SOUTH FORK— As rumor has it, mushrooms are in top form this year due to the high levels of precipitation from snowpack in the area and mushroom hunters from around the globe are itching to get out and start collecting. South Fork’s Annual Mushroom Foray is just around the corner and is a great way for mushroom hunters of all abilities to get out into the San Juan Mountains to find some of the area’s most coveted fungal treasures.
For two full days beginning Aug. 16 the South Fork Visitor Center welcomes the Marvelous Mushroom Man Roger Dawson who does a brief presentation in the morning and then takes mushroom hunters out to some of his favorite spots to learn the fundamentals of collecting mushrooms. Dawson is an experienced mushroom hunter and knows the ins and outs of collecting some of the most delicious mushrooms around.
In the San Juan region, there are a few types of mushrooms that are highly sought after including the King Boletes, a large mushroom that has the taste and texture that has been compared to that of a juicy steak.
Another mushroom that grows in the area and is a mushroom hunter’s top prize is the Chanterelle. This tasty mushroom is also known as the mushroom of summer. This succulent mushroom usually grows in highly vegetated areas of the forests. The Californian breed of this mushroom can grow to be two to three times the size of the Rocky Mountain species.
It is very important that collectors know their species extremely well. Mushrooms can prove to be tricky little toadstools when it comes to identifying harmful or poisonous species. Picking the wrong one and consuming it can result in severe sickness or even death. Carrying a mushroom field guide can prove to be beneficial for beginners collecting in the area. For further assistance, speak with Forest Service officials and when in doubt, don’t consume the fungus.
It is also important not to over pick in the same location in order for the fungi to survive. Many species of wildlife also depend on the elusive mushroom, which should be taken into consideration while out collecting. Picking mushrooms without hurting the smaller spores is the desired way to collect any type of mushroom. Dawson shows specific types of techniques in order to accomplish safe collecting during the class and in the future.
Registration for the seminar and hike is limited to about 25 people per day and advanced registration is required. There is a $20 registration fee and interested parties can also purchase a mushroom identification book, if they choose from the visitor center. Handouts and recipes will be given to participants as part of the seminar.
Participants will also need to bring a pen and paper, knife or trowel, paper or mesh bag for collected mushrooms, sack lunch for the picnic and water. Visit the South Fork Visitors Center for more information or to sign up for the class. Space is limited and fills up quickly. For more information, dates and times for the 2019 Mushroom Foray, please visit www.southfork.org.