Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forest Forays - Mushroom Walks on the Wild Side

Take a walk on the wild side—of edible mushrooms. The Colorado Mycological Society, the Front Range’s fungus fan club, holds woodland forays in search of some of nature’s most delightful delicacies.

Colorado’s mushroom season is short, peaking from mid-July through August, yet seekers can encounter apricot-scented chanterelles or nutty-flavored porcinis. Mushrooms typically thrive in moist, warm conditions, so hunting them in Colorado’s climate is not the most predictable hobby. However, after a stretch of rain during the monsoon days of summer, you are bound to hit fungus gold.

Weather permitting, CMS conducts forays on Saturdays or Sundays during mushroom season from around 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Outings are free for CMS members and cost $5 for nonmembers. “We are educating people on how to be naturalists and how to be observers and identify mushrooms,” says former CMS president Marc Donsky.

Although the forays have been going on for more than 35 years, there is still quite a bit of secrecy involved in the missions, Donsky says. “People are very jealous about mushroom sites. We don’t post them on our website because people end up poaching the mushrooms.” For this reason, fungus aficionados meet at a specified location and are then led up through the mountains to a prime spot, or occasionally on an urban foray in or around Boulder.
This year, the annual CMS Mushroom Fair is replaced by the North American Mycological Association’s 50th-anniversary celebration at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby, Aug. 12-15 (open only to members of CMS or NAMA).

On the second Monday of each month, CMS offers open-to-the-public meetings with a variety of expert speakers. A special foray event will be held August 21, led by Gary Lincoff, author of numerous books including the Audubon Field Guide to Fungi and the new book ‘The Complete Mushroom Hunter". ALL ARE WELCOME ON THIS FORAY, you don’t have to be a CMS member to attend. Attendees will meet at 9am at the East parking lot (Stegosaurus) at Exit 259 (I–70/Morrison) and go up to the mountains--most likely no more than an hours drive. Consult the Colorado Mycological Society web page for things you should bring (sunscreen, pack lunch, etc.). Forayers will meet back in town in the late afternoon for a picnic with Gary Lincoff to cook up some tasty finds (Boletus? Chanterelles? Hawk’s Wings?). The cost for the foray is $10.

To keep track of foray dates—never set in stone—check the website,, and then have fun stalking the wild mushroom.

—Rebecca Schneider and Carolyn Oakley. Photos by Vera Evenson

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