Hello Friends! So here we are already in mid-January of 2022. I keep thinking we are going to settle down, but life has not been ‘quiet’ for some time. Despite our second year of a pandemic, we were a movin’ (literally) and a shakin’ this year. Mostly driving back and forth from Colorado to Wisconsin, with a little PNW thrown in the mix. We became road warriors and put some miles on the vehicles this year.
As you may have heard, Trent and I moved to the Wisconsin Northwoods (near Cable) from Colorado this past summer. Thankfully we left at the end of the summer as Colorado had its best mushrooming year on record since 2014 to my memory. Mother Nature was wily – heavy rains on top of a previous season of scorched wildfire scars created mudslides that would change the course of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. We were stuck for much of the summer with a major travel artery (I-70) out of commission on and off all season. We savored our special places at home and hunted porcini like never before. It was a bittersweet send off from the mountains we love so much. Wisconsin boletes, while greatly outnumbering CO in edible species, do not compare to the Colorado rubriceps (yes, I said it!). I convinced Trent we needed to stock up since we were moving far, far away. We should be set for a few years, no joke 🙂
Before I share an overview of 2021 foraging highlights, just a bit of news from us. Please join me in congratulating Trent on becoming the new President of The North American Mycological Association (NAMA)! This year’s NAMA Foray (one of my favorite yearly mushroom events) will be held at Trout Lake Lodge in Missouri, hope to see you there!
Also, Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide is going to a third printing and has been picked up by Tractor Supply chains. Thanks to all of you for your support in our journey as new authors! The book is currently out of stock almost everywhere. Luckily for you, we still have them in stock on our website if you’d like a signed copy.
Speaking of our website, we expanded our store this year to include our favorite foraging books, beeswax products from Plain Jane, Linden Sweden berry pickers & trays, and Hamilton’s Mushroom Extracts. We have assembled quite a library. We’ll also be introducing a new line of mushroom baskets and backpacks very soon! The baskets traveled halfway around the world to get to us, but after a crazy journey we finally have them in hand. We will send a quick shop update in the next week or so when they become available for sale.
Without further ado, here are our 2021 foraging highlights…
Turns out we were not the only ones in 2021 with moving on the brain. Denver was the busiest hub in the nation and movers were slammed. We ended up moving ourselves over 3 trips with a final go in the largest U-Haul truck you can rent. We survived but i’m not sure I would recommend this madness to anyone! It was truly exhausting, especially because it happened right in-between two busy seasons of mushroom events! According to my phone photos, we visited WI in May, June, July twice and then finally in August. The real estate market was crazy on both ends, we sold our Colorado home through the neighbor network before it was even listed with a Realtor. Wild! It was busy in the Northwoods too – everyone trying to find their slice of paradise and escape. We got lucky and found a 40 acre forested property with a large pond, a fen and a manufactured home. We bought the property site unseen and had a 10 day window to decide if we liked it or not – that was May, our first airline trip since the pandemic began. Over the next three trips we slowly moved our lives.
Trent spent much of the winter focused on cordyceps cultivation. He tried what seemed like a million combinations of strains, substrate recipes, lights and temperature ranges. It was an exhaustive process. In the end he came up with a pretty successful harvest and we enjoyed lots of mushroom hot cocoa. We also had a wonderful CO spring foraging asparagus, nettles and watercress at all of our favorite spots. I’m excited to add ramps to the mix in Wisconsin, but we will have to work hard at finding replacement spots for everything. Watercress pesto is an absolute favorite!
Colorado gave us a sweet send off with the best mushrooming season I can remember since 2014. It was warm and rainy, the perfect combo for fungal success. Porcini came on early (reports started mid to end of June) and just didn’t stop giving. It was perfection. The most beautiful specimens you’ve ever seen with almost zero larvae infestation. You really couldn’t have asked for better. There were so many porcini, we were tripping over them in the forest. Boletus barrowsii also made a nice showing which is pretty rare for our area. And there was a first time find – Polyozellus multiplex, blue chanterelles! So exciting to check something off the list.
We even had one day where we hit a grand slam – burn morels (Morchella tomentosa), porcini, chanterelles, and matsutake. A little of some and a lot of others but all went into our foraging bags that day. It was thrilling to say the least – a memory I won’t soon forget.
The North American Mycological Association just happened to be hosting their yearly foray in Granby, Colorado this year. It was the one CO event we chose to do in 2021 with our move in play (missed you Eagle and Telluride). NAMA is a wonderful group and we jumped in to help with the foray. Trent held a freeze-dried food demo highlighting matsutake, chanterelles and morels. Our friend and talented chef, Graham Steinruck, brought his A-Game and cooked up some tasty bites. Another mycofriend, Alan D’Sousa, put the icing on the cake with his liquid nitrogen road show and some fancy ass chanterelle ice cream discs. Unprecedented really. All was delicious and everyone really enjoyed the experience. Colorado delivered many mushrooms and folks were happy to take in the beautiful surroundings.
While drought conditions plagued the midwest, we still found enough mushrooms to keep us happy during our few trips. As it turns out, the Wisconsin Northwoods is a hotbed of fungal activity! With boxes not yet unpacked we immediately participated in two events – the Barronett Foray in Barronett, WI and the Northwoods Foray in Cable, WI.
Barronett was new this year, put on by Tavis Lynch and the Northwestern Wisconsin Myco Enthusiasts. We had Chad Hyatt, Alan Bergo and Sam Thayer all in one room – pretty special! The forays and demos were awesome, such a wonderful new event. This foray will be back in 2022 the second weekend of September.
The Northwoods Foray was held right here in Cable at Lakewoods Resort. Mush buds Elizabeth Bilodeau and Lisa Goodwin came to visit us and we had some fun times chasing mushrooms despite our moving exhaustion and the dry’ish’ conditions. I’ll be helping to organize this WMS foray the third weekend in September 2022, come on up and visit with us!
I attended the Mycelial Mysteries Women’s Mushroom Conference in Dodgeville, WI at the end of September. This area is well known as the “Driftless”, an area that experienced a lack of glacial drift. Driftless land features translate to lush, rolling hills – almost as if you have entered wine country with no vines. Fairly abnormal terrain for WI. This event provided a wonderful interface to reconnect with friends and get inspired to steward the flora and funga surrounding us.
September is the most beautiful month in Wisconsin, the mushrooms are here and the bugs are on the way out. Nearby Drummond, WI has one of the most stunning Forest Service Campgrounds I have ever been to – Two Lakes Campground. I promise there is a reason we are here – it’s a special place. Come on out and join in the fun!
Trent traveled to the Northern MN border to hunt matsutake with new AZ friends, Roy and Tracy Olson. They were so kind put up with our energetic doodles and introduce him to the Minnesota habitat! They hunted in planted Jack pine forests with sandy soil, with a good distance between the trees, and lots of needles on the ground. Seems it was a good year all around for matsutake as he came home with a cooler full and said they left many in the forest.
Coastal Oregon Bliss
Every year we visit our camper pad in Reedsport, Oregon in Oct/Nov. Despite our whirlwind landing in Wisconsin we couldn’t miss our annual fall trip to the coast. Myco friends, Jon and Amy Sommer from Colorado, joined us this year for 3 weeks. Our trek to OR was quite a bit longer this time. Leaving from WI translated into 3 very long driving days. As usual it was worth it! Coastal matsutake were nothing short of sensational last season, they flushed hard and fast and didn’t stop the entire time we were there. Mushrooms typically seen in the coastal rainforest however had other ideas – hedgehogs, chanterelles, and yellowfeet were elusive and more difficult to locate. Candy caps and coastal huckleberries on the other hand both offered stellar showings.
We also had much loved visits from a few other myco friends at the pad. Our friend Cheshire Mayersohn from Eugene gave us an awesome mushroom dyeing class. She took us on a foray and showed us the ropes while we looked for dyers. CO/CA buds Hamilton, Lucien and Fred also stopped by for a quick visit on their way to chase the cyan dream on the Oregon North Coast. The lovely Kate Teneyck brought the Hulk by on several occasions, Joseph Crawford and Jeem Peterson popped in for a few matsie hunts and we even caught Alan D’Sousa on his way back down to CA. We cherish these moments connecting with myco friends!
Planning Ahead in ’22
Trent has been hard at work on the morel burn maps, and as usual he is working on some cool new additions. Look for a release sometime in February. If you are on our email list you will be the first to know.
Speaking of burn morels, it looks like Montana may become the spring hunting trip this year, tbd! We are also planning to visit Colorado in season hitting the Telluride Fest, help with Wisconsin Forays, and of course heading back to Oregon for fall hunting. Hopefully SOMA CAMP will be back next year as well. Tough to miss our favorite event 2 years in a row!
Despite the weight of the world during the pandemic, we had many blessings in 2021. Spending time in nature is my favorite coping mechanism. Wishing you all full baskets and a fruitful hunt in 2022!