As promised I am writing about my recent trip foraging for mushrooms. In a previous article I mention that I had found a good mushroom spot along the salmon river in Oregon. I returned to this spot after the hunting season to see if there were any mushrooms left.
The weather had turned cold at the end of the Archery season and we even had a bit of snow. As is usually the case the snow didn’t last long and the temps warmed up, so I ventured back to my hunting spot to see what mushrooms had survived.
On the drive in I saw many mushrooms along the roadside, most of which are inedible but nonetheless a good indicator that the bloom was still on.
I did manage to spot a small patch of White Chanterelles along the road emerging under a rhododendron bush. This was a great find and we were off to a good start. I didn’t leave my house until almost noon, so I knew time was limited. So not as much hiking as I would have liked.
The meadow I was going to is surrounded by old growth forest and is really more of a rhododendron bog, very difficult to hike through. I finally got there about 3:30pm after checking a couple places on the way in. I was pleased to see many Matsutake mushrooms growing on the roadside as I approached my destination, and I quickly had a gallon or so of these. As always I examined them much more closely once I got home and found that about half of what I had, looked like Death Caps a Matsutake look alike and a very common mistake. Know your mushrooms!! These a very similar and VERY easy to get mixed up when they are covered in dirt and grow in the same areas.
Death Cap (Amenita genus)
Anyway, once at the meadow I encountered the abundance of mushrooms I had remembered from hunting season. There were mushrooms everywhere, so I grabbed my pack and my rifle (hiking alone in this area is not wise even with a gun) and off I went.
At first all I saw was a beautiful but inedible collection of mushrooms. Mushrooms of every color, reds, oranges, brown, purple, pink, white and even black. once I got down the hill and closer to the river though I started seeing what I had come for, Golden Chanterelles. A sea of them.
I quickly filled a one gallon Ziploc bag, and then another. With the weather freezing at night I knew there was no need for restraint as they all would be dead within days, so I continued on. Within about 40 yards I had filled the four gallon sized bags I had with me and run out of places to put them, so I had to return to the truck. Next time I will bring baskets and not bags, and have enough room for more then four gallons.
I did collect a bears head (Lions Mane), the Matsutakes mentioned earlier and a gallon of White Chanertelles, so about 7 gallons in all.
I urge you to know your mushrooms before eating them, many have poisonous lookalikes, and can make you very sick or worse. I always examine each one when I get home and start cleaning them, and if you are not sure please don’t risk it. I do not recommend wasting natures precious bounty, but poisoning yourself is not an option.
There are a great many edible and medicinal plants, herbs and mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest and I encourage each of you to learn and enjoy them.