This probably will the last of the 2006 mushrooming posts. M. and I went back to our favorite patch of the boreal forest, at about 10,800 feet, on Friday. Mushroom-hunters who belong to clubs are apparently require to call such a trip a "foray," or everyone looks at them funny.
Similarly, god forbid you use the phrase "field trial" at a Hunting Retriever Association event, unless you are engaged in snidely putting down American Kennel Club events. Petty language rules are one reason that I don't seem to do well in clubs.
In the woods, exempt from language rules, we found a few king boletes, although some of the largest were past their picking peak. Likewise, the hawk's wing (Sarcodon imbricatus) were turning dark, and their caps were often covered with green mold.
The big crop--a new one for us--was Albatrellus confluens, which looks something like boletes (spore tubes instead of gills) but is classified as a polypore. It does not seem to have a common name--although, I suppose, if we belonged to a club, we might hear one. Anyway, big fleshy mushrooms and lots of them.
We keyed it, it looked OK, so we brought a couple of sacks-full home and checked it in other sources. Heartened, we started the process of cleaning, slicing, and loading up the dehydrator.
Interestingly, my Google image search turned up mostly European site: the image here came from the wonderfully named www.svampefestival.dk.
Along with his mushroom guides, I inherited Dad's ulu, the crescent-shaped Eskimo knife, a souvenir of one of his Alaska trips. He did not use it much. But it makes a good mushroom-cleaning knife--the points work for scraping the caps, and the whole length of the blade slides the mushroom thin for drying. Mushrooms do not feature much in Inuit cuisine, so this was just a fortuitous discovery.
The down side is that using it makes me think of him as a young ranger loading his saddle bags with boletes in a different boreal forest, the Del Norte Ranger District of the Rio Grande National Forest, and I start to missing him.