I went hiking and mushroom hunting with my friend J yesterday in the Olympic Mountains.
He picked me up at 11 am. I had been mostly watching and occasionally bailing as my boat, inherited from my father, was pulled out of the water by a crane and put on a trailer. The trailer is newly acquired and newly fixed. Sun Tui is a 25 foot sailboat built in Hong Kong in the 1950s by an American company. My father picked her because she has a full keel and plywood sides, so very stable in these cold waters and less maintenance. Though all wooden boats are holes in the water that you throw money in to.
Anyhow, it rained most of the time. Usually we get this fuzzy mist stuff, but no, this was wet. I had been out since 8 am, so changed my wool socks, switched from rubber boots to hiking boots, and switched from foul weather pants to an actual rain suit. I picked up a yellow rain jacket and pants in my second hand wanderings. It says Qwest on the left chest, so I can now work on peoples' phone lines and computer modems.
We drove to the hike, south of Quilcene. We hiked and talked. We started seeing mushrooms at the campsite four miles in. I am still slow hiking and get short of breath even when we go uphill only a little. He says that he knows 11 edible mushrooms so far. There were lots of ones that are not poisonous but don't taste good, one kind that is psychedelic, one that was purple and looked psychedelic and then fairy mushrooms. Lovely.
We started finding golden chanterelles. They don't grow on dead wood, they have very flat gills and then have branches out near the edge, plus they have a shape that's pretty distinctive. Also a solid stem. We weren't finding tons.
We found some oyster mushrooms, soft white mushrooms growing on a downed tree. We had to go off trail to get them and were both wandering a bit. I saw something white and went to investigate. I called J over and score: a sparassis radicata, a Western Cauliflower mushroom. It looks like soft white egg noodles, the first one like a brain growing out of the woods, a little bigger than my head. There were two more behind the tree, more yellow and these were a good two feet in circumference. We picked the first one and a little of one yellow one, but didn't have enough bags. I think I can find the tree again, though, because they come back. We had gone far enough and headed back. We saw some of the very poisonous destroying angels and one bolete and a couple of small hedgehog mushrooms. There were also quite a lot of brown scaly mushrooms, some of which are edible and some of which make some people pretty sick. Best to stay with the distinctively safe ones.
Home by about 4:30, quite damp thought feet dry. Now I had two sets of dripping clothes. I was tired and ate some leftovers first. Then I read some recipes and sauteed part of the cauliflower mushroom in butter with salt and pepper. Yum. My appetite is finally showing up on some days, which is good.
I want to get a mushroom book but would still rather go out with someone who knows what they are doing. J hikes for miles and miles all over the place, 10 day solo trips. He's seen bears and cougars. I have seen marmots, lots, but would rather see a cougar when I'm with someone. I am a lot smaller than J and might look more tempting.