I found this stem sticking out of the ground, the cap of the mushroom had been neatly cut off with a knife. I decided to continue up the mountainside wondering, "How high will a mushroom hunter climb?" It turned out to be much higher than I hoped. It wasn't until I almost reached the ridge line that mushrooms began to appear in abundance.
I think these are one of the more sought after mushrooms this time of year. They are called black trumpets. I will have to cook some up one of these days. They sound delicious!
There were several other interesting colors growing on the forest floor.
When I reached the ridge line, I hiked to the east for about 15 minutes. All of a sudden, I caught sight of an enormous salamander lying under a bush. (below)
It was probably at least 12 inches long, and my hand probably would have barely been able to wrap around it. I took several photos of it while he lay amongst the leaves. The only part of his body that moved was the skin under his chin, moving up and down like a frog. It was one of the more fascinating creatures I've seen on a hike in a long time.