17 Mar Forager’s Report – March 17, 2018
Colleen picked me up early morning and we drove towards Salt Point. Driving to the coast after passing Petaluma, the valley was socked in fog. It did not look like it would lift by the time we arrived at Salt Point, as it did not until the afternoon.
Instead of going to our usual place, this time we decided to see what was coming up in the trail Kevin took our group in February, up Meyers Grade. The rest of our group, we were sure, would be looking in the lower trails, so we took to the top of the hill.
Almost to the trail head, Collen pointed at something growing out at the side of the road, so we drove back to have a look. It turned out to be two huge open mushrooms and eight gorgeous buttons of Agaricus Subrutilescens. We had not even began to hunt and we were already scoring, Oh joy!
Continuing our hunt, we decided to traverse the whole trail, but after such an auspicious beginning, did not find anything of note. We did find an Amanita that we did not recognize then and which turned out to be a second score. Ambling down the trail, the calypso orchids were blooming and we took our time enjoying their beauty. Some late-blooming Trillium were also up and so were Indian warriors (Pedicularis densiflora) carpeting the side of the road.
All along, we had been going down a gentle but consistent slope. Coming to the end of the trail, we paid the price for the easy walk when the slope turned out to be a steep climb. The difficult part of the trail was not long, just annoying.
Walking back to the car, I saw some white on the other side of the road and decided to investigate. There were two mushrooms hiding under the duff. First thought they were death caps (A. phalloides) because of the greenish tint but, after moving the duff away, I saw the beautiful white universal veil covering most of the cap. I had found my first Amanita vernicoccora (I really thought it was a velosa, but was soon disabused by Kingman and other experts in our group).
It was noon and we went down the hill to meet our group. The potluck, as usual, was stupendous and the company pleasant with many youngsters and some children present. Feel very hopeful for the continuance of the mushrooming culture because have lately been noticing that the number of young people at the forays are increasing and their interest in mushrooms augmenting.
At the table, found out that the experts had never seen an A. subrutilescens as large as the one we found. Personally, I think what took the cake for that foray was an enormous white Hydnum repandum. It was also pronounced the largest they had ever seen, and the most beautiful. It did not look like a Hydnum, but a Chanterelle, because of its flower-like look.
There were many other interesting mushrooms on display but, even though it has been raining consistently lately, the quantity of mushrooms do not compare with the quantity of mushrooms in other years. At least we found some specimens, some in good condition. Last month most of our finds were desiccated. Still, it is a privilege to be able to go out and enjoy the woods. We are so lucky to live in California!