Wednesday, October 31, 2007

King Boletes / Alice in Wonderland Mushrooms

(Fly Agaric) Alice in Wonderland Mushroom


We left the house before dawn on Saturday and raced to our King Bolete spot. Competition for the King is quite intense. We managed to beat the hoards and our score was 18-11. I found 11 and my daughter found 18. Before we left we ran into no less then two mushroom clubs in the woods. One had came all the way from the Canadian Border.  We left at 11:00  and then went to dinner with my Dad in Tacoma.

On Sunday Afternoon I went for a mini hike at Twana State Park, it's only 3.5 miles but I was pushing a stroller so I got a little bit of a work out. I was hoping to see the salmon spawn at Twana but there were none, I don't know if I am too early or too late.

It was clear that people had been hunting mushrooms at Twana the evidence was everywhere. Toppled buttons, dissected caps and even a pile of Tricholoma focale that someone picked and then dumped out. Maybe they thought they had matsutake? is poison.

I got to look at mushroom spores under a microscope at college last week and I really enjoyed that. I looked at Shrimp Russula and Fat Jacks and they look very different. I'm going to take some more spores in to look at today.

Today I looked at Tricholoma focale, and Chroogomphus vinicolor
under the scope.The Chroogomphus vinicolor spores were much larger 15 microns compared to thee Tricholoma focale that I measured at 2 microns.  I don't know if the ruler 
was calibrated correctly but you get idea.  The Croogomphus
spores were very eliptical while the Tricholoma spores were
very round.   As usual blogger is screwing up my formatting.. :(

Tonight I am dining on Shrimp Russula that I picked on campus.  I think I have finally figured out how to identify them and they are everywhere!

I was too run down to get up early and go on a real hike this Sunday.  My college studies (in statistics) are getting me down and I have my first sinus infection of the season.  I'll probably be sick until April now.

Dead Mans Foot

Our Catch of Kings with a few shaggy manes 
and men on horseback (Tricholoma flavovirens)

King button

Fly Agaric Button in it's Volva
(Alice in Wonderland Mushroom)

Fly Agric Buttons
Alice in Wonderland Mushrooms

More fly agaric
(Amanita muscaria)

Stropharia from campus

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Elk Lake Trail, Jeeping and Mushrooming

Well I was wrong. I was too tired to go hiking this week. My class and a fever is kicking my butt. I still managed to get out and have some fun though.

I can't decide what mushroom to eat first! We started our day by hunting for mushrooms on a public right of way but some jerk from a nearby campground came out and tried to give us a warning for mushroom picking in the campground.  Never mind that we had not set foot in the campground and had picked no mushrooms anywhere that day. We told him off and refused to take the written warning he tried to hand us. I'm temped to call his boss and complain.

With all of the rest of Olympic Peninsula open to us we felt no need to linger by the road so we headed up some high elevations sites but they were below the slush line already. Yep it's too cold up there now. Next we checked out two lower elevation sites both of which I had hiked but had not hunted mushrooms on. The second site was great and I got a grocery sack full of chanterelles and several shrimp russulas (Russula xerampelina).
I've not been brave enough to try to identify and eat a Shrimp Russula before.

I've always wanted to drive from Hoodsport to Hamma Hamma on the back road so we gave it a try. It was a bit confusing even with my GPS but we did find our way to the Hamma Hamma via the 24 road. I found Leccinum ponderosum on the way. That is one I've not seen before and it is supposed to taste good but I have to wait a day to eat it. I tried my Shrimp Russulas today and I only try one new to me mushroom per day.

There were a lot of hunters wearing orange vests and driving really slow down the 24, I guess they were looking for something to shoot from their trucks. If they never get out of their trucks what use are the orange vests?

We came out near the Elk Lake trail. That is a trail that I've never hiked because it is too short to hike. Well that's how I see it. It's too short to make a whole day out of hiking it. But our day was almost over so we stopped and "hiked" it. What a lovely old growth forest! We really enjoyed this stub of a trail. I think the trail used to be much longer and it connected with the Jefferson Ridge Trail once upon a time. I found some angel wings on the trail and then on the way to the Hamma Hamma road I found a few old shaggy manes.

I have more mushrooms then I can eat and such a variety too. I have two kinds of chanterelles, Leccinum ponderosum, Angel Wings, Hedgehogs, Shrimp Russulas and Honey Mushrooms.

Honey Mushrooms grow in my back yard. They only came on this week so I was beginning to think we would get none this year. I guess we just have a late fruiting variety in our back yard.

Most fall mushrooms are starting to wind down and the winter mushrooms are coming on. My class found a nice big Cauliflower mushroom last week and I've been finding Hedgehogs.

I wish I had found that Cauliflower, it was a nice fresh one without a trace of yellow. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Leccinum ponderosum or maybe manzanitae

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mount Rose

Camprobber birds on the summit of Mount Rose with Lake Cushman 3,400 feet below.

Lake Cushman is low this time of year. The dry creek trail (last weeks hike) and drainage can be clearly seen from the summit of Rose. Last year's fired burned the stongest near the summit.

Mushrooms sprouting up in the burned areas

Burned trunks of live trees

Coral Mushroom

Pigs Ears

Today I gave my sore knee the ultimate test. The climb up Mount Rose entails 3,400 feet elevation gain (and loss!) in just 3 miles. My knee feels great! Yeah, I'm so relieved, it was just a mild injury and now it's healed.

I took the clock-wise route today and I had the trail all to myself except at the summit. Another hiker who took the counter clock wise route reached the summit just as I did. But at least I did not have to share the summit with half of Olypmia. I had thought of doing Mount Ellinor today but I did not want to share the trail with throngs of Olympians. I'll save Mount Ellinor for this winter.

I found some nice mushrooms but I did not find any of the mushroom I was really hoping to find. I made the mistake of not picking every mushroom as I passed it and someone came and picked some of the mushrooms near the trail head while I was up on the summit. Oh well, I'm still not going to carry mushrooms to the summit of Mount Rose! Maybe I should have picked them and then stashed them near the trail to pick up on the way down.

I have a lot of energy tonight so I must still be in good hiking condition. Mount Rose is my personal fitness meter. If I can do Mount Rose without aching for the next three days I know I'm in good shape. I might be a bit stiff in the morning though.

This is the first time I've taken the clock-wise route up Rose and it was a nice change of perspective. Also the prettiest spot this time was the same spot where I kept losing the trail in the snow last spring. Of course there is no snow now but the spot is nice and moist and bursting with mushrooms. On the elevation profile this is the relativly level part before the summit.

My college course is keeping me very busy and I never feel caught up but I have decided that I am going to hike every week no matter what. I need to hike to keep my sanity. As intense as my class is I need all the sanity that I can muster..:)

Once again it was nice to just be in the woods and not have to measure rotten logs.

The days haul, Chanterelles, Hedgehogs, Bears Heads and a Purple Cort.

I could not reach this one to pick it.

A scaber stalk. The largest bolete I have ever seen.

A wilted whooly chanterelle with bear grass.

Elevation profile for Mount Rose

Track Log on a topo map

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lower South Fork Skokomish

On Friday my class went out to the Skok again. We measured lots of trees and picked out research projects to be carried out on the Skok. We found a bears head mushroom on the way back to our convoy at the trail head.

our route

Elevation profile

Our Rectangular (well almost) transverse plot

Bears Head Mushroom

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The USFS plans to close the road to Staircase 11/1/07

Well damn! I just read this on the ONP website "The USFS plans to close the road to Staircase 11/1/07." I hope they just mean the gate at staircase but I think they mean the entire length of the road along Cushman, that would make all the trails there (Wagonwheel, Mount Rose, Dry Creek, Copper Creek, North Fork Skok, Shady Lane) unreachable again this winter. This means there will be almost nothing nearby for me to hike again this winter.. :(

Looks like I'll be hiking big creek campground or the lower south fork skok over and over again all winter long. I'm really disappointed. I bet all the homeowners up there are upset too.

It's going to be another long winter.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Dry Creek Trail

(that gravel road is the trail)

Now that the wildlife gates are shut I'm shifting my hiking activities up to the North Fork Skokomish and beyond.

Dry Creek trail is a nice one but only if you put some effort into it. I think it's a shame that the latest and greatest Olympic trail guide tells people to eat lunch and turn around at the 4 mile mark. For the first 4-5 miles this trail bites.

For the first mile you have to hike down a gravel road that is lined with houses, no trespassing signs and giant stumps. For the next three miles you hike along an old logging road that is lined with alder trees and more giant stumps. The forest here must have been spectacular before the City of Tacoma pillaged it. At the 4 mile mark you have to ford "Dry" Creek. Dry creek is not dry, I think it was named after nearby by Dry Mountain. It is here that the trail guide tells people to turn around because the creek ford is "hazardous" It is not a river it's just creek even in the rainy season. I see nothing dangerous about wading across it.

After you cross the creek the next 1/2 mile or so of the trail is still lined with stumps. At about 4 1/2 miles the trail reaches what must have been the douglas fir line and that is where the stumps are replaced by actual living breathing trees. The forest here is very nice and I think that the forest up on the ridge top is climax old growth forest, it is all hemlock and cedar but it's also at 3,400 feet so the trees are not huge but they are nice.

Once over the ridge the trail drops down to the over logged South fork Skokomish drainage then it turns into a decommissioned logging road and then ends at a logging road that is rough enough to bottom out my Jeep. The road is also locked up way back behind a wild life gate. So both ends of the trail have been ruined by logging, one end logged by the city of Tacoma and the other logged by Simpson. But the ridge line in the middle was spared and it is very lovely.

I ate my lunch on the ridge top and turned around. I started hiking at about 10am and finished up at about 5pm.    (The first time I hiked this trail it was was covered in deep snow and I had to hike out in the dark.) It rained for the entire time but I did not get cold or wet and I really enjoyed my hike. My total mileage for the day was 12.9 with 2,600 feet elevation gain. I had the trail entirely to myself.

My knee did not give me any problems but my shoes did. I seem to have worn out the tread on my hiking shoes already and I was slipping around way too much. I think I bought these shoes in April. April was not that long ago but I did hike a lot of miles this summer so I guess I won't complain.

My class at Evergreen went to the Lower South Fork Skokomish trail yesterday and what a herd we are. If you want to avoid a mob I'd say avoid that trail on Fridays until December 14th. We scoured every square inch of the first mile of trail for mushrooms on the way in and on the way out. Our assignment was to spend 2-3 hours measuring trees. I've got a ton of math to do now so I can figure out the Basal Area of the trees then I get to write a scientific paper all about the measurements I took. I really enjoyed my hike today and it was nice to just go be in the woods without having to measure trees.

I found a mushroom that smells very strongly like almond extract. I think it's a "gray almond waxy cap" (Hygrophorus agathosmus) what do you think it is?? It smells so nice but it tastes bland. I only nibbled a little bit of it raw and spit it out.

My first blog of this trail

This smells so nice! But tastes so bland.

That's Mount Rose in the fog

Tacoma's tribute to Mason County and the Twana people.

Tiny Salamander

My ridge top lunch spot

a cluster of mycoheterotrophs

There were some nice fat blue berries here

Taken from the causeway

Pigs ears

another mycoheterotroph

possibly a shrimp russula

A real prize!

Elevation profile

Track log

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Chanterelles by the crate

Today after we both got out of school my eldest daughter and I headed for a chanterelle spot that I discovered last year. Last year was a bad year for chanterelles but I found a couple pounds of them even in this spot last year.

The area nearby was logged very recently and if they had gone just a few more feet this patch would have been destroyed.

It is such a good year for chanterelles that I managed to find one this morning when I was walking to class from my car.

a nice mess of mushrooms

I mountain of mushrooms and some toys.

A mushroom or a flower?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Chanterelles by the basketful

We had our best day ever of chanterelle hunting yesterday. This is shaping up to be an excellent mushroom year. We found these in our extra secret chanterelle spot. Last year this same spot yielded absolutely nothing the 5-6 times we checked it.

We checked our King Bolete spot over the weekend and we found no Kings but lots of mushroom hunters. I think it's still a bit early for Kings.