Well friends, the lack of camera certainly was a stinger this weekend. Your lucky I don't think a picture is worth a thousand words, cause there should be about 10 of em going up now and being that there isn't it would take a lotta words to make up for it. So I'll try to keep it within reason.
We pulled into Camp Sherman at about 3 on Saturday afternoon. The campgrounds on the Metolius had a few people in them, but weren't terrible. Still, privacy was not an option along the river. We got to lower bridge, where I wanted to camp, and Kari decided she didn't want any part of 7 AM generators and relatively constant camp company. So we just kept driving, took some backroads to forest hwy 12 and found ourselves a super nice, free and completely empty camp along a nice little creek. We parked and decided to stroll around, look for shrooms and pick out the best site for camp. We were about 20 minutes into our mini-foray when Kari found a morel, a nice natural apparently associated with some young Grand Fir. There were a few nice freshies and some blown out, dried out oldies. I was surprised to see naturals as low as we were and was actually looking for King Boletes when she found that first morel. We foraged for about 2 hours that evening and came back to camp with about a dozen nice morels and 8 nice boletes, even though there was obvious sign that the commercial pickers had been through for the boletes already. That reminds me now of how fucking annoying it was to know that we were playing clean-up the scraps behind the commercials all weekend, everywhere we went. I can't wait to, hopefully, someday find an untouched area for boletes and burn morels, I think it would be quite epic....though I should quit whining, now.
The following day we started with a another mini-foray near camp, got a couple more naturals and one or two boletes. We also flushed a ruffed grouse, the first I have seen in the cascades. It was about 20 feet away in somewhat dense young fir. I had forgot how much I thoroughly enjoy that split second of surprise, with a twist of adrenaline for good measure, that you get when a ruffed flushes...I kinda wished I had a gun because I instantly thought of grouse and morels on the camp stove, but that would be plain old overindulgence. Maybe he could have at least flew into a tree and killed himself, then I couldn't very well just let it rot? Overindulgence would certainly be trumped by resourcefullness and minimization of waste...no?
We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the GW burn, once again playing clean up behind the commercials, but the beauty of the burns are that the commercials can pick and pick to their hearts content and barely put a nick in the morel population. In about 5 or 6 hours the two of us pulled 7 pounds, while finding only three or four individual trees that didn't already have footprints surrounding it - to see the little spots like that, that hadn't been touched, was astounding. Even the areas where they had obviously picked yielded a few beauties right next to bootprints. We tried as best we could to maintain self control and take only the large morels but we definitely took a few minis, it was hard not to do. Imagine stepping around a tree and seeing 20 or 30 morels, all of them too small to harvest, and in the mix there are nice cut stems from the commercials. Do it around about 5-10 trees without finding a harvestable morel and like I said, it's tough not to cut at least one, a morel you would have definitely left had it been standing next to a three incher, but at the same time needed to quell the frustration and boost the moral (cheap pun intended). A unique (to me) observation in the burn was finding them around hardwoods. We were in a pretty boggy area near the head of a small stream and there were what appeared to be big cottonwoods. I had no idea cottonwoods grew that high and am still weary of saying that is definitively what they were, but I spent a lot of time earlier this spring staring at cottonwoods and am pretty certain that is what they were...anyways, there were loads of morels along the root lines. We were balance beaming it along down trees to save us from sinking knee deep in dirty ass fire mud. At the base of the standing trees you could walk around them on the root system, then jump on another down tree and follow the maze to the next standing tree. This yielded A LOT of shrooms and it was pretty fun, except for this one time, I reached what appeared to be a dead end to the balance beam maze and had already come over some really dicey shit that I didn't want to do-over. As I was standing on a down log, part of it buckled and I just about dumped my whole bag (this was at the end of the day, on the way out) of morels in the mud. I got lucky and somehow managed to keep the bag inhand, the morels in the bag and my balance all at once...a disaster very narrowly avoided.
I needed a damn beer after the day in the burn so we made a quick stop in Sisters on our way out and went back to camp. Why we didn't have the beer in camp already is another story. We have been changing our ways lately with regards to camp food. It used to be brats, brats, brats and maybe a hobo dinner (taters and hamburger wrapped in foil, for you out of the loopers). This weekends vittles included....night one: one fresh bolete sauteed in butter for an appetizer, then shell noodles with leek, the first days morels, garlic and alfredo for the main course. day two: breakfast was a big egg scramble with a ton of veggies, lunch was veggie wraps with hummus, dinner was vegetable red curry over jasmine rice, thai style. day three: b-fast was avocado and egg sandwhiches on filone, and lunch was more super duper veg wraps with the previous nights curry sauce. Those of you who know me from my previous life will wonder what the alien has done with Thomas. This is a new leaf and I must say I like it.
Well that pretty much wraps it up. The third day of picking was pretty uneventful, aside from the huge string of relatively non stop expletives once we learned what the flagging tape meant. It was sign left by the commercial pickers so their crews wouldn't hit the same spot twice. EVERYWHERE we went for boletes was flagged, and I got pissed, then I got home and looked in the bags of shrooms we had and realized what a choad I was being. I certainly don't think I own the forest anymore than they do, or at least not by any rationale I am ready to delve into on here, and realize that they are trying to make a living picking mushrooms while I am getting some to eat and share with friends and family. Lets just hope that we're not ruining something else by overdoing it. Maybe the science will actually get done at some point in the near future and they can regulate the industry prior to any major eco-impact. But thats likely nothing but a bunch of hope. And what is hope, but a mind-made concept, anyways? (<--- i told you i would get existential on your asses!)
fyi - 1307 words, only about 1 and 1/3 pictures worth, thank me for that fools!!!!!