Fungus Debriefing #3

Walking ’round Waptus River for a few days in October

A mishmash of mushrooms grew from the dampened earth, but only a few were of the edible sorts. Saw one gigantic bolete, but so had the worms!

Flushes of amanita muscarina were seen along the way with their vibrant caps adding a toadstool touch to the kaleidoscope of fall color.

Amanita muscarina, viewed from above in the header picture, is an easily identifiable mushroom in the fall forest. In spanish these toxic toadstools are sometimes called “matamoscas” , which loosely translates to “fly killer”.

Mosca is spanish for fly, and originates from the latin musca, from where we get, muscarina.

In English the mushrooms are sometimes called fly amanitas or fly agaric.

The term agaric comes from ancient Greek and refers to a broad group of mushrooms which bear a cap, gills and a stem.

Basically an agaric is what 99% of people would draw if they got mushroom as a Pictionary clue. Close your eyes, think ‘mushroom’. Yep, that one.

…but why the fly?

Seems that in ye olde dayes, the colorful mushrooms were dried and sprinkled into milk which would be left out to spoil. The poisonous curdled concoction would then draw the little moscas in for a drink of doom.

Anyway, that’s a little bit about muscas, moscas y muscarinas… Not that you asked.

Later wandering led to the discovery of some intriguing white mushroom buds erupting from the forest floor in a rather straight line of staggered clumps.

These were collected and later identified as Matsutakes. Bonus!



Went for a jaunt around a favorite haunt…

Lot of inedible russulas springing from the duff, some had sprung well before I got there, probably with the recent rains. Now they decayed where they stood.

I got fooled by more than a few big leaf maple leaves that fit the right color and shape of a chantrelle, starkly gold against the shade of the heavy forest canopy. At least from a distance.

Despite the maple’s ruse (I bet that ol’ tree was just laughing it’s mossy wooden ass off!) I managed to pluck a few handfuls of chantrelles from the duff as well as a surprise trio of lobsters.

Got home and threw the whole lot of em into the dehydrator! Destined to be added to backpacking soup!

○••••••••••¡clic for more pics!•••••••••••○

Fungus Debriefing #2


Happened upon a handful of Lion’s Mane mushrooms while hiking around the Mountain Loop…

As I passed each one, I thought “I’ll grab it on the way down, save them some trail beating”.

On the way back down, all but a pair had been cut!

*welp… you snooze you lose I guess!

I’d seen a couple patches of little chantrelle buds in a few places, but missed them in darkness that had fallen upon our return trip.

Before the dusk started to settle in, I spied a King Bolete that looked ok, but upon closer inspection was pretty wormy.


Roamed around the flanks of Bessemer Mountain for most of the day in a fruitless search…

Only one tiny chantrelle was discovered amongst a forest full of little orange wannabes.

Some few odd specimens of boletes and dead wood loving polypores were collected for further examination.

We followed a trail up from the CCC road that turned out to be a backwoods downhill bike track.

It was clear a lot of work was put into the course’s construction, but it’s current state suggests that the zenith of it’s use may have passed.

•••••••••••••••••MORE PICS•••••••••••••••••

Fungus Debriefing #1

2018SEP16: The preceding weeks brought some rain to the western mountains, a good sign to the savvy mushroomer.

Vine maple leaves were beginning to turn; reds and yellows. Sometimes the clash of colors appeared like a still life wildfire burning up the hillsides.

Manic weather dumped a few solid sheets of rain before ebbing into a mixed nebula of moisture. A benevolent window opened up later in the day, seemingly rewarding all those who rode it out.

My first finds were some soggy lobster mushrooms; not impressive, but at least I knew they were out there.

“Missed ’em by a week!”

This was a repeating phrase I heard in my head as I started the hike to another area I knew to be productive in the past.

When I got there I immediately ran into more soggy lobsters poking up out of the duff.

“Told ya, missed em by a week!”

Not far away, at the base of a young Douglas fir, I spotted a large cauliflower mushroom. The outer lobes seemed clean and free of infestation.

Harvesting only the choicest parts of the big mushroom, I thought it best to leave much of the fungal mass remaining to do it’s thing.

After that it seemed my luck took a little upturn and I scared up a few lobsters in prime shape. I also discovered a pair of chantrelles; one yellow and one white.

No big wildlife sightings, but the ruffed grouse were abundant.

More pics: Fungus Debriefing


LOC: A-1,2

Mt.Pugh 7201′

Meadows high on Mt.Pugh

Mt.Pugh is a beast. That pretty much sums it up, thanks for reading…..

Really, that is all one needs to know about this behemoth, at 5300′ of gain in not much more than five miles it’s a thigh burner to say the least. It’s also not a place for acrophobics, the upper reaches are abundant in dramatic drop offs, airy perches and scramble routes snaking along impossible looking rock.

Forested slopes
Forested slopes

The Mt.Pugh trailhead is found at the very east reaches of the Mtn Loop Hwy, and a NW trailpass is required to park.

Strange fungi
Strange fungi

There isn’t much of a parking lot to speak of, but that being said, it shouldn’t be impossible to find parking. The road in, at the time of this writing, is more or less suitable for all vehicles.

It’s easy to miss the trailhead if you’ve never been here before, so keep an eye out for other cars and if there are none, a trailhead kiosk on the right after taking a wide left bend in the road.

The trail gets going through fairly dense forest, modestly climbing up to Lake Metan. It’s not much of a lake, and has very limited shore access.

Lake Metan
Lake Metan

The waters are still here and of a dark tea color, the result of tannins leaching from the fallen coniferous debris. I think Lake Metan is an endorheic lake and it’s waters have a distinct taste, even when filtered. It is however your last chance for water until much later in the hike, and that is only if you know where to hop off the trail to get some snowmelt.

More fungi
More fungi

Lake Metan also affords some established camping spots if you poke around.

Leaving Lake Metan the trail begins to climb in earnest, switchbacking beneath the tall trees and mixed brush. There isn’t a whole lot to do or see along this section but climb, though keeping an eye out might yield some mushrooms.

After what probably seems like a lot longer than it should have taken you’ll break out into a large boulder and talus field, the “knife edge” ridge looming above you. I always kind of think of this as the first part of a trick the mountain pulls on you,

Stujack Pass
Stujack Pass

“Oh, well I guess thats not too far to the top”…..

The trail continues up and to the notch to the north, across mixed talus and boulders, some of them loose and infested with evil screaming Pikas. Don’t let them get in your head man, they’re waiting for you to roll your ankle, then they’ll strike!

Evil Pika!
Evil Pika!

You’re heading up toward the grassy gap in between a pair of rock buttresses, this is known as Stujack Pass. As far as passes go, I don’t know what ol’ Stu Jack was trying to pass here. He could have just saved a lot of time and elevation by going around the mountain.

Climbing up to Stujack, switchbacking up through steep meadow, the elevation disparity begins to increase dramatically. I imagine right around here is where acrophobics may begin to get uncomfortable. Near the top of the pass meadows give way to crumbling rock which will henceforth from here become common grade.

The trail then snakes up more steep meadow, alpine trees and rock until you begin to gain the “knife edge” ridge and get your first view of Mt.Pugh proper, or the second part of the trick I like to think,

Fall colors
Fall colors

“Wait…what the hell is that? We’re climbing THAT!?”

“We’re climbing that?!”

You’ll now begin to make your way across the “knife edge” ridge, which is full of those aforementioned dramatic drop offs, airy perches and snaking scrambles. To your right and about 1000′ below you is the boulder field you recently ascended from. In many places it would only take one misstep to get right back down there.

Alpine trails up high on Pugh
Alpine trails up high on Pugh

On your other side is a narrow glacier occupying a fault which bisects the mountain. I’ve read that this is known as the Straight Creek fault, and thusly, without any other proper given name, the glacier by default could be called Straight Glacier. Sounds good to me. It’s interesting to note the distinct change in the rock type when you cross the fault where the knife ridge and Mt.Pugh meet.

She blinded me with science! SCIENCE!

Knife ridge
Knife ridge and Straight Glacier

Not far into the ridge you might see some heavy bolts jutting out from the rock, and if you investigate the area further you’ll discover the remains of the old tram winch that used to supply the fire lookouts on the summit (both long gone) The winch spool is still fully wound with cable. Enjoy the history and leave it how you found it.

Across the Fault
Across the Fault

You’ll continue along the ridge, up and over rock, across perilously narrow paths with hair-raising drop offs and finally to the moment when you are looking across the fault, face to face with Mt.Pugh’s steep rock face.

Even right in front of you, the path is still obscured and the rockface unclimbable. With no where else to go, you cross the fault and then a scramble path, blown into the rock many years ago, reveals itself.

Author descending the mountain
Author descending the mountain

The scramble itself is not difficult and feels a lot more protected than some of the stuff you experienced along the ridge.

You’ll now begin to hike again along steep airy meadows, the Sauk Valley thousands of feet below. There is one more scramble section ahead, across a slab that isn’t too wide, but is often covered with loose rock. Be careful.

Looking down at knife ridge

The rest of the way is very pleasant, (unless you are terrified of heights) switchbacking up the heather and jutting rock as you make your way to the summit, on a clear day drinking up the incredible views of the Mtn. Loop neighborhood and beyond.

When you finally reach the summit you will be greeted by Glacier Peak dominating the eastern horizon, Whitechuck to the north and Sloan Peak to the south. The entire 360° panorama is amazing and is sure not to disappoint!

Steep alpine meadows
Steep alpine meadows

The summit is pretty spacious, providing much opportunity for your own little private picnic. There would be places to sleep up here with a bivy sack, and could probably set up a tent on the old Fire lookout platform. Maybe I’ll try that next time


TRIP REPORT: Monte Pugh en Otoño

More pics: Klick Hier