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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My 100th Blog Post!

It was almost three years ago (and 100 posts!) when I started this blog/website. That was right after I had launched my author page on Facebook. It’s been an amazing three years with my professional life centered around what I love to do. And oddly enough, I’m most thankful that I can see lots of ways to grow as an author. It really is about the journey and not the destination! I like to think I’m still in the beginning of a fulfilling and exciting adventure, one with lots of twists and turns and milestones to celebrate, and more importantly, people to share it with. ­čÖé

I’ve shared about quite a few hikes over the last couple of years, but I have so many more places to go. Of course I want to revisit all my favorite places in Oregon. That’s one thing I love about where I live: all the hiking and wild areas to explore in the mountains and on the coast. I’ve started visiting Eastern Oregon more and finding a different kind of beauty there. I recently learned there’s a small number of moose living in the North Eastern corner of Oregon, and I’ve been dreaming about exploring there in the summer and seeing if we can spot them. They’re some of the smallest moose and have little antlers. So here’s to new horizons and more writing!

I thought I’d celebrate my 100th blog by adding another freebie to my list – this one is free today and tomorrow. If you haven’t read The Cowboy Kiss, now’s the time! It’s short, fun and flirty. This joins my two perma free books, Embers of Hope and The Fairy and Her Giant.

Here’s a view back at my house (somewhere out there) from a hike to a mountain top.

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Treasure Hunting in The Woods

What’s more fun than an Easter Egg Hunt? Foraging Chanterelle mushrooms in the woods in the mossy forest floor. My husband and I went sighted in our hunting rifles (and I put a hole right in the middle of my target several times!) and then went mushroom hunting under the tall timber, where thick moss grows over the stumps and logs. We’d find one sticking up here and there and discovered, if we poked around the surrounding moss, we could find several more. They were hiding this time.

We came home with over 9 pounds of mushrooms in our pillow cases, which made it fun because it looked like Santa’s bags. And when you pick mushrooms, you can’t resist making mushroom soup. I started that and broccoli soup for the kids. I’d promised them broccoli soup before finding all the mushrooms, and cheddar broccoli soup is pretty irresistible too. So I ended up with two big pots of yummy homemade soup.

Of course you have to really, really know what you’re doing if you forage wild mushrooms. We’ve learned from books (What the Rain Brings, our favorite) and my husband’s brother who is a biologist. Chanterelles are one fairly easy to identify. There are some that we can almost identify, but we won’t eat them! Almost isn’t good enough. If you take the time to learn about edible mushrooms, it can be very rewarding.