Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mushroom Mystery Solved! The Bleeding Tooth

Back in this post I talked about my section hike on the PCT and how I saw the "blood" oozing mushroom you see above. I had never seen anything like it and thought it was some sort of amanita. Turns out its called the "Bleeding Tooth" and is the species Hydnellum Peckii. See here for some more information. The "tooth" part of the name apparently comes from the underside of the mushroom looking like teeth. I was afraid to touch it so I never saw what the underside looked like. My fears were displaced however, as it is listed as not poisonous---but you wouldn't want to eat it because apparently it tastes terrible (which means someone did sample it at some point, ha ha). I feel fortunate to have come across this interesting fungus. Here are some more that I saw on my trip (and I have no idea what types they are, so they are not identified):

a green mushroom!

a heart-shaped mushroom, yay!
someone (a chipmunk, I'll bet) has been nibbling this one.

Fabulous mushrooms are another reason why I adore the fall season :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mushrooms and Hobbits in the Mountains

I just came back from a spectacular 4 day, 3 night trip into the wilderness. Every year we hike some section of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and have been doing so for years. This year was spent in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. As you can see above, I am basically dressed like a hobbit :) The coat was one I picked up at a thrift store a couple of years ago. Made of a lightweight fleece, with a generous hood,  its perfect for cold nights and mornings on the mountain and makes a great cover-up after a skinny dip in a mountain lake :)
The stick I am holding is the actual stick I use to hike with. No fancy polycarbonate trekking poles for me. My yew wood stick works just fine (and goes better with my coat, ha ha!).

We saw an astonishing array of mushrooms in the forest on this trip, more than ever before:

 This one was especially dramatic and I have never seen anything like it. I felt like if I got too close to it I might fall asleep for a hundred years and wake up with these things growing out of my ears! An amanita perhaps? UPDATE---this mushroom is called a "bleeding tooth" and is not an amanita. See my next post :)

Here is the mountain herself,. in all of her glory:

We hiked up to that first large ice field.  It was a strange sensation to be standing on an ice field while burning up from the heat of the day.  Diamond Peak is a shield volcano with a high level of erosion. This erosion gives the mountain its jagged profile. It is also littered with boulders which makes climbing difficult. Definitely gives the old legs a good workout.

Here is what I call "mountain steam" that rises over the peaks when the sun is going down. Beautiful, no?

 Here is another thrift store find I took on the hike---an Australian Kakadu Traders "soaka" hat. You do just as the name implies, soak the hat in water, and it gives a measure of cooling relief while outside in the heat.

This is what I sleep on----->

I spent years hiking with an expensive Thermarest sleeping pad that I never really liked---I would always slip off of it and it always seemed cold at night.. Finally, I bought a hard foam pad for 9 dollars and then topped it with one of those softer egg-crate foam pads that are used on mattresses, which I cut down to size---waaalaaa, relative comfort for about 14.00 as opposed to the 60.00 I paid for the Thermarest. And, its far more lightweight! The lesson I learned from that is this: the big outdoors companies will try to convince you that you need all of this high tech expensive gear. But really, you can often make do with less expensive options. Another example: my husband had a fancy internal frame backpack that hurt him for years. Finally he got a second-hand 70s external frame backpack and it works just fine (although most packs are going to hurt to some extent). My own trekking pack was purchased second hand off Craigslist. Its an internal frame pack but I removed the stays and it works just fine as well. Don't get sucked into the hype of having to have all-new fancy gear all of the time. There are some things you will want to spend the money on---a good water filter is an example. But don't feel the need to be tricked out in all the latest "performance" gear. In addition to my second hand hobbit coat, I also picked up a silk button down shirt at the thrift for 4 dollars and I hike during the day in that. I found that the fancy performance fabric shirts that cost upwards of 50.00 aren't as comfortable, plus they retain odors more. So be smart, but critical, when shopping for outdoor clothing and gear. 

Happy Trails!