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Tag Archives: morel mushrooms

Last week the girls and I stopped at a location down valley to scout for possible morel hunting grounds. We had limited success but a pleasant walk.

In other parts of the word, natural disasters take shape as tornadoes or hurricanes, floods or drought, earthquakes and other natural phenomenon. Here in the inland western part of this country, we worry about fire. Last year, in September, central Washington was especially hard hit. For most of the month smoke blanketed the valleys while in the mountains trees burned and wildlife tried to survive. Historically, fire was common in these forests and in many cases not nearly as destructive as it has become. This is due to generations of fire suppression. To those unfamiliar with this, it may seem counter intuitive. Now forest managers try to use controlled burns to prevent massive wildfires. By burning underbrush, the progress of a future fire will be slowed and less destructive.

Many of last year’s fires were caused by lightning. Several of them between Wenatchee and Ellensburg burned together and consumed over 100,000 acres. Ken and I used to spend time in that area and we got a chance to explore it a bit last Sunday.


This area did not burn too hot. Some trees will survive


Nothing survived here. Not a bit of green to be seen anywhere. It burned very hot.




But in that blackened landscape, the magical morel mushroom grows.


And in a draw, a small creek emerges from the ground


This area will one day be a gorgeous meadow, home to lots of animals and wildflowers.


We saw elk tracks through here


Rainier beer. An original regional brewery.




Another tiny creek brings green to the burned forest


And then, just across the draw are living trees.


I found these grave markers. Who were the Sandhop’s and why were they buried up in the mountains?



This old picnic table might date back to the CCC era early in the last century


Ken and Luna rest before we make the long trek back home.


Our basket of morels – enough for a couple of meals.


Around here the biggest disaster the people worry about is wildfire. Last year we had more than our share of fires in North Central Washington and many folks were trapped in their houses for days in hopes of avoiding the choking smoke. I am reminded of this now with the US Forest Service doing controlled burning in hopes of preventing uncontrolled fires in the future. The smell is strong in the air and I can see the smoke’s haze all over the valley.

One gift of fire is the morel mushroom. The fire morel is a delicacy that is hunted with great zeal in a burned landscape. My uncle came to visit this week in hopes of getting the mushroom season off to a good start. He had studied last year’s fires’ locations and aspects and picked one area to explore. He was right. With the little bit warmer weather we are finally getting, the fungi are just starting to show themselves and we both came home with about a gallon of them. He said the ones we harvested are most likely natural morels and that the fire morels will come on a bit later. On our menu last night was morel risotto! What a treat.



The landscape looks very bleak.




I heard and saw Black-backed Woodpeckers who come into a burned forest almost immediately to consume the insects that have arrived to consume the dead trees.




Many of the morels were growing out from under rocks and burned roots. This is a nice looking one.




I also heard Canyon Wrens’ beautiful songs from the cliffs above.



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