Remember us? I know, I know – it’s been ages. You may have heard that Trent and I moved to the Northwoods of Wisconsin recently. After a busy transition, we are finally a bit more settled here in Cable. It’s been quite a year! Moving just plain sucks.
I’m feeling chatty so settle in, I think this post may turn into Grandma’s Christmas epistle 🙂 Miss you Gram.
So Long Colorado
Colorado provided us with a wonderful send off – we had the best mushroom season to memory since 2014! While things started off quite dry, seasonal monsoons showed up in mid July. For those of us in Glenwood Springs, the crazy storms were a blessing and a curse. The 2020 Grizzly Creek fire left our rocky canyon walls unstable and the rains wreaked havoc! Glenwood Canyon is home to the most expensive (and beautiful) stretch of Interstate 70 in Colorado. Heavy rains led to massive mudslides and the interstate closed for 12 days. The mudslides were so massive, they even changed the course of the Colorado River in this stretch forever. Nature sure is a wild and wonderful beast.
Suffice it to say, when it rains in Colorado, we are often rewarded with an incredible mushroom season. Luck blessed us this year. Combined with early warm nights, boletes started popping 3 weeks early all over the state and didn’t stop by some reports until well into September. It was E-P-I-C! Even better – no fly larvae all season, almost zero. Porcini (Boletus rubriceps) in Colorado truly are the best, and this year there were so many we tripped over them in the forest. We were also rewarded with Boletus barrowsii, chanterelles and matsutake. As for the fire morels, they started slow in May and June due to dry weather. Yet like the rest of Colorado, morels responded to the summer monsoons and fruited at high elevation later in the season. Reportedly morels continued well into September. It was a special year.
We will miss chanty town and mushroomtopia – those mountain meadows and swampy high elevation forests we have trekked for years! It will be sweet to visit, often.
By the way… do you name your mushroom hunting spots? Let’s hear them…
I can’t tell you how many weird looks we have received when we tell people we moved from CO to WI. Everyone just says why? Well here it is, the number one reason… climate change. Take it or leave it, but we’ve seen the entire West changing rapidly. So many of the forests we love have fallen to fire all over the Western states. Water resources are becoming scarce, many challenges are yet to come.
We wanted trees and water and affordable land, a place to build a homestead. Both Trent and I grew up in the Midwest. Granted it’s been a LONG time for us both but at least we are not strangers to the potential negatives here: bugs, gray skies and snow 🙂 There are always tradeoffs, but I can tell you there is so much to love about the Northwoods! Our new home is surrounded by acres upon acres of protected land in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Pines and hemlocks 100s of years old encircle us and diverse hardwood forests color the landscape. The Namekagon and Brule Rivers wind through, while lakeshores are seemingly endless. This area also offers more fungal diversity than anywhere else in the country – it’s true! It is peaceful and truly magical.
And, oh! We live on a fen – how about that. Google it 😉 Adult bog walks in bare feet are now a thing.
All said, we have so much to learn about the mushrooms dotting our new landscape. For example, we traded a few edible bolete species for more than 10. None of course as delicious as Colorado’s Boletus rubriceps, but all worthy of exploration and study. Lactarius, Russula, Suillus, Ischnoderma and so many others have entered the edible scene. Have you ever seen a Gyroporus cyanescens? Neato, blue staining AND delicious! Chickens, hens, trumpets, entoloma, hericium, oysters, matsutake, chanterelles, yellowfeet – the list is endless!
Trent recently took a trip to the MN/CAN border to hunt matsutake. I can tell you they are here, and they are just about as good as in the PNW. We are stoked! A big shoutout to our new AZ Myco friends, Roy and Traci Olson, for introducing us to the habitat!
We’ve also made some new friends at the Wisconsin Mycological Society and attended plenty of forays this fall. It’s an active and incredibly knowledgeable mushroom crew up in these parts! We’re excited to join the group and share the journey.
Trent is going to be busy again this winter mapping 2021 fires, the data is unfortunately endless. He is working on some new tricks so burn morel maps should be as exciting as ever in 2022. We can only hope the Forest Service closures are manageable. We’re forging a few new partnerships and bringing some seriously cool new products to market yet this year. I hope to have everything ready before Christmas, very excited – more on that coming soon!
This Fall we are doing some mushroom cultivation – inoculating a few oak, maple and poplar logs on our property with shiitake, hericium, oysters, turkey tail, maitake and chicken of the woods. Look for us to swing through the PNW in November too, we love our time in Oregon!
We had a great time at the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) foray in Granby, Colorado this year. Next up on our event schedule is SOMA Camp (Sonoma County Mycological Association) – one of my favorite events! If you’ve never been, this could be your year – registration opens soon. Keep a keen eye on their website, this event sells out very quickly. A little birdie told me that registration opens 10/15 but I have not verified.
We continue to get wonderful reviews for our book, Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide. If you don’t yet have a signed copy, you can grab one in our shop. We also made a chaga recipe contribution to the Fantastic Fungi Community Cookbook, add this one to your Christmas list right now. It’s going to be stunning.
We’ll be looking forward to some ice fishing and cross country skiing on the Birkie trail this winter. Benzie and Lulu can’t wait for piles and piles and piles of snow 🙂 Lu had ACL surgery this spring and is finally back to her prancy doodle self. Next year we are planning to add some sugar to the mix with maple syrup production and a hive or two of honey bees. We are staying busy as always.
What are you looking forward to on your foraging schedule this fall?
Enjoy the pics, we’ve been saving them up all year for you. Up next Oregon’s coastal dunes and rainforests. See you out there!