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The Great Hunt

I went out for the 9 AM PSMS mushroom hunt at Newcastle Beach Park yesterday, and I came away impressed with the organization. I've been on dozens of mushroom hunts before, mostly family gatherings focussed on foraging for a meal. This one was a little different, more like a Sierra Club outing, with everyone meeting up, then heading out to a trailhead.


We hit the Coal Creek Park trailhead, part of a large and beautiful park on the Eastside in Bellevue. Turns out that Shelly has a great eye for mushrooms, as she found at least three times as many as I. I'd forgotten that, much as I enjoy mushrooming, I'm really not that good at it.

Most of the crowd was immigrants and middle-aged adults, with the notable exception of mushroom savant Joshua. It was fun to watch a 13 year old kid with braces spouting Latin and identifying 95% of what was placed in front of him. Bit of mushroom geek, really.

We hunted and chatted with Pranhitha, a biochemist Indian woman who is taking the PSMS's identification class and was looking for as wide a range of specimens as possible. I think she walked away with about 20 or so.

We also met Ingo, a German immigrant, his wife Pamela, and their two boys. The only edibles we found were oyster mushrooms (not my favorites), but we found lots of other exotic species, from the tiny Mycenae to the poisonous Amanita.

Next time, though, we try a part of cougar Mountain where there are conifers, and thus more like to have chanterelles, matsutake, and the other better edibles. But even when you walk away with just a few ornamental species, at the very least you've had a pleasant stroll in the sun-dappled woods. A great fall day.

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