Adventures in Powell River: Thar be mushrooms in them thar woods (but don’t tell anyone where)
I have my gumboots on again.
It must mean there’s another adventure afoot. (I’m not a huge fan of puns but that one practically typed itself out on the page.)
This time we’re going mushroom picking. Temporary mushroom buyer stations sprout up in Powell River every fall. Chanterelles and pine mushrooms are among those highly sought after and if you know where to look and the conditions are right, they can be quite plentiful.
The thing is, mushroom harvesters can be a secretive lot. They have their favourite spots and sometimes are reluctant to reveal where they like to harvest. So when Bob and I planned to go out with two experienced mushroom pickers, I half expected to be blindfolded until we reached our destination. Not to worry though, as the pickers in question were our friends André and Chris and they’d never do that. I don’t think.
We travelled a bit by boat and then landed upon a pebbly shore littered with oyster shells in Okeover Inlet. Chris cautioned there may not be a lot of chanterelles as they tend to appear a few days after rain. There’d been heavy rains preceding our outing but just by a day. On this Friday, the skies were clear and the sun warm. The trees, especially the maples, were turning.
I was grateful for Chris and André’s guidance, as determining the difference between similar-looking poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms can be tricky, with the consequences ranging from unpleasant to deadly. Our quarry though, were chanterelles and they are rather easy to identify with their typically burnt-yellow colouring, thick-ish stems, and frilly caps. In some ways, they remind me of calla lilies.
When searching for chanterelles, it’s important to watch your step as they like to hide in damp, mossy areas, sometimes underneath other plants in stands of Douglas fir.
Our chanterelle quest led us through dense, chest-high vegetation,
clearings guarded by menacing trees,
over boulders the size of a cabins,
and actual cabins, long-forgotten and surrendered to the forest.
And then finally, a cluster of chanterelles that would make our journey worthwhile.
Mushrooms harvested, it was time to return whence we came before the light faded and the day cooled.
We followed the shoreline to where the boat lay anchored, and then motored our way back, imagining the chanterelle-infused feasts ahead and smiling at a day well-spent.
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