Mushroom season has begun! We are about two weeks into the rainy season here in Northern California. I drove up to Montgomery Woods today to see if any mushrooms were growing. It took a little while to adjust my eyes to the mushroom hunt again. At first I couldn't see anything. It was like I needed to re-train my brain. Suddenly, the mushrooms began to reveal themselves, and my eyes were opened. Most of them were very very small. Above is a picture of a puff ball of some sort. I only saw two of them and they were growing right next to each other. At first, I didn't know what it was. I picked up one of them, and it completely detached itself from the ground. It actually didn't even appear to be attached in the first place. It was like a little piece of plastic. At first I thought it was an acorn or something. As soon as I touched what I thought was the acorn, the ball deflated and the spores blew in my face.
I had a sense of deja-vu when I walked to the main redwood grove. Once again, there was a couple hiking down, just as I was hiking up. The man said,
"Excuse me, is this all there is?"
Knowing exactly what must have happened, I asked the man and his wife,
"Did you enter the main grove, or did you stop at the top of the hill?"
The man answered, "We stopped at the top of the hill, there are no signs anywhere."
"You have to walk down the hill and enter the grove," I responded. "That is where the big trees are."
The couple were visiting from the Bay Area, and were originally from Russia. I walked with them to the top of the hill and told them a little about the woods and encouraged them to hike the loop. About a half an hour later, I heard someone call my name from the other side of the grove. Once again, it was the couple asking for directions. I decided to wait for them and walk with them the last half hour back to the parking lot. I was glad they were hiking the loop. Sometimes though, I forget just how overwhelming the redwood forest can appear to someone visiting for the first time. They were excellent hiking companions. I tried to answer whatever questions I could, and the man's wife, a music instructor, gave me some suggestions for some music to listen to. Hiking under the redwoods is fantastic, connecting with strangers on the trail is awesome too.
I am going to attempt to identify the following mushrooms. Please don't take my word for it, I am no expert by any means. Do your own research!
1.) Earth star
3.) Amanita Frostiana