Why take the easy way out of town when you can add hours of driving to the trip?
Because the recent rain had promised the prospect of mushrooms, that’s why.
So, for that reason instead of taking I-90 out of Seattle for the last time, I southeast, caravanning toward Mt. Rainier National Park with my best friend and long time foraging partner, Jim, and his lab/German shorthaired pointer, Loreto.
Rain may have come of late, but a first stop in the National Forest lands before the National Park yielded nothing but dry earth and trash along the river by some meth head or derelict.
Not willing to give up, we worked our way into the National Park and up to Sunrise, and to a dismal sight. Everywhere we looked the mountain was golden brown, and in the distance you could see the glacier receding. The year’s drought has clearly hit Rainier hard.
Without a porcini in hand, we hit the road again and headed down 123. Here, at least, the mountain grounds had seen a little moisture. After foraging for a couple of hours we came up, finally, with a few pounds of chanterelles between us. No matsutake on this trip, but at least we didn’t get skunked.
We stalled. We dilly-dallied. We delayed. But at last we couldn’t procrastinate any longer. It was time to part ways. Jim and Loreto needed to head home and I … well, I needed to hit the road and head east. East, to wherever it is I am going.
I cried. I’ll admit it, I cried. I’m not only leaving some amazing foraging territory behind, I’m leaving my best friends and the only home I’ve known for the last 17 years.
But, between here and there—wherever there may be—there are mushrooms to be found and … well, and who knows what else. And so, the great adventure begins. Next stop for mushrooms: near the Washington-Idaho border.