Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Glorious Day in the Mountains

    I took advantage of my day off on Monday to drive up into the mountains to find a nice place to sight in my rifle before deer season. I invited Linda to come along and we had a very nice day together.  First of all the weather was beautiful, the leaves of the Big Leaf Maples in the mountains are turning yellow, and the temperature was comfortably balmy.  The drive up to Tonga ridge was absolutely beautiful.  I found a nice quiet place off the road part way up the ridge that gave me an adequate distance with a good backstop for sighting in the rifle.  We actually stopped about 100 yards past the famous "Mother of All Huckleberry Patches" that I discovered with my mother almost twenty years ago, a good story that I will save for another time.  Sighting in the rifle went quickly. We then decided to drive further up the ridge to see if there were any huckleberries left.

     We drove another mile or two up the gravel road until the terrain leveled out some.  We parked alongside the road and explored one of the numerous old logging roads that crisscross that part of Tonga Ridge.  The bad news was that there was no sign of any huckleberries.  I suspect that it had been a bad year for the berries due to the extremely dry summer. October is rather late to be looking for berries anyhow.  We did notice a few mushrooms. There were some Panther Amanitas as well as some Amanita Muscaras. Both of them are very pretty, but poisonous.  We also found a few Russulas and various other types, but nothing to get my mouth watering.  Linda paid me a huge compliment when she told me that I was about the only person she would trust to tell her that a mushroom was edible. We decided to give up on the mushrooms and drive further up the ridge to find a place with a good view.  As I was waiting for Linda at the truck, I heard her call out my name.  She had stepped a little bit off the logging road and had stumbled upon a mushroom she thought looked interesting.  As it turns out it was a Boletus Edulis, known in English as the King Bolete, and mushroom that is not only edible, but described as choice and delectable.  As we explored the immediate vicinity we discovered a large number of the King Boletes and picked enough to fill our small ice chest.
Boletus Edulus or King Bolete

   Further up the ridge, near the trailhead, we found a place with a better view, suitable for a nice selfie of the two of us.  The views from the road are not as expansive as they used to be. I hadn't gone up to Tonga  Ridge in about ten years. During that time the trees have grown considerably taller.  After the photo op we drove back down the mountain, heading for home.  We stopped at Zeke's Drive-in on our way home for a celebratory ice cream cone and blackberry milk shake. We arrive home in time for me to watch the last three quarters of the Seahawks vs Detroit on Monday Night Football.
Me with my favorite mushroom hunting buddy

    I spent most of the evening cleaning and preparing the boletus for drying or cooking. The boletus dry very easily and can also be easily reconstituted. the dried mushrooms can also be powdered in the blender and used to flavor soups and sauces. The mushroom powder can even be used to make mushroom flavored pasta. The King Bolete is the only mushroom whose name I know in five languages. They are called Porcini in Italian, Cepes in French, Baravik in Russian, and Steinpilz in German.

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