Lobster mushroom - Eagles Cliff, Washington - November 1998
I am not a mycologist. I am a generalologist. Yet when I lived in the Pacific Northwest I learned to confidently gather about 14 species of wild edible mushrooms. And let me tell you, they are delish. I enjoy learning about all the plants wherever I am, but especially the edibles. You just never know.
Dehydrating at Oregon Caves
In between seasons leading cave tours at Oregon Caves National Monument I volunteered one winter and helped with their mycology inventory. It’s a job I’d never been hired to do, but then you can volunteer to do a lot of things you’re not qualified for.
(all following images taken along the Widforss trail Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim)
I’d walk trails hunting mushrooms, take photos on site, give each one a number, carefully pop it out of the ground and take more photos, then gently pack it in a box and go on to another mushroom.
I built a lab in an abandoned building for the next step which included filling out a form with as much description as possible, photographing again, whole and cut in half, then put them in the dehydrator.
Once dry, I’d package them in plastic bags and put them in the freezer to await shipping to the real mycologist in Portland. When I found choice edibles I was allowed to gather enough to eat, plus some for my supervisor.
When Mike and I discovered such a variety of mushrooms hiking the Widforss Trail, including a choice Oyster, I emailed our Science division and asked about their mycology inventory.
After about six people that couldn’t tell me a thing I was finally sent a list of the North Rim inventory, taken back in the 1950s. And by the looks of it, whoever found the mushrooms around our Administration offices didn’t know any more about mushrooms than I do.
I was invited to help out. I mentioned the need for a dehydrator so samples could be added to the Park’s herbarium. Maybe next year I was told.
Two weeks later I returned to the Widforss trail to look for mushrooms, taking more photos with identification in mind.
Barely 100 yards (91 m) from the trailhead I spotted a variety of species so sat down with my notebook, camera and knife.
After eight species my pen ran out of ink.
So I continued my hike just taking more photos and looking for the Oyster choice edibles but they were past their prime.
That’s the day I came home and Mike showed me the choice Shaggy Manes.
So, I’ll just keep on looking at mushrooms in the meantime and hoping for some more choice edibles.
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