Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"A" joins me today for another stiff hike.  We've not met before, but as most everyone I've run into at the farm, we will get along just fine...I don't worry about such things.  As we ride up I find that "A" also knows plants and mushrooms much better than myself.  I tend to learn such facts only when I need them...he comes prepared.

The day is overcast and a few degrees warmer than it was two days back. 
Frost is absent from the trees and brush as we walk out to the squatter's cabin. 
A flicker greets us from the barn. 

We're going to walk the same hill that I walked on Monday, but instead of climbing straight to the top, we will go up about halfway and walk across the slope until we are over the north fields.  There is no other way to get a feel for the lay of the land other than to travel it, particularly here in the northwest under the dense tree canopy.  No map, no aerial photograph will show what we will find. 

After a short steep start, we get into the salal and fern level and begin picking up deer trails that run cross slope.  It's easier walking than on Monday, mostly because we aren't going straight uphill.  "A" starts spotting mushrooms and I start watching for them also - since I have someone that can tell me what they are.

barrel mushrooms
something in the oyster mushroom family

There's some variety to the hillside as we walk.  The large trees are mostly Douglas Firs, there are a few stumps, and some alders, of course.  The ground is steep, but it eases up in places.  The understory can be salal and fern, or just waist deep fern, or fern and Oregon grape.  It is, however, a full trip with a diverse variety of lichen and fungi...more than we can take in on a single walk.  As we near a ravine that forms the edge of the clear cut above the north fields, we find ourselves in a stand of dead alders, a stand that has more fresh woodpecker activity than I have ever seen in one place.  There are chips on the ground and holes in everything.  Some, the rectangular holes, are recognized as pileated woodpecker signs, but other have been here as well.  It may be worth returning to just to sit and see what shows up some day.

lichen, but I can't find my copy of Pojar & McKinnon
I have identified this as the crazy looking orange stuff - don't eat it.

We get into the edge of the clear cut, but it is often choked with blackberry vines.  So we retreat back to the deep ravine deciding that clambering over logs is better than crawling through thorny vines.  As we're dropping down in, we find a very cool fungus.

log is about 4 inches across - click on this for a bigger view - it's cool.

White rooty tendrils cover most of the wood, but notice that the tendrils radiate out from small holes.  I'm not sure what made the holes, but perhaps this is an insect/fungus dependency.

At the bottom of the hill we find the remnants of a logging road and a couple very fine cedar nurse stumps. 
It was an outstanding trip.

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