Morel Hunting

Last weekend me and my father went morel hunting!

It being our first time we went with a group, led by a charismatic 30-something wielding a wooden staff with a carved morel at the top. We all met up at a trailhead in the Sly Park area, and then continued up the road to one of the spots our fearless leader had picked out.

He told us to look for a few things

When we arrived at our first location, he pointed out a few areas of interest, and then had us scatter and begin looking. It took about 20 minutes until they found the first one, and everyone was called up to see it. The leader was sure to stand next to it, but not point directly to it, in order for us to see how difficult it is to spot them. Sure enough it was just a little bump in the ground that took a few seconds to find, even when you were staring right at it. We searched for another 45 minutes in the area and were on our way back to the cars when someone in the group found another couple, though they were the only ones.

We took a little break for lunch, which I regretfully didn't bring, but it gave the leader a chance to show off the fungi to look out for.

This is the violet cup that he said often grow right next to morels.

I forget the name he called this one, but he said they are an indicator that you are in the right general area, but to look under a different tree.

Then we set off for our second location. Almost immediately someone found a small grouping as we made our way down the steep hillside. For the first hour or so me and my father didn't find anything, just zig-zagging back and forth. This area was a lot more in line with what he described than the first. As we made our way down we could hear little excited yelps of "Found one", which kept us motivated. Eventually we came across a little section that looked ripe and away from the other spots the rest of the group had already trodden through. I saw a little bundle of young firs, and just had a strong feeling deep in my gut I'd find something there. Sure enough as I pushed away a small branch I looked down and right there before me was my first find of the day.

It was a small grouping of two, but it threw gas on the fire that was our hunt. We combed through the area, finding one every five minutes or so. Eventually we reached the end of the little section of woods and decided we were happy with our little haul of five beautiful morels. We made the trek back up the hill, back through the little patch hoping we missed one, though to no avail. We were both pretty tired and hungry, and decided to call it a day, though the rest of the group headed to another final location.

This was really a wonderful experience and I'm excited to do it more often, though it is almost the end of the season this year. I love being outdoors, but having a purpose behind it makes it all the better. I remember in a talk or podcast episode, the bigfooter Cliff Barackman saying something along the lines of, "Even if you don't find anything, bigfooting gives you a purpose for being outside". While morels are a lot easier to find than elusive apes, it's a similar rush, an eagerness to explore with purpose.

I can't wait to go out again!

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