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.
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.
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.
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.
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!