On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Good morning everyone,
Thanks TaMara for filling in Monday and Tuesday. What with my crazy life right now and missing my laptop while Dell fixes it again, I really appreciate it. Hopefully she’ll return with more pictures soon.
In early August, I bolted to Colorado to hunt mushrooms and have a few days to myself before life got very complicated (house hunting, buying, moving, getting a house fixed up and rented, etc.).
I had limited success. The whole drive there, I had dreams of coming back with 30 (dare I dream – 50!) pounds of good boletus edulis to cook, share, and dry. My haul was more like 4 pounds which was shared and eaten. This was due to my being about 10 days later than ideal and to the recent dry conditions on the mountain I was searching, so I had to break out my old-school “wildcatting” tactics which paid off.
It was a great day adventure, and I’m glad I went, even for just that experience. It had been 5 years since I’d wandered the mountains at 11,000 feet looking for delights, and I know that I will do what I can to be able to go next year, hopefully better-timed with the rains and peak opportunity. Life is short, and it’s just so much fun and a great way to plug into nature while hopefully having a “gold rush”. I was only gasping for air occasionally, and I know if it had been a good year, I would have had to take many rest breaks because of all the running around.
High altitude treasure hunt hint – bring a disposable oxygen can which is cheap satisfaction and relief from that burn of too-little oxygen. Also, do extra aerobic exercise for a few weeks before going to high altitude to optimize heart-lung state. And lose weight.
The boletus edulis, known as the King Bolete, Cepe, Steinpilz, or Porcini, is a large, delicious mushroom that grows in many forest areas in the US and Europe. To my experience and knowledge, they are found in the Rockies as far south as New Mexico, and up into Canada. I know that they are not as rare in moister areas and a friend has some land in Alaska that has them in abundance. They grow in cooperation with pine trees. They are tasty, large, and very fun to find.
On the day I went, I ran into a few people – a Polish lady looking for her husband (a common occurrence as you often separate to cover more territory when things aren’t lush) who spoke no English but was impressed with my haul and a nice couple from near Alamosa looking for mountain raspberries which were about two weeks out, they said. I explained what I was doing and delivered a brief intro to boletes and gave them a nice medium-sized specimen to take home and cook. They extolled the shaggy mane mushroom they collected near home, but I assured them that this was even better.
Ok, enough text, let’s go with some pictures. These are all from this year’s trip. I’ll share some more tomorrow and then older photos Friday.
The first find of the day and it was the biggest. One issue with large mushrooms is that they are targets for flies to lay eggs. So once you get bigger than this, they are much more out of the ground and bigger targets.
Let’s just say that I’m not Donald Trump and I’m not Dr J, so this is a large freaking mushroom. I didn’t weigh it individually, but when I first cut it, I expect it weighed 1.5 pounds. I kept them cool on the drive back East days later, but they did lose some moisture.
Another, older bolete. Notice the chipmunk nibbles. Chipmunks and squirrels are quite fond of them. I’ve been screamed out countless times by chippies for stealing their treasure, and I once saw a squirrel bound away with a small but perfect mushroom in its mouth, like a cartoon.
This mushroom was almost rotten and fell apart when I touched it. Not good eating!
This was the final haul of the day. That was some very, very good eating. Fresh boletes, sliced thick like a steak, sauteed in some butter with garlic and onion, salt and pepper, it’s close to perfection. Note the color of the top right mushroom – that is the ideal color. Once it’s seared into your soul, it’s hard to mistake other mushrooms for this one; I can see that color peeking out from leaves or other tree litter from farther away than you’d believe!
Have a great day everyone, we’ll re-convene on the morrow.