessing it might have smelled my trail and marked its territory! I love finding little mysteries in the woods and imaging what could have happened. It’s all a guess, but still fun. I haven’t encountered a bear in the woods while on foot. They’re very secretive and like to hide from people. But I’ve spotted a few while driving on a country road. The most recent one, this year, was a small black bear, probably a baby from this year. I caught sight of its back and watched it take off into the trees as we drove around a corner.

Man, I wish I had taken my camera on those hikes so I could share pictures!

Here’s some from other hikes. This is Grotto Falls, out in the mountains east of Glide, Oregon.

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These falls are beautiful, especially in the fall time, and fun because you can walk behind them into a large cave.

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This mushrooms was a over a foot wide. The little one next to it was a normal sized mushroom a few inches tall.

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Not sure what this is, but doesn’t it looks like coral from the ocean?

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This one caught my fancy because it’s growing out of an old log, sticking up six inches.

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This is Youtlkut Pillars, which you can climb, if you can find them. There’s one sign that I know about, 1/4 mile from them, marking the road. Maybe you can climb them for me if you’re so inclined, because I’m not going up that!

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Falltime in Oregon

The rainy season started recently and we drove up in the mountains in search of mushrooms the last two weekends. The good news? On the first trip, we found at least 30 different varieties in reds, whites, oranges and browns.

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I thought this one looked like a flower. It’s not on our list of edible mushrooms that we know well, so I didn’t look up the name.

 

 

 

The bad news? None were what we were looking for: Chanterelles. But we found three kinds that were probably edible, so we brought some home to check them against our mushroom guide. It turned out one kind wasn’t edible, and the other two were okay to eat but not that great.

 

 

 

 

 

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The trip wasn’t a loss, however. I love getting out into the mountains and exploring. There’s so many breathtaking sights to see and wonderful forest smells to breathe in. It just takes warm boots, a waterproof jacket and pants.

We followed a small, mossy creek up the hillside. I have a weird habit of thinking I’ll find treasure in places like this, and I guess I do if you count mushrooms, berries and serenity. I should also count the special time spent with my husband or entire family, depending on the trip.

These photos are from the first hike.

 

 

 

 

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This is an elk rub; the branches were worn off up to ten feet high. I’ve wanted to see one for some time. It even had elk hair on it still.  (By the way, you can click these photos to enlarge them.)

I actually did get to see elk on a hike about four years ago. We went up to the top of the North Umpqua River (a spring) very early one spring when there were still spots of snow on the ground.  We watched a herd of elk graze and saw another herd come over a hill above us. I looked up at the elk and even saw the whites of their eyes. It looked like their eyes rolled as they reeled back and took off in the other direction. They were pretty surprised to see me too. I guess I also see the herd on the way to the coast once or twice a year–they come right up to the elk viewing area. But this was the first elk rub I’ve seen.

So back to the mushroom finding…It rained a lot during the week, and continued on the second weekend, but we knew that meant more mushrooms would be popping up. We went to a different spot this time where we’ve found Chanterelles before. It can be tricky to find the right road, but as we explored, I spotted an orange spot in the moss. A Chanterelle! We stopped and looked around to find quite a few more. So this time, we came home happy with plenty of mushrooms for cream of mushroom soup.  I have a hot bowl of soup next to me right now, thanks to my wonderful husband.

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I also have the rest of the Chanterelles spread out on the table so they’ll stay dry. Even if you brush them off out in the woods, it’s impossible to get rid of all the pine needles, bits of moss and some dirt.  I actually don’t mind because it smells like the deep woods right here. It’s that mossy, earthy, evergreen smell.

If you’re not able to get out in the woods, you can actually buy Chanterelle mushrooms in some stories this time of year, sans the moss and pine needles.

 

 

I’ll leave you with this picture of the sunset behind my house from the other night. I was home with my 9-year-old son and we watched a storm roll in.  I spend a lot of time looking at this view, when I should be writing!

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